The origin and culture of Dancehall

Dancehall is a polular  type of  music originated in the late 70s in Jamaica, as a result of varying political and socio-economic factors. It is also known as bashment.

Dancehall is characterized by a deejay singing and toasting (or rapping) over danceable music riddims. The rhythm in dancehall is much faster than in traditional reggae, sometimes with drum machines replacing acoustic sets. In the early years of dancehall, some found its lyrics crude or “slack”, because of its sexual tones. Like its reggae predecessor, dancehall eventually made inroads onto the world music scene.

Dub poet Mutabaruka maintained, “if 1970s reggae was red, green and gold, then in the next decade it was gold chains”. As was indicated in the article on murder music, there is furious debate among purists as to whether it should be considered some sort of extension of reggae music.


Dancehall is the mother of hip hop and owes its name to the spaces in which popular Jamaican recordings were aired by local sound systems and readily consumed by its “set-to-party” patronage; commonly referred to as “dance halls”. Dancehall, the musical genre, is long considered to be the creation of Henry “Junjo” Lawes in 1979. The production of dancehall music was further refined by King Jammy in the early 80s, during the transition from dub to dancehall, and original attempts to digitize “hooks” to “toast” over by Jamaican deejays.

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2 thoughts on “The origin and culture of Dancehall

  1. Yes. Dj Kool Herc (who spent his childhood years in Jamaica) started toasting over the disco and funk beats and breaks in the Bronx- from this came ‘break’dancing and rapping with graffiti as the visual art accompanying it. Thanks for this bit of info!!!!

    Dancehall, reggae, rap writers read more here


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