What's up in Jamaica right now is the murder rate. Should the homicides continue at their current pace—over 1,180 since January—Jamaica could end the year with the highest per capita murder rate in the world. What's that got to do with Shaggy, Sean Paul, and other dancehall acts releasing albums this fall? Nothing. And that's their and dancehall's potential dilemma. Violence isn't new to Jamaica; neither is dancehall's role as escapism-cum-therapy. But when flamboyant dancer Gerald Bogle Levy— virtually a symbol of dancehall itself—was murdered in Kingston in January, a line was crossed: The sacred realm of the dance, outré sanctuary from the harsh realities of ghetto life, had been bloodied. More than ever, the conscious, one-drop reggae that began dominating the scene last year better fits the national mood. Soothing or seething, roots had enough fire to trivialize dancehall: The massive willie-bounced while... More >>>