Dancehall did well in 2020 - Entertainment insiders give their picks for best performers

December 31, 2020
Shaneil Muir
Shaneil Muir
Skillibeng
Skillibeng
Buju Banton
Buju Banton
Shenseea
Shenseea
Vybz Kartel
Vybz Kartel
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In a year marred by lockdowns, curfews and travel restrictions caused by COVID-19, THE STAR asked a few industry insiders to give their take on 2020.

Public relations guru and artiste manager Cara Vickers opined that artistes had "made leaps and bounds this year in spite of everything that has transpired".

"Many artistes were forced to go more online than they were accustomed to and I feel like the attempt is noteworthy. The international world went virtual and Jamaica followed suit," she said. "Streaming numbers are at some of the highest we have seen and it's not just because people were home a lot more, it's also because our entertainers made every attempt to keep in touch with their fan base. We had one of the biggest clashes the Internet saw this year with the Verzuz battle, you had some artistes who signed endorsement deals, record deals, so things happened and are still happening. "

Vickers listed Shenseea as her pick for female artiste of the year, saying the Trending Gyal singer still found ways to keep her name on everyone's lips.

"I think Shenseea was able to show substance this year on a personal and professional level. She sustained challenges this year and she pulled through and became a kind of role model for children in Jamaica. She cried with her fans this year, she laughed, she celebrated, and she did what many didn't think she could do and that is, she lasted, and is lasting. She's proven that she's a force, had huge endorsements and an international sounding collab. She definitely did her thing," she said.

Vickers found it harder to name her pick for best male dancehall artiste, but settled on two. "Kartel remains at the top of his game, consistent. He has an over saturation of releases but it works for him. He stayed relevant even from a distance. Buju Banton came home and has remained consistent, relevant and a lot more digestible to the younger market which I think was very strategic," she said. Vickers also selected Shaneil Muir, Skillibeng and Chronic Law for female and male breakthrough artistes of the year.

Popular selector and party promoter Hotta Rice also listed Muir and Skillibeng as his breakthrough artistes.

"Yuh affi hand it to Shaneil Muir, she get her breakout and she did it from overseas wid a song ( Yamabella) weh become an anthem in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. She get a big sign when she link wid Good Good productions and she a gwaan good," he said. "Skilli now get the big deal wid Sony Records and a long time a dancehall artiste nuh get da big sign deh, him a work. Intence gwaan good too innu but Skilli dweet." Hotta Rice picked Spice and Shenseea for female artiste of the year, while Teejay and Vybz Kartel got his nod for best male artiste.

Quoting statistics from YouTube's end-of-year numbers, music analyst Donovan Watkis gave male breakthrough artiste to Skillibeng and Intence, who were neck and neck with the most streams. Both amassed 41.1 million streams but Skillibeng was given the edge, coming in at number four with Intence a place below.

Pointing out that Shenseea was the only female artiste to make the most streamed list, coming in at number seven, Watkis listed her as his pick for female artiste of the year. He also went with Muir for breakthrough artiste, saying she managed to find her footing and made a mark that will make many pay attention in 2021.

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