Dancehall — Jamaican street music combining bare reggae beats with a vocalist ”toasting” in raplike chants — broke through in the U.S. last year, when Shabba Ranks scored a hit with ”Housecall” and won a Grammy. That mainstream acceptance opened the door for DJs (rappers) like Super Cat to take Americans back to dancehall’s funky, no-frills roots. This DJ, who comes from one of the roughest parts of Kingston, walks a thin line between preaching antiviolence (he dumps on world leaders who invest in the military on ”Them No Care”) and extolling his status as a ”Don Dada” (”don” as in Don Quixote, a title of respect). On Don Dada, in his half-chatting, half-chanting baritone, Super Cat fires out lyrics about world wars, ghetto life, drugs, and death over hypnotic island rhythms. Add cheesy Casio effects, programmed reggae beats, and echo-chamber dub rhythms to his tough-talking patois rhymes, and you’ve got raw, utterly catchy dancehall, the kind you hear pounding everywhere on the island. A-

Don Dada
  • Music