2020 has taken away most of what we enjoy and unfortunately, Notting Hill Carnival 2020 was just another casualty of the global coronavirus pandemic.
For the last half a century and a bit, crowds flooded to the streets of Notting Hill to celebrate Caribbean culture and today, the hearts of many feel sombre as their beloved event was taken away.
Notting Hill Carnival digital events can be found across the internet and many of you have been enjoying these in your homes with friends and family (socially distanced of course).
In case you need some tracks to lift your mood and to transport you to the Islands, here are fifteen tracks that need to be on your (Virtual) Notting Hill Carnival 2020 playlist.
15) Slida & Swipe – “Back Fi Ya Bend”
This soca gem comes from Grenadian artists Slida and Swipe. Taking to the Crazy Jab Riddim which is also home to other carnival must-haves like Cloud 5’s “No Behavior (Whole Place Shell Down)” and G-Ant’s “You Fraid”, Slida and Swipe provide a jabbing anthem that is sure to get you up and moving.
14) GMB – “Practice”
Another soca offering on this playlist is GMB’s hit “Practice”.
The track perfectly describes what the vibe at carnival is all about – dancing, drinking and positive energy.
The lyrics encourage whining and jiggling – making the track a carnival staple.
The UK’s own Russ Millions added a verse to the remix and he brings his unique cadence to the track by providing additional verses and vocals.
13) Major Lazer, Mr. Killa & Diplo – “Soca Storm” (Honourary mention: Mr Killa. “Run Wid It”)
Mr. Killa has several soca hits under his belt such as “Oil It” and “Run Wid It” and this 2020 release is sure to be his latest.
With its high energy and call to action lyrics, this track will have you at home dancing on your imaginary truck.
12) Vybz Kartel featuring Sikka Rymes – “Like I’m Superman”
Vybz Kartel still undeniably runs dancehall despite his incarceration. During his recent No Signal Soundclash against Wizkid, Kartel fans were out in droves to celebrate and represent their Worl’ Boss.
With dancehall fans and Jamaicans taking to carnival in the masses, there is no doubt that this dancehall hit from Di Teacha would’ve been a crowd favourite.
11) iLL Blu, M24 & Unknown T – “DUMPA”
The timeline is forever debating what genres do and don’t belong at Notting Hill Carnival.
We can agree that soca and calypso are historically synonymous with Caribbean carnival but with NHC taking place in London where the vibrant melting pot of multiculturalism is embraced, for the most part, it has almost become a Notting Hill Carnival tradition in recent years that floats playing the best in all black music – be it dancehall, reggae, jungle, drum and bass, hip-hop, grime, drill and even afrobeats – are popular.
This track from iLL Blu and two of drill’s most prolific artists is the perfect representation of London culture.
Jamaicans have influenced the style, music and culture of Londoners since their arrival in the 1940s and this track perfectly represents how many Londoners embrace Jamaica’s language, music and style.
Look out for a sample of Vybz Kartel’s “Dumpa Truck” on this one and enjoy the infectious sounds of the track which are sure to have to you in good vibes.
10) Cashh & WSTRN – “WAG1”
After some time spent in Jamaica, Cashh returned to the UK late last year and the artist has been generous with his releases ever since.
On this one, he links up with WSTRN who have been dominating UK airwaves and playlists with their dancehall-inspired tracks such as “Txtin'” featuring Alkaline, “Sharna” and of course their fan-favourite, “Ben Ova”.
“WAG1” is a feel-good track that perfectly represents warm weather and fun – everything we want on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
9) IQ & Tre Bleu – “Instruction”
Carnival revellers love a dance anthem and this whine and bubble call to action track from IQ is perfect for di road.
The track is upbeat, the BPM is higher than standard dancehall and the lyrics call for movement and high energy.
With its male and female perspective and its memorable lyrics, this track is sure to have everyone at your virtual carnival following your instruction.
