Every week resident FADER selector Eddie STATS runs through dancehall riddims and other artifacts from the ghetto archipelago. This week, FADER O.G. And guest columnist Max Glazer of the internationally known Federation soundsystem runs through the “Dem Gal Sittin” riddim plus some other current 45s from female DJs
Since the weather is finally starting to break and Summer is right around the corner, I figured it would be appropriate to spend a little time with some of the lovely ladies of dancehall. While at least a third of all dancehall music is dedicated to the hot gal dem (the other two-thirds being devoted primarily to guns and ganja) there have traditionally been only a handful of female DJs. 2008 looks to be a promising year for female talent with a new crop of ladies representing for their sistren and even going toe to toe with the fellas. On to the music!
I decided to stick with Stats’ formula of one long-ass blend, which kicks off with a great concept that was, in fact, the inspiration for my “Ladies First” column. First up is Ward 21‘s “Dem Gal Sitt’n” riddim which features ONLY female artists. It was either a brilliant equal opportunity statement by Ward or they were just sick of spending endless hours in cramped studios with dudes. Either way, YES! The riddim has a little throwback feel to it, reminiscent of Dave Kelly’s Madhouse sound, which I say only as a frame of reference because Ward 21 keeps it original, as always. Bubbling along in the mid-slow tempo range, the gal dem deliver. First up is newcomer Timberlee, who locked the place last year with her dancehall anthem “Bubble Like Soup” (also produced by Ward—are you seeing a pattern here?) Her “No Stress” sets the pace for the girl power vibes on the riddim. While the slang in Tifa’s “Crawny Gal” is decidedly Jamaican, the universality of the queen bitch telling the other bitches to get out the way is—well—universally universal. The next new gal on the scene is Natalie Storm outta the Passa Passa crew. If you don’t know about Passa Passa, please proceed immediately to Youtube and get used to “Da One Deh”. Storm’s Myspace page describes her music as “Reggae/Electro/Club”, which makes me love her even more. “Anuh My Fault” picks up the banner that Lady Saw has been waving damn near solo for well over 10 years… It’s basically about how it’s not her fault if she can fuck your man better than you can, and how in fact, you should thank her for teaching him a few new tricks “like a dog.” What I love about the concept behind the riddim is how Ward didn’t only reach for female artists but went out of their way to bust new talent. Stacious is next up in line to to express how SHE is hot gal number one. In relative terms, Ms. Thing is a veteran in this line up, having already achieved a #1 hit with Beenie Man on “Dude” after which she took a couple of years maternity leave, but my girl is back and as fiesty as ever. Bounty/Beenie ex D’Angel rounds out the riddim nicely with a dedication “to all the girls who know say dem zum zum nah do no harm.”
So far the subject matter hasn’t been extremely varied, but the ladies can definitely use some anthems of the gal dem, by the gal dem and for the gal dem (to paraphrase Abe Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address). Up and coming producer Sean Nizzle’s “Creepa” riddim features a full complement of artists both male and female, but the column is all about my ladies, so everyone else is gonna have to wait their turn. (I will however point out that Esco & Fresh Money’s “Dun Dem Credit” is genius. More on Esco later in this paragraph). Natalie Storm is back in fine form on the “Creepa” and awesomely references her first song in this column in the intro to her second, “Body Good”. How’s that for a segueway? Tifa and Ms. Thing also do their best to keep the females on the riddim in the spotlight. I hate to say this again, but “Creepa” also has a Madhouse-ish feel to it. It’s on the mid-tempo side with a definite old school feel and plenty of vibes. The rest of the mix is made up of single tunes, no more riddim runs this week. “Heavy Hitters” is a straight hip-hop track that features Tifa, Ward 21 and a Bronx rapper by the name of Badnooz Boogz. Produced by Ward 21, it’s a banger and should without question be the anthem for DJ Enuff’s Heavy Hitters crew. This is what a reggae/hip-hop tune should sound like. Back to pure gal power is the wickedly hilarious “Stalkers”, produced by Esco. Three of the ladies I’ve mentioned join forces to expound on the virtues of “loving” so sweet it can turn even Tifa, Timberlee and Natalie Storm into, you guessed it… stalkers. The tune is a pure dancehall grinder, and with lyrics like Anytime mi want it, mi ago show up a your yard, cuff it like a criminal… can anyone say “restraining order”? It deserves more, but for some reason it’s under two minutes long. Maybe another verse is forthcoming? Lastly we yet again find Tifa and Ward 21 in musical partnership. “Spread Out” is technically a Ward song featuring Tifa, but she starts it. If disco dancehall were a genre, this would be the anthem. A roaring club banger filled with horns and guitar, Ward dazzles with their usual lyricism, but Tifa steals the show with the first line of the song, “I know you wanna fuck me boy…” Summer is just around the corner, and yet again, dancehall rules but more importantly, the ladies rule.
Ladies First Mix By Max Glazer
To hear stuff like this and other crazy dancehall madness please join me for the FEDERATION INVASION PODCAST. -Max Glazer (Federation Sound)