Vybz Kartel remains the top dancehall artiste on YouTube in Jamaica for 2021. The final data for January through to the end of December of 2021 are in. While some preliminary numbers were published last year and have been making the rounds, these did not take into account numbers for the month of December, 2021.
For the first time, new dancehall artists are dominating the streaming views on YouTube, the end of year analytics of the platform shows. While the top 10 most streamed artists list tend to be the more well-known and established artists, the top 10 most streamed songs tell a different story as the upcoming artists’ numbers outrun the veterans and the established artists by leaps and bounds.
1. Vybz Kartel – 64.1 million
Leading the Top 10 list is a surprising competitor, Cocomelon (no surprise here since kids are on YouTube in Jamaica), but Vybz Kartel is the top dancehall artiste on the platform in terms of views. For music in Jamaica, he is number one which is a different scenario from the Spotify numbers, which showed that the artist had placed at No. 3 behind his arch-rival Alkaline at No. 2 and Drake at No. 1.
The artist had shared that he was not thrilled at the Spotify ranking and even bashed the streaming service and fans for supporting foreign music, aka Drake. He has not shared his Spotify numbers, but YouTube shows that his 2021 numbers are unmatched, with a whopping 415 million views from January to December 2021.
Kartel’s listeners were drawn from Kingston, New York, Nairobi, Kenya, Georgetown, Guyana, Toronto, Canada, and Panama City. YouTube’s analytics showed Vybz Kartel had 64.1 million views. As for the music that accounts for the high plays, his No. 1 most played song is “With You,” with 28.7 million views, followed by “African Summer” with 15.9 million at No. 2.
Despite his appeal case not flowing in a timeline suitable to what his fans expect, the artist managed to be successful in being granted leave to appeal his murder conviction at the Privy Council based in the United Kingdom. The date did not materialize in 2021, and the artist is still in jail, but he still managed to make some inroads with his case as his lawyer feels his client has raised a good amount of doubt when it comes to the evidence that was used to convict the deejay. Aside from his legal worries, Vybz Kartel had an interesting year. There were talks that he became vaccinated and even offered to support the government’s vaccine message program, that he was possibly baptized (which he later shot down to the dismay of his Christian fans), and the artist also stirred controversy with his Fox news jail cell special interview. Despite all of that, Kartel is still running the show from jail!
Musically, he dropped one album, Born fi Dis, and two EPs- X-Rated and Dancehall Royalty. To top his year off, the deejay became a grandpa for the second time!
2. Chronic Law – 63.8 million
The second dancehall artist on the top 10 most streamed artist list is Chronic Lawat No. 3 with 63.8 million views which is a close call to Vybz Kartel’s numbers. There was no breakdown available for Chronic Law’s streaming, but a quick check of his YouTube page shows that the artist has been consistently uploading new music every few days. Some of his music which does not have videos, has racked up millions of views. Chronic Law is rated as one of the best dancehall artists on the scene right now. His official Spotify streaming numbers have not been released, but on the artist list, he came in at No. 34, a far cry from his performance on YouTube.
As for his achievements over the period, the artiste dropped his album ‘1law’ and his EP Paradise Riddim both in 2021.
3. Alkaline – 60.5 million
Dancehall’s Champion Boy Alkaline next follows in the third position with 60.5 million views. His total plays were 211 million plays from the January-December 2021 period, with the most-streamed songs being “Cree” at No. 1 with 9.46 million plays and “Hostage” at No. 1 with 8.36 million plays.
Alkaline was the first Jamaican dancehall artist to headline a Spotify dancehall playlist when the streaming service was launched in February 2021 in Jamaica. At the end of the year, it was announced that he was the most played dancehall artist coming in before Vybz Kartel. Of course, the differences between the Spotify positions are that most Jamaicans rely on YouTube for their music which is free, versus Spotify, which is subscription-based but also limited in terms of curating dancehall music. Still, it’s a major feat for Alkaline, who is an independent artist who broke out on the scene around 2013 with his first album, “New Level Unlocked.”
