Bounty Killer Says Dancehall Has Gotten “Too Dark”

Dancehall veteran Bounty Killer doesn’t mince words when it comes to his criticism of modern Dancehall.

He’s expressed disapproval of the hip-hop-fused beats and decreased rhyming, and is now revisiting the tone and lyrical direction. 

“The choice of words weh the youth dem a sing nowadays, it too nasty,” the It’s Ok deejay told The Cut. “Yuh haffi mek Dancehall get likkle more marketable. Dancehall too dark, it too gothic, it too informative. It just a do too, too, too much. You need to tone it down back.”

He explained his point with the “less is more” argument, drawing for the flirty innuendoes of Terror Fabulous and Nadine Sutherland’s 1993 classic Action

“One of the biggest dancehall song, ‘Action, not a bag of mouth’, til this day, and you say less and say more,” Bounty said before referencing his own song Worthless Boy. Produced by Dave Kelly, the 1994 track defied the day’s songwriting structure, using a four-bar framework per verse.

“That a the most genius thing Dave ever do to me when me and him start work,” he said. “The man give me a song with four bar fi the verse… Mi seh, ‘How this a go work? Four-four bar?’. Until this day, a one of the biggest gyal song mi have. All of them with 16 bar and 12 bar and eight bar nuh bad like the four bar one, so, it’s like the less information becomes more information… A dem likkle bit a lyrics deh go far. The whole heap a lyrics dem a headache dem and stress.”

His praises for Kelly continued while assessing the mixing quality of today’s music. The Madhouse Records genius is behind Bounty and Cham’s collaborative EP, Time Bomb.

“When you play the instruments dem, you can hear the quality coming through the speakers and most people nuh care bout mix nowadays, true a computer dem a play the music pon… Yuh nah play it inna clubs and pon radio, that’s why dem nuh have that quality control cause a man just put it pon TikTok and it buss.”

He pointed to a lackadaisical attitude towards creating music today, something he recently raised regarding the songwriting of new-gen artists.

“If you listen to Bob Marley music, it mix better than the youth dem music today and Bob Marley music mix 30 to 40 years ago. That mean a nuh engineering problem, a lackadaisical cause if engineer coulda mix Bob music so good 40 years ago and we have 10 times advance equipment now, why our music can’t mix even up to the par of that? Muchless even better?”

All hope is not lost, as Bounty commended some artists for getting it right, namely Dexta Daps, Masicka and Vybz Kartel

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