Below is our list of the 10 most gothic dancehall songs. Enjoy, but avoid reading this after midnight, especially if you are easily frightened or live alone…
10) Devil Pickney, Sugar Minott
This 1983 Sly and Robbie digi roots classic finds dancehall pioneer Sugar Minott lamenting over the unexpected visit of a strange and mysterious woman to his home.
9) Lord Evil, Aidonia
In terms of styles, flows and metaphors, few rappers of any genre rival Aidonia. Here, he confirms his status as dancehall’s dark overlord utilising one of the hottest riddims of 2012, TNS.
8) Gorgon, Cornell Campbell
In 1975, Studio One legend Cornel Campbell branded himself ‘the Gorgan’ on Bunny Lee’s disco-style production of the same name and delivered one of the year’s biggest-selling singles – 15 years before Ninjaman hijacked the handle, and designer Gianni Versace incorporated the image of Greek gorgon Medusa into his fashion line.
7) 666, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers
Not really dancehall, but an appropriate cut from Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers’ third album, Hey World, warning listeners to beware of the Biblical anti-Christ and ensure they avoid using his PIN (666) when shopping for goods and services.
6) Send a Hell / Wha Dat Fah, Vybz Kartel
Two vulgar, amoral, but nonetheless entertaining songs recorded by Kartel in 2008 for Cordel Burrell’s Martial Arts / Self Defense riddim. One is a blasphemous diss-track targeting Mavado, and on the other Kartel confesses: ‘The way mi love killing; it a mad mi / From mi born mi know mi [would be] fuckin’ ungodly’.
5) Blood on His Lips, Scientist
One of several remixes of Wayne Jarrett’s Love In a Mi Heart, allegedly recorded on Friday 13 June 1981 by the Roots Radics band at Channel One and then mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s studio. A personal favourite from the classic dub LP Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires.
4) Psycho, Tommy Lee
Vybz Kartel’s young protégé is best described as dancehall answer to Marilyn Manson. Psycho is an extremely dark offering reminiscent of DMX’s early work and Snoop Dogg’s project Murder Was the Case. His music may be dark, sinister and blasphemous, but if he continues to capture the imaginations of underground music fans as he has done for the past 18 months, the future looks bright for Tommy Lee.
3) Permit to Bury, Ninjaman
Here the Don Gorgon reveals a fictitious plan to capture, kill and lay to rest the criminals who’ve been terrorising his local community. The result is a four-minute (undoubtedly cocaine-fuelled) soliloquy comprising several bizarre tales of murder, carnal abuse and robbery, which remains one of his most amusing and biggest-selling singles to date.
2) Chase Vampire, Sancho
Sancho’s only hit was recorded on Jammys’ Interface (aka Walk Like Granny) riddim, and is perfect for those eerie moments just after a horror movie has ended. In addition to frightening off Frankenstein, werewolves and voodoo workers, the song has been remixed by Fat Boy Slim and sampled for Lil Wayne’s double platinum-selling single, A Milli.
1) Disco Devil, Lee Perry
Perry produced Bob Marley’s early music and helped to introduce reggae to Europe and the US. Here, the legendary dubmaster drops a timeless rap over a remix of his own 1976 production of Max Romeo’s I Chase the Devil, later sampled by the Prodigy (Out of Space) and Jay Z (Lucifer).