8) Koffee – “Lockdown”
This visuals to this track, unfortunately, made headlines for nosey and speculative reasons but no one should be focused on anything here other than Koffee’s hit-making ability.
Taking a positive spin on the negative connotations of the word “Lockdown” that many of us have been battling with in recent months, Koffee offered us a fun, romantic and happy track that invited us to think about chasing our passions – wherever they might be.
Koffee took over carnival last year with “Toast” so it is a must (pun intended) to have her latest upbeat offering on your Carnival 2020 playlist.
7) Shenseea – “Foreplay” (Honorary mention: Rvssian, Swae Lee, Young Thug and Shenseea – “IDKW”)
Shenseea is dancehall’s woman of the moment.
With all of her releases racking up millions of views on YouTube and her features portfolio boasting artists like Christina Aguilera, Young Thug, Vybz Kartel and Tyga, the world is clearly paying attention to her.
This raunchy track sample’s Vybz Kartel’s 2010 release “Virginity” and like the activity she describes in her lyrics, this track drives crowds wild thanks it’s steady riddim, slackness and raw energy.
Play this track and try your best to control your waistline – I promise you, it will be an almost impossible task.
Much like this track, Shenseea’s collab “IDKW” also samples a Jamaican classic so be sure to add that to your playlist too.
6) Konshens – “Backaz”
Keeping to the slack dancehall theme, we have Konshens and his salacious anthem “Backaz”.
Not much needs to be said about this one from dancehall’s prominent hitmaker. With its hard-hitting beat, the call to action lyrics and Konshens’ undeniable charm – this track is a carnival must.
Please tun it back way responsibly.
5) Popcaan – “Mamakita” (Honourable mention – Popcaan featuring MIST – “Buzz”)
Joining the Konshens track above on the Incredible Riddim is the Unruly Boss and OVO signee Popcaan with “Mamakita”.
The track celebrates the leading lady in Poppy’s life and invites her to ride and whine on him.
Included on Popcaan’s Fixtape project which dropped this summer, the track is a certified carnival-made offering and features all of the artist’s star elements that his fans adore.
Also taken from Fixtape is “Buzz” – the trim and barber boastful anthem that is sure to also take your party to the next level.
4) Stylo G, Spice & Sean Paul – Dumpling (Remix)
The original version of this track made last year’s list but months later, Stylo dropped this all-star remix which has had the track dominating the dancehall scene again this year.
With hard-hitting verses, colour, creative flair and boasty lyrics, the track perfectly embodies dancehall and it makes for the perfect addition to your carnival playlist.
3) Masicka and Dexta Daps – “Leader”
Aside from whining anthems and party bangers, carnival is also home to inspirational tracks and positive energy-enhancing songs.
“Leader” from Masicka and Dexta Daps is perhaps the biggest reflective dancehall track to drop in the last 12 months and the track marks just one of many hits for two of Jamaica’s most prolific artists.
2) Kranium – “Gal Policy”
Kranium joins the Soul Survivor riddim with this one which is also home to tracks from Alkaline and Mavado.
“Gal Policy” is raw and malicious in some places but perhaps that’s why it’s so loved – the track is honest and reflective about the realities of modern-day situationships and the interactions that are had between some men and women.
Agree with him or don’t but “Gal Policy” has quickly become a dominant force on dancehall playlists and the lyrics have been draped across more Instagram captions and tweets than you’ll be likely to count.
Carnival is always home to dancehall hits and “Gal Policy” has proven itself to be just that.
1) Dexta Daps – “Breaking News”
Perhaps the biggest track in dancehall at the moment comes from Jamaica’s serial serenader, Dexta Daps.
“Breaking News” is the artist’s larger than life anthem that sings to a woman scorned and mistreated – asking her to seek better.
The ad-libs, the production, the message and Dexta’s suaveness has blown the track up to epic proportions and there is no way that any party, dinner, drink up, BBQ or anything being held in the name of carnival should exclude this track.
Enjoy your quarantine carnival and stay safe!