Murda She Wrote: August 2020

Hot tracks by Jada Kingdom, Kabaka Pyramid, Popcaan and Skip Marley for your summer finale.


Image: Jada Kingdom. Credit: Courtesy of Mad Decent.

Even in the topsy-turvy reality of 2020, the end of August is peak season for reggae and dancehall. During any other year, London would be preparing to shut down the West End of the city for the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street fair. Meanwhile in Brooklyn, preparations would be underway for the West Indian Day Parade on Labor Day. This year’s festivities in London will be reduced to a virtual rave shown on the digital screens of Piccadilly Circus, and Brooklyn’s carnival is canceled altogether. But even if the big events have been paused by Covid-19, nothing can stop the music. Wherever you plan to celebrate the last lap of summer, we’ve got your soundtrack right here.

Jada Kingdom

Jada Kingdom is a gifted singer-songwriter who goes by many names. Some call her Twinkle. Some call her Muma Heavy. Some call her the Banana Boss. With the release of her new single, “Budum,” on Diplo’s Mad Decent label, the world is about to call her a star. “It’s been such a crazy year with the pandemic,” Jada said in a statement from Mad Decent. Twenty-twenty has also been a crazy year for Jada, who was featured on Vybz Kartel’s To Tanesha album and on Popcaan’s FIXTAPE, and who recently dropped her own mixtape, E-Syde Queen: The Twinkle Playlist.

“I just wanted to release a song that is fun and will make people happy and want to dance again,” she said. Linking with dancehall producer Emudio, a.k.a. The German, Jada cooked up a lighthearted celebration of her feminine curves. “Hopefully ‘Budum’ will have everyone whining their waists and rocking their bodies again and help us to forget some of the craziness going on around us.” Dancehall has no shortage of songs paying tribute to the female form, but the energy on this track is all about empowerment. The #BudumChallenge on TikTok has ladies of every body type showing off their shape. “The one who don’t have big bumper just roll up them big belly,” Jada told me, “and I say alright, nice, confident.” And it’s not just her female fans who are feeling the track, as she pointed out: “The man dem rock to it one and three time still.”

Kabaka Pyramid
“Nice Up the Dance”

Ace lyricist Kabaka Pyramid wasn’t even born yet when Michigan & Smiley released their 1979 classic “Nice Up the Dance” on Jamaica’s legendary Studio One label. Forty-one years later, the acclaimed dancehall producer Jeremy Harding decided to resurrect the vintage selection as part of a throw-forward project to connect next-generation artists and their fans with the foundational building blocks of Jamaican music and culture. “It’s such an amazing song,” Kabaka told me recently. “We wanted to give it a fresh vibe, a fresh approach.” Balancing respect for the original song with his own verbal wizardry, Kabaka chops Harding’s remake of the immortal “Real Rock” riddim like, as he puts it, “a sword from Japan.”

Popcaan ft. Masicka & Tommy Lee

Popcaan’s FIXTAPE has had the streets on fire since it dropped earlier this month — whether you prefer the 90-minute SoundCloud version or the official version on major streaming services. Packed with high-profile collaborations like “TWIST & TURN” featuring Drake and PartyNextDoor and “MURDA” featuring Preme and French Montana, the OVO-stamped project also finds the Unruly Boss collaborating with dancehall stars on cuts like “FRESH POLO” featuring Stylo G and Dane Ray. Perhaps the most talked about of Popcaan’s recent collaborations is “UNDA DIRT,” on which he trades bars with the Sparta Boss, Tommy Lee, and Masicka, the Genahsyde Boss, two of the most respected hardcore dancehall stars in Jamaica. The world of dancehall is so full of rivalries that any time three bosses come together it’s a big deal — and a sign of hope that music still has the power to unite people.

Skip Marley ft. Rick Ross & Ari Lennox  
“Make Me Feel”

As Bob Marley’s grandson and Marcia Griffiths’ grandnephew, Skip Marley grew up surrounded by musical greatness. His mother is Cedella Marley, firstborn child of the King of Reggae, who was known to many of his friends as “Skip.”

His first EP, Higher Place, includes a selection of songs spanning a range of styles, from classic reggae to dancehall to the smoothed-out R&B of Skip’s No. 1 smash “Slow Down” featuring H.E.R. One of the newer cuts on the project is “Make Me Feel,” a sultry meeting between Skip and Dreamville singer Ari Lennox topped off with a Ricky Rozay verse. “Even though it’s rough out there,” Skip sings, “no one knows, seems no one cares/You give me hope when none is found.” It’s a song for young people who understand that life is short. When time’s running out, you might as well enjoy every moment. “That’s the power of music,” Skip told me. “You can reach all walks of life. You can reach a man who don’t even speak the same language and he can feel it.”


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Murda She Wrote: July 2020 

Murda She Wrote: July 2020 

Summer heats up with new music by Koffee, Chronixx, Tessellated & Crayon and Aluna, Princess Nokia & Jada Kingdom.

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