Under 300: Gabriel Heatwave

<300 is a regular feature in which we ask one established producer, DJ, or musician to present 5 selections from the music-networking platform SoundCloud that have less than 300 plays, but deserve to be heard by the world. Selectors will provide a few sentences about each to give us a sense of where and when these sounds are coming from. For our third installment, we have the guidance of Rinse.FM DJ and internationally renowned tastemaker, Dancehall and Bashment selector Gabriel Heatwave.

Through his blog, which has taken on various cultural histories of reggae and its diaspora in the UK and US, his weekly radio show on Rinse.FM, and his work as a touring DJ alongside vocalists like Serocee and Rubi Dan, Gabriel Heatwave has had no small hand in reigniting widespread interest in Jamaican music abroad.  Check these hot finds from this underground celebrity and grab these tunes before your friends do!


Part of the ongoing ‘war’ between Beenie Man and Vybz Kartel. Using inverted commas cos it just doesn’t seem as serious as Beenie Man vs Bounty Killer or Vybz Kartel vs Mavado was. I prefer when dancehall clashes are a bit more friendly anyway; there’s no need for it to spill over into such intense rivalry and opposition. I also love it when artists do a diss song in such a joyful way: the contrast between medium and message is pretty sweet.
This is a tune that shows perfectly that dancehall has gone fully global. Born in Jamaica but raised in London, Lea-Anna is one of the brightest rising stars in UK dancehall thanks to breakout hits Kisses and Kitty Kat. Sway features a euphoric beat by Swedish producer Adde, who also made Vybz Kartel’s Summer Time, one of the biggest summer hits in Jamaica this year. When you have a Swede making the hottest riddim in Jamaica you know that it’s a global movement!
Classic 90s ragga from UK legend Glamma Kid. Sticky put me on to this tune cos he used to play it all the time back in the day. It’s the same riddim (Playground) as Beenie Man’s Who Am I (Zim Zimma) so it’s the kind of thing you can drop anywhere and people will recognise it. But then Glamma’s vocal gives it a twist: his vocal variety and tone is crazy. This is actually on The Heatwave Soundcloud page: we posted it a couple months back cos Glamma performed at our Showtime live event alongside Wiley, General Levy, Skibadee and loads more MCs.
Soca from St Vincent. Skinny had one of 2010’s biggest soca hits with the explosive and energetic anthem Duracell (Charge Up). I saw him perform it in London last summer and way he got the whole crowd going NUTS was insane. The Cave is in the same vein: “We energise and amp up, am up, am up; the man start to stamp up, we stamp up!”.
Ward 21 are the most innovative crew in Jamaica. Versatile too: they produce, MC and DJ. Their riddims always break the mold and the sounds and patterns they use are extravagant. As vocalists they don’t do normal, with mad rhyme schemes, high/low voices constantly contrasting and some of the weirdest melodies in dancehall. I love how when they do something off the wall you can hear how much fun they’ve had making it.