The Reggae Billboard chart-topper has, however, maintained a presence out of the spotlight but still delivered consistent hits to his fans. Among his achievements for the past 12 months was dropping another sensational listening piece, Top Prize, which accounts for a good chunk of the plays the artist received for the year.
4. Skillibeng – 51.8 million
The fourth place was taken by newcomer Skillibeng who had 51.8 million views. Born Emwah Warmington, the artiste is just 24 years old but rocking the local and international scene with his hit songs. While there is no breakdown for his total plays, Skillibeng is one to watch this new year as he has proven that he has the winning ticket when it comes to making hit songs.
Skillibeng has had an impressive year thanks to his music and collaborations with the likes of Nicki Minaj for their “Crocodile Teeth” remix. The artist was among Spotify’s top 10 most played artists, coming in at No. 7 among the greats like Vybz Kartel, Alkaline, Shaggy and Sean Paul, and more, and he featured on the list of the top songs by Spotify with three of his hits making the cut including “Crocodile Teeth, “Coke” and “Not.”
The past 12 months have been great for Skillibeng, who started his career in May 2019 with his single “Rain.” Among his accomplishments for the year was his debut album, which featured artists like Bobby Shmurda, Popcaan, Spice, and others.
On the personal side, the artist welcomed his baby boy with his girlfriend, YouTuber Taveion. And as if things couldn’t get better, he kicked off 2022 on top of Audiomack’s Most streamed Reggae/ Dancehall artist list on Audiomack for January 2022, leading Popcaan, Alkaline, Jahmiel, and Masicka, respectively.
5. Intence – 50.2 million
The fifth artist on the YouTube most-streamed artists list is Intence, with 50.2 million views.
The artist’s most played song was “Yahoo Boyz,” with 9.5 million plays, followed by “Clutcha,” with 2.4 million plays. Intence has been on the scene since 2017, but he basically blew up musically in 2019 with his hits “She Dem Real” and “Go Hard.” He made notable ground in 2021 as an artist here to stay with his provocative content in “Yahoo Boyz” and his debut Wounded EP, both released in 2021.
As for his performance internationally, Intence has proven that he is loved by his fans abroad. He made the impressive accomplishment of being the only artist with a Jamaican song (“Yahoo Boyz” released in July 2021) to be on Spotify’s top 10 most-played songs in Jamaica for 2021. The entire top 10 list was dominated by foreign artists except for Intence, who came in at No. 6.
6. Masicka – 45.9 million
Masicka came in at No. 7 with 45.9 million views and 110 million plays over the 12 months in 2021. It’s no surprise that Masicka has made this list as he has been very consistent with not only releasing music but also creating hit songs for his dedicated following.
A look at the singer’s YouTube chart shows his plays were average, but around the time he released his album ‘438’, there was an uptick in plays. Still, it wasn’t the new album that was responsible for his placement on most-streamed artists. Songs like “Leader” featuring Dexta Daps and Dunwell with 9 million plays was his No. 1 song for the year. Even though that song was released two years ago, it has 23 million views. “I Wish,” with 8.48 million plays, is at No. 2.
On the other hand, Masicka has shown a consistent level of listenership locally and internationally as he came in at No. 4 on Spotify’s most-streamed Reggae/Dancehall artist for 2021. Masicka, who first came on the scene in 2011 with his smash single “Guh Haad and Done,” had made a good stride in 2021. His song “I Wish” cut Spotify’s Top 75 Songs while 438 debuted on the Billboard Reggae Chart at No. 2.
The album has remained on the chart, first moving to No. 4 then to No. 10 in its fourth week since being released. So far, MRC data from Billboard says that the album has sold over 5,000 total pure album sales and album-equivalent units. As for digital song sales, his streaming was up with 1,287,700 On-Demand audio streams and 80,700 On-Demand Video Streams in just the third week along.
Masicka has managed to achieve longevity on the Billboard chart by staying on for a fourth week, unlike previous albums released in 2021 by the likes of Spice, Sean Paul, even Vybz Kartel, and Alkaline, which stayed on average one week.
