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Trap dancehall isn’t going anywhere, say genre’s producers

Published:Monday | September 16, 2019 | 12:07 AMSade Gardner/Gleaner Writer
Linval ‘Shabba’ Thompson Jr (left) and Carlos Clarke of Shabdon Records.
Linval ‘Shabba’ Thompson Jr (left) and Carlos Clarke of Shabdon Records.

Simply put, Jamaica’s musical influences have always been borderless. The island’s première genre, mento, was rooted in elements of African and European music. Its transitional genre, Jamaica rhythm and blues, saw early Jamaican artistes adopting American rhythm and blues in the late 1950s, bearing songs like Oh Carolina by Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari and Muriel by Alton and Eddy. The relatively new trap dancehall phenomenon is the perfect example of this musical crystallisation, and whereas the era of Jamaican rhythm and blues did not last a decade, the lead producers of trap dancehall believe that the genre is here to stay.

“That ain’t going nowhere. Everybody is gravitating to it, and the young people nuh really want straight dancehall, dem waan dah trap dancehall, bouncy something deh,” Fabian ‘Wizzy’ Hilton from Hemton Music told The Gleaner.

“I think dem like the freshness of it. The young people like the style and uniqueness, so a lot of people work with it more than the original dancehall,” Mario ‘Din Din’ Hemmings, the other half of Hemton’s production duo, said.

Based in the United States, the label was formed in 2015, using Wizzy’s hip hop signature. The dancehall flavour was later added after they started working with 6ix frontman, Squash.


“It wasn’t a sound we had from the get-go, that happened after we started working with Squash and fused the hip hop beats with dancehall to see how it sounded,” Hemmings said.

Their first release with Squash, Lavish, was followed by others such as Rygin King’s Learn and Paranoid.

Referring to Hemton Music as his musical partner, Shab Don Records’ primary producer, Linval ‘Shabba’ Thompson Jr, said that he also started out working with Squash.

“A me and Hemton a tek dancehall wid the trap sound. It’s the future of dancehall a pure trap the younger artistes dem sing bout,” he said. “A nuh watered-down dancehall. It a di only ting a play right now, everywhere you go a di 6ix – Daddy 1, Squash, Chronic Law – and Teejay and Kartel a run the place wid di trap sound,” he said.

Interestingly, Shabba is the son of veteran reggae producer Linval Thompson. Though the trap dancehall sound is working now, he has intentions of producing other genres, which will appear on his debut album slated for release next year.

“Mi a work fi see Shab Don go Billboard, right now me want to work with Protoje, Chronixx and produce culture and roots same way,” he said.

Hemton Music also intends to diversify its catalogue.

“A lot of people don’t know what we are coming with next, maybe you will hear a roots reggae, even a hardcore dancehall beat, we nuh try fi keep it on one sound, but because trap dancehall is working now, it a go be the popular sound, but we nuh waan box ourselves in one genre. Everything we drop should always be fresh,” Hemmings said.