Guh Suh Bada Bada
Most will agree that dancehall music has definitely changed. It’s no longer the hard-hitting beats and rhythms that rocked the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Although the music has evolved and there remain some great elements to it, we can argue that there is still something missing. Ward 21, one of dancehall’s most prolific groups of the late 90’s have noted this and have often tried to maintain that dancehall authenticity in their music. Production maestro, artiste and songwriter Kunley of Ward 21 argues that over the years Hip Hop producers and artistes have always sampled distinct dancehall and Reggae tracks and fused it with their music for greater appeal. Take Kanye West’s Mercy that samples dancehall dubplate legend Fuzzy Jones’ intro on Super Beagle’s 1993 Dust Out a Soundboy (which I may also add was a sample of Ansell Collins 1973 Stalag 17). Fast forward to 2013 and you’ll find French Montana’s Freaks makes his samples even more obvious with Lil Vicious’ Freaks as well as our beloved Bam Bam riddim. The question then beckons, why should we abandon the musical style that made our music so internationally renowned, for softer Prostyle and hip hop infused beats? Ward 21 has made it their mission to limit this change.
It is the aim of the group to bring dancehall back to what it was, beats and rhythms that made you want to dance the moment you heard it. For some reason, the riddims that made you hold your hands to the sky in a salute-like fashion is missing from dancehall. Riddims like Bam Bam, Pepperseed, Bug, Bruk Out, Showtime, Bada Bada, Gunshot, Stink and few more had audiences jumping the moment it comes on. Dancehall is still present, but that ‘jump out of your seat’ riddim is missing. If you don’t believe me, do you see Hip hop artistes and producers sampling any dancehall riddim or song made between 2010 and now? Keep thinking, I’ll wait.
In 2006, while young artistes Timberlee, Natalie Storm and Tifa – then called TNT – were on tour in North America, the media dubbed them “The Bada Bada Gals”. At the time they are an integral part of the Ward 21 camp and as such it would come as no surprise that they adopted the moniker and also included everyone in the camp after changing the “gals” to “gang”. It seemed very fitting, especially because the 1999 Bada Bada riddim was the one that put Ward 21 on the musical map as their first chart-topping production.
Tifa and Natalie Storm have since moved on, but the group lives on and has found new stewards. The mission is simple – bring dancehall back to its roots. Currently there are seven artistes in the Bada Bada Gang – Ward 21, Timberlee, Marcy Chin, Dee Wunn, CK, Point O and LOC.
Marcy Chin became the matriarch of the gang in 2013, when she realized the potential of the magificent seven. She believed there was an opportunity to capitalize on working with dancehall legends Ward 21. She ardently brought the movement to life by teaming up with Kunley of Ward 21 to officially launch BBG as Ward 21′s musical movement. Today, Marcy is one of two directors (Kunkey being the other) of the BBG, dedcating her time to ensure the members of the camp are living out their true potential.
“I just want them to take their opportunities into their own hands, and keep grinding. If they are passive, the world will never know the greatness that is BBG.” – Chin
“It is important for persons who view the music industry the same to form teams that can be the change,” Kunley says. “Team work is greater than any individual effort. We all have similar goals and aspirations. It is only right to put our efforts together to achieve the success we are destined for.”
This initiative is similar to what Dave Kelly and Madhouse Records tried to accomplish in the early 1990’s with Terror Fabulous, Nadine Sutherland, Louis Culture and a few others, however, Kunley explains that the Bada Bada Gang will go a step further than what Madhouse Records actually did. They will seek to ensure that like the Young Money entertainment Group in the United States, each artiste will be pushed to the limit and each artiste will have their time to shine, individually and with the group. The end result – world domination… one ear at a time.
This may not be difficult to achieve. Timberlee rose to prominence in 2006 with the breakout hit Bubble Like Soup. The track which was penned by Ward 21 mentor Kunley, shot up a number of charts locally and internationally. Timberlee who would follow that up with a slew of hot tracks like Wretchinel, Heels and General, began to make strides in the business, however, the artiste stepped away from the music to complete her studies abroad. Now, she is back and fully focused, ready to deliver to her fans and the dancehall community what she had given to them before. Bada Bada Gang, is a dynamic group, blessed with songwriters and producers. The other two ladies, Marcy Chin and CK, will provide something dancehall music has never seen before, in the way they deliver their artistry. While LOC and Dee Wunn, formerly of the rap group 13th Tribe, will aim to fuse their love for hip hop with dancehall, providing a fresh approach to our music, something many artistes seem too preoccupied to do. Point O’s hard hitting punch lines will demonstrate his lyrical prowess and inconspicuous effort to be different.
Together, they will form a team so formidable, dancehall music can only benefit, and with dancehall veterans Ward 21 steering the ship, little would place doubt in this group.