A lot of hype was made over Snoop Dogg's transition to Snoop Lion last year, but he's not the only one who has wanted to make songs under the Caribbean sun. Many have taken their deep Jamaican roots and infused them into the lifeline of the culture. With the Long Beach, California, native preparing to explain his transformation in his upcoming Reincarnated album and documentary, this slideshow aims to list 10 Rap Stars Who Have Gone Reggae. Grab your Red Stripe, turn up the volume on your speakers, and light up some irie vibes and enjoy this slideshow.
—Kevin L. Clark (@DLYDJ)
—Kevin L. Clark (@DLYDJ)
Artist: Lil' Kim
Brooklyn rapper Lil' Kim aimed to follow up the hype delivered by 2003's La Bella Mafia with her fourth studio album The Naked Truth. Stripping away her notoriously raunchy rap style in favor of something more soul bearing, the Hard Core rapper launched "Put Your Lighters Up" as her first single.
Produced by her then-boyfriend, Scott Storch, the song was a departure from the hard-hitting thump and Hip-Hop pop that the New York native was known for. Boasting a similar tone to Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock," the song did a wonderful job in hyping up the album. The single quickly became her highest charting solo hit making it to the #31 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a repeatable hit at bashment parties across the country.
Hear Lil' Kim's "Lighters Up" for yourself below:
The Hip-Hop duo consisting of members Tek and Steele are a major component of the Brooklyn-based Boot Camp Clik supergroup, and legends within the culture. Known inside and outside Kings County for their gritty raps and dark, dusty beats, Swif-n-Wessun were underground kingpins throughout the mid-1990s.
After a cease and desist order from the Smith & Wesson firearms company, the group had to rename themselves Cocoa Brovaz. But it was their classic cut, "Sound Bwoy Bureill" from their debut album, Dah Shinin' that endured them to rap fans around the globe. Sampling "Dust Out a Sound Bwoy" by Super Beagle (which was also used for Kanye West's "Mercy"), "Sound Boy Bureill" is so good that the intro usually murders the bash, before the actual tune started.
You can enjoy the Cocoa B'z brand of Jamaican Patois in the video below:
Artist: Boogie Down Productions —
KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock consisted of the lyrically beastly Hip-Hop group known as Boogie Down Productions. The group delivered classic songs, yet one of their biggest contributions to Hip-Hop was their pioneering fusion of dancehall reggae and rap music through their debut LP, Criminal Minded.
KRS-One and Criminal Minded play an integral role in reaffirming the social acceptance of being Jamaican, and its influence was well illustrated by the use of the "Mad Mad" or "Diseases" riddim that begun with reggae star Yellowman ("Zunguzug"). The song "9mm Goes Bang" is a perfect example of this usage, and was one of the first Hip-Hop songs to be based around a first-person crime narrative.
Listen to the Teacha tell his story in this YouTube clip below:
Artist: Heavy D —
The late Heavy D was everything that you would want in an entertainer. Charismatic, enduring, a talented songwriter, and a pretty smooth dancer to boot, the Mount Vernon, NY rapper was a treasure on M-I-C and in the Hip-Hop culture. Together with rap cohorts G-Whiz, "Trouble" T. Roy, and Eddie F, Heavy D and The Boyz maintained a sizable fan base throughout the jiggy-era of the 1990s.
In 2008, the Mandeville, Jamaica-born rapper decided to expose the world to his irie side with the Reggae album Vibes that came out on December of that year. Featuring no raps from the Overweight Lover MC, Hev managed to maintain him image of being the heavyset man who constantly charms the ladies with clever wordplay. His song, "Long Distance Girlfriend," was a standout cut from the album giving Hip-Hop that old thang back that is sorely missed these days.
Enjoy the late MC's brand of riddim by pressing play on the YouTube video below:
Artist: MC Mighty Casey —
Hip-Hop artist, teacher and filmmaker, MC Mighty Casey is not shy about championing his Jamaican roots. The Bostonian lyricist transplanted to Brooklyn where he became an in-demand writer for the likes of Jack & Jill Politics, The Urban Daily, News One, and The Huffington Post. Never one to shy away from the riddim within him, The Mighty One decided to return back to the music utilizing the sounds of the islands.
