Mavado. Carlington Wilmot
The world of dancehall appeared beset by tragedy and controversy this year, with its highest-profile singer, Vybz Kartel, arrested and charged with two murders. But the music didn't stop. Dancehall songs tell stories about street life, often using harsh language to describe the action. But it's also music for a party — the studio-produced beats mean to make you move — and its singers often have flamboyant personalities, at least on record.
The five best dancehall songs of the year were made by very different musicians. This year Mavado, with his singular voice, came into his own, releasing well-crafted hit after well-crafted hit. Young star Laza Morgan and veteran I-Octane side-stepped into the spotlight. Kartel's scandal didn't keep his catchy anthems away from people's ears, and Popcaan did not linger in his mentor's shadow.