When The Pier’s editor James challenged us to come up with a list of the best reggae-rock collabs we panicked a bit – how do you pick THE BEST??? In the end, we ended up going with our favorites, the songs that we don’t want out of our heads, the ones that we later found out inspired our other favorites, collabs of our favorites and the reason why we have new favorites.
There is something wonderful that happens when your favorite artist collaborates, it opens up a forum for audiences as well as musicians to explore new stylings, productions, and probably more, which can create the sweet, sweet ear candy.
We came up with the below list that appears in no particular order. The list runs the spectrum from west coast inspired reggae, to rock and R&B fused flavors to Dancehall, Soundsystem hits.
“I’m Still in Love With You” Sean Paul, Sasha
Another Dancehall flavored song, “I’m Still In Love With You” is a classic hit from Sean Paul. Although it is a remake with the original artist Alton Ellis who interestingly enough sang the tune with his sister, and we’ll leave that there. But it was Sean Paul who took the one-night stand gone all emotions and attachment-themed song to the top of the U.S. Urban and Contemporary Billboard charts. For me, it perfectly captures the early aughts both in lyrical content and sound and takes me back. Every. Single. Time. The song features Sasha who saw tremendous success in her career, she even wrote a riddim which was remixed by the Goddess of Reggaeton Ivy Queen herself. -M.R.
LONG BEACH DUB ALLSTARS – “SUNNY HOURS” feat. Will.i.am
Long Beach Dub Allstars’ hypnotic feel-good “Sunny Hours” perfectly blended together 90s alt-rock riffs, and pop sensibilities with a little hip-hop seasoning courtesy of Black Eyed Peas Will.I.Am. The end result would go on to become an infectious staple of late 90s alt-rock radio that was unfortunately derailed when the album was released on the same day as the September 11th attacks. — J.W.
“Women Comes First” Hirie, Nattali Rize
The fantastic collab between Hirie and Natalie Rize, “Women Comes First” appeared on Hirie’s sophomore chart toping album “Wondering Soul.” The album catapulted HIRIE centerstage with it not only topping the Reggae Charts but also landing on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Women Comes First” is a soulful roots reggae, R&B fusion song that hits just right on the message of women empowerment. This collab later inspired the epic Women Comes First Tour with Hirie and Nattali Rize. It is a timeless song with a message that will always resonate both lyrically and sonically. -M.R.
“Broken Crowns” Matisyahu and Common Kings
When Common Kings first debuted, it was immediately apparent that they were on an atmospheric trajectory. This song was released within the same year as their chart-topping debut and GRAMMY-nominated album Lost In Paradise. “Broken Crowns” definitely carried their momentum with a co-sign from the renowned musician Matisyahu and the collab inspired the Broken Crowns Tour featuring both Common Kings and Matisyahu. It is a modern take on reggae with a relaxed atmosphere and Matisyahu’s heady lyrics. A great song to listen to when staring into the void and contemplating life. -M.R.
COMMON KINGS – “TODAY’S A NEW DAY” feat. ¡MayDay!
Common Kings’ “Today’s A New Day” feat. ¡Mayday! is a warm ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. The song lifts listeners up and instantly puts a smile on your face the moment the song kicks in and you crank up the speakers. The unlikely pairing of Common Kings’ soaring soulful melodies mixed with ¡Mayday’s catchy-as-hell hip-hop hooks elevates this track to a cut above the rest. –J.W.
“Twice My Age” Shabba Ranks, Krystal
We cannot talk about the best reggae collabs without looking at the reggae adjacent/influenced genre of Dancehall. One of my personal favorites is the classic “Twice My Age” by Shabba Ranks who has been credited with the creation of reggeaton through the extensive sampling of his riddim “Dem Bow.” The collaborator is Krystal who in the song is the voice of reason as she explains why she fell for someone twice her age, with banter from Shabba Ranks about why he thinks she would fall a silver fox. The song has all the elements of a dancefloor favorite, from the rhythmic bass, to the crisp vocals. It originally appeared on his 1988 VP release “Rappin’ with the Ladies” and Krystal appears on a few other songs within that album. The song most recently appears in the “Down in Jamacia” 40 Years of VP Records coveted box set. -M.R.
DIRTY HEADS – “DANCE ALL NIGHT” Feat. Matisyahu
“Dance All Night” lays down some massive reggae grooves as Dirty Heads and Matisyahu creates a perfect sonic cocktail. “Dance All Night” is a classic Dirty Heads sing-along anthem that shows their versatility and the guest vocals from Matisyahu will surely get the listener’s feet moving in the proper direction. — J.W.
COMMON KINGS – “QUEEN MAJESTY” feat. Sammy Johnson & The Green
Combining their R&B and classic soul influences, The Green, Sammy Johnson, and Common Kings all joined forces to record this star-studded cover of the reggae classic of “Queen Majesty” by The Techniques. This version of the song features The Green’s Caleb Keolanui, Common Kings Junyer King, and Sammy Johnson mixing together to flex some impressive vocal performances on this all-star cover. “Queen Majesty” would later go on to win Best Collaboration at the 2020 Island Music Awards. — J.W.
Article by James Wright and Mercedes Romana