The ingenious creator and filmmaker has made songs that are in the vein of KRS-One with the aim to teach. But his most recent ditty, "Keep The Faith," has a simpler goal in mind—keep us smiling. With more positive prose on the way, MC Mighty Casey has some really good things coming up, and we should all keep an eye out for the big man with the good vibrations.
The harder they come, the more they enjoy this video... Just like you can below:
Artist: Foxy Brown —
Brooklyn's own Foxy Brown decided to change her image to reflect the Kings County neighborhood she's from. In 2001, she released her third album, Broken Silence showcasing a more "street" image, and gave tribute to hometown heroes such as The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z.
The first single, "Oh Yeah," featured her then-boyfriend, Jamaican dancehall king Spragga Benz. Sampling the Jamaican reggae and ska band Toots & The Maytals' "54-46 That's My Number," the Ill Na Na flowed like water on the track. In the end, her song is widely credited as the first song to kick off the Hip-Hop/Dancehall movement in the early 2000's.
You can listen to Foxy Brown's signature classic in the video below:
Artist: The D.O.C. —
One of the creative force behind the gangsta rap group N.W.A. was the pen behind many of their stellar releases. His debut album, No One Can Do It Better, was smash hit, placing number-one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart for two weeks and spawned two number one hits on the Hot Rap Songs chart.
One of those songs was the masterful, "The D.O.C. & The Doctor," and the other was the catchy "It's Funky Enough". Produced by Dr. Dre and starring Eazy-E in the song's music video, the Dallas, Texas native spoke on how he came up with the Hip-Hop/Reggae fused track. "When the bet came on, it just sounded Jamaican. So that's the character that came out," The D.O.C. told HipHopDX back in February 2011.
An accident crushed the rapper's larynx, permanently changing his hit-making voice, but you can check out his funky-funky style in the video below:
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G. —
The true King of New York, Christopher Wallace had the game on smash with his debut album, Ready To Die. Released through Bad Boy Records during the hardcore gritty era of Hip-Hop, the Black Frank White captured the imagination of suburban America who were intrigued by the Bedford-Stuyvesant lyricist's stories. He became a central figure in the East Coast Hip-Hop scene and increased New York's visibility when the genre had expanded to other regions.
A standout cut from the album was "Respect," which featured Reggae-fusion singer Diana King on the hook. The track which finds Biggie running down his life story, including a whole 16 about his birth, "Respect" was a Hip-Hop/Reggae fused cut that showcase the Jamaican side of Bed-Stuy's bad boy.
Check out the cut for yourself below:
Artist: Lauryn Hill —
New Jersey's own Lauryn Hill was a Hip-Hop treasure as a part of the group, The Fugees. When she broke out to do her own as a solo act, her album became the stuff of legend. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the first Hip-Hop oriented album to ever receive 10 Grammy nominations. Taking home five golden gramophones marked her as the first woman to win that manny Grammys in one night.
Hill's love of music, and namely Bob Marley, is apparent throughout the album. Littered with Rastafarian overtones, the cut "Forgive Them Father" directly sampled "Concrete Jungle" by the man known as Tuff Gong. Written and produced by the former Fugee crooner, the song meshed classic Hip-Hop bass-lines and snares with Caribbean flare.
You can listen to this redemptive track for yourself below:
Artist: Snoop Lion —
If there is one thing that Long Beach, California native, Snoop Dogg knows how to do, it's make music that is timeless and bangs. Last February, the Doggfather announced a new documentary that was going to be tied into upcoming studio album entitled Reincarnated. The hype grew louder when he introduced a new stage name and mindset that is refreshing for those tired of incessant violence in Hip-Hop/Rap music. Telling reporters that he was rechristened as "Snoop Lion" by a Rastafarian priest in Jamaica, the film and the movie chronicled the High Times rappers transition to Reggae artist.
His first Reggae single, "La La La," wasn't exactly as smash hit at bashment parties around the globe. But his second single, "Here Comes the King," produced by Major Lazer and featuring Snoop as his most irie is a testament to his ingenuity as an artist. Armed with a reinvigorated sound, a stance against his old ways within the Hip-Hop culture, and a clearly defined persona, Snoop Lion proves that an old dog can surely learn a new trick or two.
You can watch the video for yourself below: