In years past, when Dancehall fans asked who deserved deejay of the year honors, it virtually became a one man category given the dominance Vybz Kartel exerted annually. However, 2011 may have witnessed the most wide open race for the deejay of the year title, primarily due to the effect that personal issues had on the musical side of things.
One of the most intriguing years in Dancehall history, 2011 produced several reputable efforts from an established group of superstars as well as a newcomer who's drawn several comparisons to Vybz Kartel in recent months. Six artistes in particular showcased those efforts with regularity.
Boardhouse Records artiste, Assassin aka Agent Sasco produced his best run yet in 2011; asserting his presence within the Dancehall fraternity while finally achieving elite status. During the first third of 2011, Agent Sasco firmly announced his candidacy for deejay of the year with strong singles such as Talk How Mi Feel and Nothing At All. Never previously had Dancehall seen such a fierce side to Assassin's lyrical display as his range clearly expanded to levels demanded the notice of his peers within the industry.
At one point, he had fans wondering whether or not a clash between Sasco and long-time rival, Vybz Kartel was soon on the horizon, thanks to his single, Yuh Madda. This one-verse masterpiece seemingly was a direct counteraction at Kartel's single, Real Badman; offering a potential prelude to what could have been an intriguing STING clash. Run Di Place, Drink and Merry as well as Dem Bad In A Gang allowed Dancehall observers to look on Assassin with a new found sense of clarity as not only did the deejay make substantial growth within the industry, Sasco ascended to a class that gained him international appeal as several of these singles gathered regular airplay overseas. Awarding Assassin with such an honor isn't a stretch, it's quite possible given such an accomplished resume as well as notable performances across the Caribbean and other regions that showcased his stage presence; finally reaching the potential he displayed when bursting onto the Dancehall scene in 2003.
4. Beenie Man/Bounty Killer:
You can't mention one without the other when it comes to Dancehall legends, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer and 2011 once again re-emphasized said point. This year, Dancehall saw the revival of their long-standing feud as well as their individual careers.
Beenie Man dazzled fans with the release of his hit single, Go Go Club, which charted well on local and international Dancehall charts. Additionally, the self-professed “King of the Dancehall” proved his worthiness of the crown by strongly asserting himself on the internationally-acclaimed Overproof Riddim with the singles, Let's Go and John Crow. Many fans regard Let's Go as the Riddim's best song given its substantialized lyrical content.
Meanwhile, Bounty Killer bounced back from a somewhat disappointing and turbulent 2010 with his own reputable effort on the Overproof Riddim entitled, Galactic Gallis, calling out deejays who only sing about being with girls but don't practice what they preach. Additionally, Bounty Killer released No Cream To Mi Face, a sharp-shooting lyrical attack on former protégé, Vybz Kartel, as well as the Boardhouse Records produced single, Ready Fi Dem. Each of these efforts proved that Bounty Killer not only remains relevant within Dancehall circles, he's still a major force within the industry.
However, after a short truce, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer soon engaged in another lyrical feud; exchanging diss singles such as Shut Up and Cah Puff Mi Chest amongst others. Their battle led to open competition on several productions, leading Dancehall observers to wonder if the two will forever be intertwined. For that reason, they might cancel each other out with regards to the deejay of the year award.