Right now, Rihanna is reportedly working with dancehall artists on her new album via Brooklyn label Mixpak, though that’s no surprise—in addition to “Pon de Replay,” she began her career with longtime New York dancehall DJ Max Glazer and has been known to frequent his parties since. (Plus, just yesterday she was photographed wearing covetable jeans with the words “Duppy Conqueror” painted on them.) “Pon de Replay” was no fluke, and since her very beginnings her music’s been peppered with dancehall tracks or gestures to the genre—“Man Down,” “Rude Boy,” “What’s My Name,” “If It’s Lovin That You Want,” etc.
While I am excited to potentially hear Rihzus putting it down grimy, yardie style—where’s that long-promised Mavado collabo, hmm?—it’s also nice to hear something that evokes that super-sweet dancehall-pop innocence of her earliest days. That’s why I’m feeling Samantha J, an Ocho Rios 18-year-old whose new song with Dej Loaf, “League of My Own,” is rife with young-lady agency on a pop-lite riddim with lyrics about ditching wack dudes in favor of kicking it with her homegirls (homegyals?). It’s probably not going to destroy Carnival without a killer bashment remix, but as we amble into summer, its rhythmic fortitude and squeaky tweeters make me wanna figuratively roll down the windows of the whip, plus Dej Loaf sounds great on her verse. (Actually, could we get an entire Dej Loaf riddim tape? The nimble, slightly melancholy wateriness in her voice is uncannily suited for dancehall.)
Samantha J first dropped two years ago at 16 with “Tight Skirt,” super-cute schoolgirl video with weighty bass that referenced Kevin Lyttle’s “Turn Me On” and sampled Red Rat’s “Tight Up Skirt,” a surefire way to nail a melody in your headspace. She was meant to drop an album then; looks like she’s gearing up for more now.
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