The album is a superior piece of work and shows the artist’s growth as well as his writing skills. With continued effort, Masicka is headed for mainstream international music, and he is an excellent ambassador for great dancehall music at that. One thing his fans have anticipated was the wait for new music, but it was worth it as the artist delivered.
7. Teejay – 43.4 million
Teejay came in at No. 8 with 43.4 million views. It’s been a big year for Teejay as he changed management from Romeich Entertainment to Solid Agency, managed by Sharon Burke. Among his top-performing songs for the 12 months are “Weed and Money,” released five months ago with 1.9 million views, and his song “Rags to Riches,” which was first released in 2020, but the video was created in 2021 and has 32 million overall views.
He also released his EP Unlimited earlier in 2021 and plans to release his debut album Rags to Riches in 2022. So far, he has released one song from the album called “Escobar,” which has had 2 million views since being released in November 2021. The song, if anything, sets the tone for the album- a motivational theme that might be pervasive in the album given the title of the project and the original song. While speaking about the upcoming album at the end of 2021, Teejay told the Jamaica Star he is hoping that the album would help him cross over into the mainstream music audiences as he targets paying listeners.
8. Popcaan – 39.9 million
Rounding off at No. 9 is Popcaan which is surprising as Popcaan has had an active music year for 2021 with almost half a dozen releases for the 12 months. The artist was also seen touring more, and who can blame him as 2020 was mainly lockdowns worldwide, and in 2021, there was some loosening of measures as festivals and events resumed.
Popcaan still scooped up 39.9 million views and 288 million plays from fans spanning the world over from Nairobi, the United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, and strong support from fans in Trinidad and Guyana and Puerto Rico, and others.
Popcaan’s most-streamed song was “Silence,” with 16.7 million plays. The song was released in 2018, while his 2021 release “God Is Love,” featuring the legendary Beres Hammond, came in at No. 2 with 13.6 million views.
For the most part, it was still a great year for Popcaan as he was also listed at No. 15 on Spotify’s most played artist list in Jamaica. His music was also recognized with a nomination for Best Reggae Act by the UK MOBO awards, which he lost out on to Shenseea, and he also won three awards – the Best R&B/Hip Hop Collaboration Reggae Song with his track “Twist” featuring Drake; the U-Roy Award for Best Male Deejay; and the Best Crossover Song for “Party Next Door,” also featuring Drake at the 39th Annual IRAWMA Awards in the U.S.
9. Squash – 38.2 million
Rounding off the Top 10 is Montego Bay dancehall artist Squash. The deejay might have been keeping a low profile, but musically he was far from being low profile as he racked up 38.2 million views for the year.
The artiste consistently released new music in 2021, with eye-popping dozen-odd songs dropped. Squash first released his debut album in 2020, Mr. Whittaker, a joint venture with his label 6ix Is Real Records and VP Records. Although he did not release a solo project, Squash was featured in Di 6ixtape released through VP Records and featuring songs from other members of the 6ix – Chronic Law, Daddy1, and the dancehall Worl’Boss himself Vybz Kartel.
Over the period, the G City Crew member has released several songs on YouTube, with each having upwards of 2 million views. While Squash has been around since 2016, his music is still considered underground mainly because of the content which glorifies scamming and gun violence. Nevertheless, to rise among the greats is an achievement. The artist previously said he had his sights set for a Grammy Award, but he failed to meet the threshold with his last project. Perhaps it’s time time to focus on dropping another album.
10. Tommy Lee Sparta – 34.9 million
Tommy Lee Sparta also had a big year on the musical front despite his incarceration. His lack of ability to tour the United States has not slowed him down as he maintained a large fanbase in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
Over the course of 12 months from January to December 2021, Tommy Lee Sparta racked up 34.9 million streams.
The top 15 dancehall artistes.
11. Skeng – 34 million
12. Shenseea – 27 million
13. Rygin King – 26 million
14. Dexta Daps – 24.5 million
15. Spice – 21.8 million
Overall, this top 10 list had many surprises. While some were expected, it showed that other artists, especially the professionally young ones, were out to make a name, and nothing is stopping them in 2022 if they keep up the same momentum.