As part of today’s music, we find ourselves experiencing a variety of collaborations and remixes recorded for our listening pleasure. Still, none of them come close to what this song accomplished. Suppose I ask you to name a track today that contains more than six performers, with four of them established headliners. We often see it in Reggaeton and Hip-Hop, but Jamaican artistes seem unwilling to participate in creating similar collaborations. The lack of published content from Jamaica proves my point. With over twenty years of existence and not going out of style, I chose to write about this song to illustrate how this masterpiece takes the title of “Greatest Dancehall Remix” of all time.
This song did not benefit from current tools such as social platforms or streaming services for exposure. Instead, it solely relied on record companies to distribute it to radio stations and DJs. A video shot by renowned director Hype Williams (who wrote and directed the movie Belly) provided a visual for this union. The addition of the video to BET, MTV, and The Box’s playlist allowed the video to reach popularity abroad, remaining one of the most requested videos in 1995. In this same year, the song reached #1 on the Jamaican chart and became the country’s top-selling single. Suppose you need additional bonafides. Not sure if I can list more because the song doesn’t require it. This song is the “Muhamad Ali” of Dancehall unions.
After watching the “Pass The Mic” Reggae Hits session (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtwZreBfpqY) from DJ Cassidy (https://twitter.com/djcassidy?lang=en), I realized how these songs still bring joy and memories of such an easier time in life for me and probably a lot of us. At that moment, I started thinking about a list of songs or a song that could be on this pantheon of “Greatest Dancehall” songs recorded in history. The “All-Star” cast that makes up the most incredible “Dancehall Remix” of all time draws in three established Dancehall artistes who enjoyed mainstream popularity and crossover appeal. You also add a Canadian artiste that had experienced success with his first album and a female singer who had established herself as a force in other collaborations. This “Dancehall Dream Team” ends up recording this timeless classic.
The track showcases a soft voice intro from Nadine Sutherland. You hear her say, “Buju, Terror, Beenie Man, and Snow, You said you’d do anything for me, but how far would you go?” that’s the lead-in that culminates in the most incredible 4:33 minutes recorded in Dancehall history. “Anything For You (Remix)” from Snow (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7U89chEfW8) packs a punch that blends in any music era. That’s why the inclusion of this track as part of VP Records’ 20th Anniversary compilation album stands as the crowning jewel, even today. (https://www.vpreggae.com/vp-20th-anniversary-various-artists-vp1568-2/) Reggae ambassadors should always treat this as the golden standard for Dancehall junctions.
Even before Snow starts with his renowned scattering and harmony, you hear him share the vocals with Nadine on the chorus. Then the King of Dancehall makes his presence felt in the first official verse. Beenie Man uses his unique voice and change of flow perfectly. He also is very clever when delivering lyrics. He drops a name and uses it as what we today call a crumb. In that verse, he says, “Well, I might be cool, I might be simple, But I’m not Richard Kimble But don’t judge me for a fugitive, you fool, cool.” The genius is at work, and we take it for granted.
The name Bennie Man mentioned on this line is the character from the series/movie “The Fugitive.” That reference and rhyme clearly show why Bennie was selected to carry the first verse. As Bennie approaches his conclusion, we start hearing Buju Banton chiming in and creating this unwritten dialogue between the two legends. Gargamel is the 4th to appear just over 90 seconds into the song. His deep and raspy voice blends in seamlessly with the baseline and drums. This combination provides the energy needed for the rest of the song to flourish. In the verses that he drops, he showcases the transformation of his voice, and this evolution is what took him from a dancehall star to a roots and culture icon.
The middle of the track reveals the reunion we knew would work. Nadine and Terror Fabulous had not been on a song together since their smash hit “Action.” Terror was the perfect artiste to follow Buju. They share some similarities in the raspiness of their voice, but their flow was what made them unique. Terror uses melody, but at the same time, you hear an aggressive tone in his verse. If you listen carefully, he’s a master at the pause and gasping for a breath technique, a staple for Dancehall recording artistes. Hearing Terror’s ability to deliver lyrics with such passion and ease makes me wonder why his career vanished without warning.
The rest of the song is composed by Snow, expanding his scattering and harmony while Nadine joins as part of the backdrop. Louie Culture and Kulcha Knox are the two remaining performers whose parts are often treated as an afterthought since they did not have the same name recognition as the headliners. Their contributions are not insignificant. Instead, they manage to impact this song with their lyrical content as they bring it to closure.
This track is now part of the golden age of Dancehall, and it does not go out of style. “Anything For You (Remix)” can be heard at concerts or during Caribbean festivals as part of the backdrop. I often catch young or old moving to it as it plays. That’s a sign that the song remains recognizable and catchy. As the title of this article states, this is me paying homage to what I consider the “Muhammad Ali” of Dancehall remixes. The people that recorded it checked their ego at the door and did it for the music. I often wonder if the same group is willing to get together and record an updated version, perhaps include new artistes and even expand the roster to allow some international performers to jump on with them.
You can agree or disagree with me, but for me, no other song comes close to what this song represents and continues to represent for the dancehall genre. Music is unity, and unity is music, and there should be more recordings like this around for us to enjoy.
Check out the track below.