December 22, 2023
With the success of the blockbuster summer beat Big Bunx, industry insiders have welcomed the return of ‘juggling’ rhythms.
Juggling rhythms have been a part of dancehall and reggae music for decades and have given rise to several acts and hit songs.
The Big Bunx rhythm, a joint production between Zimi Records and Now or Never, took off like a rocket spawning hits such as RajahWild’s Wild Out, Najeeriii’s Paddle Boat, Roze Don’s Bakshat, Rum Behaviour by Kraff, and Mad Out by Valiant.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Franc White of Zimi Records said he didn’t expect Big Bunx rhythm to have taken off the way it did.
“I had no idea the rhythm would’ve been so successful. It was just sitting there among a batch of rhythms and I-waata [dancehall artiste] point it out to me and say is a bad rhythm. We were in the studio reasoning, and I played some rhythms for him to hear and him pick it out and say, ‘Da one deh bad,’ ” White recalled.
DJ Stretch and his brother DJ Brad comprise the South Florida-based Extatic Sound. Both are originally from St Ann.
“Jugglin’ is a Jamaican art form where different artists record songs on the same rhythms. I think the return of jugglin’ will help dancehall in a lot of ways, including helping to sharpen the skills of the artists. Each artist has to make sure he tries to make a better song than the other artists. Jugglin’ also helps dancehall because a more popular artist can do a song on the same rhythm with a younger artist and help to give that young artist a highlight, because wherever that rhythm is being played that young artist will get that highlight. It also makes it easier for the DJs jugglin’ to flow in a party and keep the tempo of the party on a high level with more options,” said DJ Stretch.
In recent weeks, a few old dancehall rhythms have been revived, thanks to producers including Tarik “Rvssian” Johnston, Ainsley “Not Nice” Morris, and Michael “ZJ Liquid” Brissett.
Rvssian has brought back the 2009 Go Go Club rhythm and renamed it Dutty Money rhythm. Among the hits from the revived beat are Najeeriii’s Phat Phat and RajahWild’s Go Go.
Not Nice‘s 2010 joint collaboration Street Vybz rhythm with Adidjahiem Records is back with new acts, among them Chronic Law, Najeeriii, and dancer-turned-deejay Kaka High Flames.
ZJ Liquid’s 2006 production 12 Gauge rhythm has been revived, but the list of acts featured is yet to be revealed.
DJ Stretch believes the reviving of the old beats will do a lot for emerging acts.
“I believe that revamping old rhythms is what dancehall producers should’ve been doing a long time ago. Hip hop producers have been sampling old songs and rhythms for decades, and also even sampling our dancehall songs and rhythms. Reggae and dancehall need to do that more because these younger artists are able to show their expertise by recording new-style songs on old, familiar beats that can capture both an older audience and a younger audience and it helps to bring both generations together,” said DJ Stretch.
The Edge FM‘s DJ Richrocc also weighed in on the discussion.
“I am happy jugglin’ is back in dancehall. It is the best thing in this phase of our music. Does it help young talents to get known? Yes. Because if you have a popular name/big name on a juggling with a young talent it helps to popularise that young talent’s name and sound while feeding dancehall fans what they’re used to and love,” said DJ Richrocc.
He added: “Music has over the years been sampled and beats are always getting knock over. So I personally think it’s okay for a producer to bring back his beat. It also helps you to remember some big songs that were in heavy rotation. Some will say it lacks creativity, but everything in music was done before, so nothing is really new. We just need to find a way to make lovers of our music enjoy it while Brand Jamaica continues to grow.”
In-demand central Jamaica-based disc jock, DJ Brain, says the return of the old rhythms signals the appreciation that emerging acts have for the music.
“To begin with, the return of the Go Go Club and Street Vybz rhythms shows us that the younger generation really appreciate music and are also very versatile. So it’s now for the newer producers to adapt certain qualities from the older rhythms and make a couple juggling for the new generation. This actually reminds us that music cannot die. We’ve had big rhythms, such as the famous Pepper Seed, Bam Bam, Showtime rhythms, where various artistes struck it big with banger songs. Jugglings give the artistes even more drive to go for a hit song on the rhythm. DJs and patrons also are satisfied because this has been lacking in the industry,” said DJ Brain.
“I think the return of juggling was more than needed. It’s like you’re going back to a time when dancehall was nice and you could enjoy a rhythm with all the songs being good songs and you would sing them word for word. That’s a nostalgic feeling. I like the revamped versions of the old rhythms. It’s a platform to give the new artist a chance to showcase their talent on some rhythms that they grew up listening to,” said Fyah 105 FM‘s DJ Mario.
SJ Ali Patch, who plays at several events and parties as well as on SunCity 104.9 FM, is also happy for the return of the juggling rhythms.
“This is great for the genre and the artistes. Trap dancehall is developing a new crowd, mostly young people listen to it. It’s new and it’s nothing compared to the audience that loves dancehall music. Getting the younger acts on the older beats will introduce them to new audiences. It will definitely help their career a lot,” said SJ Ali Patch.
He continued: “I find it shocking that it took the producers so long to revamp their rhythms. That’s the identity of dancehall music.”
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