Opinion

Dancehall’s 20 Most Influential Deejays

I think most would find it hard to argue that the overwhelming majority of names on the list belong there.

Now all these lists are opinion driven.  But when writing this list the names poured on to the page.  Influential was the operative word in my decision making.  There were so many artists I love, old and new, that did not make my list mainly because I wanted to focus on the artists that impact the culture, show staying power and or have cross over hits.

Top 20 Deejay Compilation

The Dancehall scene is alive and well despite music sales declining industry wide.  The artists listed above have assisted, and many still are assisting, in the ever growing popularity of Reggae music as a genre.   The newer artists may generate more debate and there are more foundation artists that may very well have influenced the artists on the list.  But I think most would find it hard to argue that the overwhelming majority of names on the list did not belong there.  Please keep in mind this is not a rating order of the 20 although it is in a basic chronological order.

  1. U-Roy
  2. Yellowman
  3. Sister Nancy
  4. Super Cat
  5. Ninjaman
  6. Shabba Ranks
  7. Capelton
  8. Madd Cobra
  9. Buju Banton
  10. Shaggy
  11. Beenieman
  12. Bounty Killer
  13. Lady Saw
  14. Damian Marley
  15. Sizzla
  16. Sean Paul
  17. Vybz Kartel
  18. Popcaan
  19. Alkaline
  20. Spice

There are so many more but with only 20 spots to fill I choose U-Roy, Yellow man and Sister Nancy as the most impactful from the 70’s into early 80’s.  U-Roy is the Father, Yellow man was the first Deejay superstar and Sister Nancy was the first female Deejay to have a major impact, which is still evident today with Jay -Z and Damian Marley’s reinterpretation of her hit “Bam Bam”.   Super Cat, Ninjaman and Shabba Ranks had a strangle hold on the late 80’s into early 90’s.  Super Cat and Shabba’s cross over was huge.  Ninja man is the father of the Deejay clashes  Capelton, Cobra, Buju, Shaggy, Beenie, Bounty and Lady Saw kept the fire burning through the 90’s.  Sizzla, Sean Paul and Vybz Kartel pushed the bar farther.  Now young artists like Popcaan, Alkaline and Spice have quickly made an influential mark.

I have to make special mention of some of my favorite artists I struggled with not putting on the list.  Big Youth, Tiger, Shelly Thunder, Papa San, Lt. Stitchie, Admiral Bailey, Professor Nuts, Spragga Benz, Busy Signal, Konshens and Agent Sasco.   Each brought their own unique elements.

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