The Top 15 Dancehall Artists of All-Time
A genre of music that began within the dance halls of Jamaica during the 1970s, truly established itself during the 1980s as dancehall artists have driven the subgenre of reggae music into the streets, the clubs, the radios of listeners across the world.
While most of dancehall’s popularity is among the West Indian culture, but its popularity has reached beyond to places in the United Kingdom, the United States, Toronto, and even Central America’s Costa Rica, expanding as far as communities in Asia, Africa, and even Eastern European.
With the help of labels like VP Records and Island Records, the numerous Jamaican legends that made their way out of the streets of Jamaica into the world of pop culture, dancehall artists have created a genre and a movement of music that has landed in all corners of the world.
Top 15 Dancehall Artists
1. Shabba Ranks
While there are other Dancehall artists that have produced more popular songs and have a larger catalog of music, no Dancehall artist has had an impact on music and pop culture than the Jamaican legend Shabba Banks. With numerous songs, like “Ting-A-ling,” “Mr. Loverman,” “Bedroom Bully,” and “Caan Dun,” showcasing his range of versatility, including various sounds of Reggae, Dancehall, Hip-Hop, and even R&B tracks, Shabba Ranks was arguably the most talented Dancehall artists of all-time. The genres first true superstar, Shabba Ranks is credited for being the inspiration of various forms of urban Latin music, like Dembow and somewhat Reggaeton.
2. Sean Paul
Making minor appearances during the 1990s, the 2000s was without a doubt the era of Sean Paul. Hit after hit, “I’m Still in Love With You,” “Temperature,” “Get Busy,” and many more, led to Sean Paul to having a monopoly on Dancehall music within mainstream media. Dozens of award nominations, global recognition, and music that casted a shadow over artists of all genres, Sean Paul was the king of Dancehall music during the 2000s.
A slew of Reggae and Dancehall hits, dating back to the start of the 1980s, Eek-A-Mouse and his unique style moved beyond legendary status as he was one of the first leaders of Jamaica’s Dancehall movement.
The original, the pioneer, the leader, the man that spearheaded a genre that became known to the world as Dancehall music. Yellowman began his career during the 1970s, but the 1980s, following the release of “Zungguzungguguzungguzeng,” led him to stardom and the start of his legacy as one of the very first Dancehall artists.
5. Ini Kamoze
Reggae and Dancehall legend made a name for himself during the 1980s and 1990s, with his biggest hit to date being the reggae fusion track “Here Comes The Hotstepper,” a mixture between reggae music and hip-hop. While that was a classic, Ini Kamoze has an extensive catalog with popular songs like “Wings With Me,” “World A Music,” and the ultimate classic reggae and dancehall “World A Reggae (Out In The Street They Call It Murder)”.
6. Barrington Levy
Another O.G. of the lineup of Dancehall artists, Barrington Levy is a true Jamaican legend, with a career starting as far back as the 1970s. Outside of Reggae and Dancehall, Barrington Levy was known for featuring with Bad Boys Records artist Shyne on “Bonnie & Shyne” and “Bad Boyz,” but to everyone else he is known for classics “Here I Come,” “Murderer,” “Black Roses,” and much more. While the majority of his music, or at least his top songs, are Reggae, no one can doubt the presence that Barrington Levy had in the dancehalls and in the Dancehall music scene.
7. Buju Banton
Releasing one of the greatest reggae and dancehall albums of all-time, 1995’s ‘Til Shiloh, a classic that consisted with songs like “Wanna Be Loved,” “Champion,” “Untold Stories,” and “Murderer,” Buju Banton set himself up for greatness. While Til Shiloh was truly a classic, over the course of his career Buju Banton released other classic albums, 10 to be exact, six receiving Grammy nominations, and Before The Dawn being his only win.
8. Beenie Man
Kingston born and raised, Beenie Man’s journey in music begins during the 1980s, releasing his first project at the age of 10 years old. Fast forwarding to the early 1990s, Beenie Man made his official start into a career of reggae and dancehall. Years of consistency, Beenie Man eventually made his way outside of the listeners of Jamaica to becoming a international sensation and becoming the top icon in the dancehall and reggae realm during the 2000s.
Songs like “Boombastic,” “Angel,” and “It Wasn’t Me” catapulted Shaggy’s legacy into the world of pop culture. Shaggy debut on top, with the hit single “Oh Carolina” on his debut album Pure Pleasure, released during 1993. Close to 30 years in the game, Shaggy has still remained active in the Dancehall scene.
