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 places like the Caribbean, United Kingdom, New York City, Toronto, and even places of Central America like Costa Rica, and has expanded into places of 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
– Gyptian While the eras of 1980s, 1990s, and the 2000s had their stars, Gyptian was one of the top Dancehall artists of the 2010s with songs like Hold You, Wine Slow, Beautiful Lady, Nah Let Go, and many more. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Lady Shaw Lady Shaw is possibly the first true female superstar of Dancehall. Debuting in 1994 with “Lover Girl,” she truly made a name for herself with 1997’s raw and uncut Passion. Lady Shaw represented for the ladies during the time when there was only male representation in Dancehall. 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, popularity that reached into hip-hop and America’s pop culture. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Macka Diamond Macka Diamond or Lady Charm, the lady icon among the Dancehall scene began during the 2000s, becoming known for songs like “Dye Dye,” “Hoola Hoop,” and “Bun Him.” YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– 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 into the 2010s. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– Baby Cham Songs like “Back Way,” “Ghetto Story” with Alicia Keys, and “Turn Up,” had Baby Cham become a rising star during the 2000s, featuring with a few of top hip-hop and R&B stars of his generation. YouTube | Apple Music | Spotify
– 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
– Terror Fabolous The artist that produced the smash hit “Action,” made major moves during the 1990s with songs like “Number 2,” “Position,” “Gangster’s Anthem,” and as mentioned one of the top Dancehall singles of the 1990s, “Action.”
– 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, with songs like “Tight Up Skirt” and “Shelly Ann.”
– Patra. Known for 1990s with hits like “Queen of the Pack,” “Romantic Call,” “Worker Man,” a genre dominated by man did not stop Patra from shinning.
– Spragga Benz. Many may known Spragga Benz for his work in hip hop, working with artists like Nas, Bow Bow, Foxy Brown, Wyclef Jean, KRS-One, all while releasing the classic “She Nuh Ready Yet.”
Dancehall Related Topics
**No Order. Artists placement is a combination of a number of hits, longevity, impact, legacy, and current streams and views.**