10. Vybz Kartel
Despite his incarceration, Vybz Kartel has remained the king of Dancehall music during the 2020s. A career dating back to the early 1990s, Vybz Kartel began working with Dancehall and Reggae legend Bounty Killer and was originally part of a group called Vybz Kartel, until members went separate ways and Vybz Kartel kept the groups name as a solo artist. The 1990s was just a stepping stone into a successful career entering the 2000s. On a major level, the 2000s was dominated by other artists, but Vybz Kartel began making his rounds throughout Dancehall music scene. With growth, after years of consistency, Vybz Kartel became one of the top Dancehall artists of the 2010s and 2020s.
The self-proclaimed Queen of Dancehall, Spice has been the number one female artist in Dancehall music since the 2010s. While there has been numerous female rising stars in Dancehall music of late, Spice has continued to hold onto the position of Queen of Dancehall music, possibly the greatest female artists of all-time.
One of the hardest working Reggae and Dancehall artists of all-time, Sizzla began during the early 1990s and has stayed consistent and persistent throughout his time in music, carrying his legacy well into the 2020s. Collaborating with top hip-hop artists, much respect among his peers and all fans of Reggae and Dancehall music, Sizzla is one of a kind, hailing from the streets of Jamaica.
13. Wayne Wonder
Slowly emerging during the late 1980s and continuing his rise during the 1990s, Wayne Wonder became one of music’s biggest stars from Jamaica during the 2000s. Throughout his career, Wayne Wonder would release songs like “No Letting Go,” “Saddest Day of My Life,” “Bonifide Love,” and many more classics.
Receiving his first musical break in the city of Toronto, in which has a large West Indian population, Capleton’s career has spanned over four decades, while currently still presently active in music. Throughout his career, the Reggae and Dancehall artist Capelton has become known for songs like “That Day Will Come,” “Who Dem,” and “Cooyah Cooyah.”
15. Bounty Killer
Making his debut during the early 1990s with the underground hit “Copper Shot,” Bounty Killer began his rise within the Dancehall scene during the 1990s. Known for his intense delivery among street related content, Bounty Killer quickly emerged as an icon in Jamaica and in Reggae and Dancehall music.
Honorable Mention Dancehall Artists
While from the 1980s to the 2000s had numerous dancehall stars, Gyptian was one of the top artists of the 2010s, especially with songs like “Hold You,” “Wine Slow,” “Beautiful Lady,” “Nah Let Go,” and many more. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Lady Shaw
Lady Shaw is one of the very first true female superstars of dancehall music. Debuting in 1994 with “Lover Girl,” Lady Shaw made a name for herself with 1997’s raw and uncut album Passion. During a time a heavy male representation in dancehall, Lady Shaw gave the ladies a voice and a perspective. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Elephant Man
The “Pon De River” superstar began his time in music during the 1990s, but grew in popularity during the 2000s, expanding his reached into hip-hop and America’s pop culture. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Macka Diamond
– Mr. Vegas
Sparking his career during the late 1990s, Mr. Vegas became known for hits like “Bruk It Down” and “Heads High.” Despite a brief hiatus, Mr. Vegas continued his career well into the 2010s. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Baby Cham
Songs like “Back Way,” “Ghetto Story” with Alicia Keys, and “Turn Up” had Baby Cham to become a rising star during the 2000s, as he featured with a few of the top hip-hop and R&B stars of the generation. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Tenor Shaw
– Frankie Paul
Known as the Stevie Wonder of Jamaica, Frankie Paul is one of the original dancehall artists of Jamaica, but his creative and artistic skills has led many fans to come accustomed to his diverse styles. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Mad Cobra
– Terror Fabolous
The artist that produced the hit song “Action,” made major moves during the 1990s with tracks like “Number 2,” “Position,” “Gangster’s Anthem,” and as mentioned one of the top dancehall singles of the 1990s, “Action.” YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Red Rat
Known for his classic album Oh No It’s Red Rat, Red Rat had an unique approach to the 2000s Dancehall music scene, which was showcased and displayed on songs like “Tight Up Skirt” and “Shelly Ann.” YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
Known for 1990s with hits like “Queen of the Pack,” “Romantic Call,” “Worker Man,” a genre dominated by men did not stop Patra from shining during her time as one of the most popular dancehall artists. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Spragga Benz
Widely known Spragga Benz for his work within the hip hop community, working with artists like Nas, Bow Bow, Foxy Brown, Wyclef Jean, and KRS-One, but Spragga Benz released the dancehall classic “She Nuh Ready Yet.” YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
Dancehall Related Topics
**No Order. Artists placement is a combination of a number of hits, longevity, impact, legacy, and current streams and views.**