The nostalgia of 2010 Dancehall music pervades with producer NotNice gearing up to re-release his prolific Street Vybz riddim.
NotNice said he was flooded with requests to spin the block on the Street Vybz riddim, one of several collaborations between his eponymous label and Vybz Kartel’s Adidjahiem Records.
NotNice’s relationship with the Portmore Empire/Gaza principal started in 2008 when he released the Remand riddim with Portmore Empire member Blak Ryno. At the time, outside producers needed authorization to work with Gaza signees, warranting a phone call from the ‘Worl’ Boss’ who threatened legal action against him. Kartel quickly changed his tune, instead asking for the riddim files. The result was Kartel’s confessional Bail 4 Me, which opened the door for them to work on more projects, including the infectious Street Vybz production nearly two years later.
The magic of Street Vybz is nuanced. The project is a symbol of a time dominated by the Gaza clique, and a reinforcement of the golden Kartel-NotNice synergy heard on more projects like Fight Fi War, Gangster City, England Town, S-Class and, of course, the Miss Independent riddim.
Zooming in on Street Vybz, the intro’s low angelic choir captures NotNice’s twisted talent for creating eerie, dark moods. With the drop of the pulsating beat, the mood shifts to an addictive, upbeat bounce that still maintains the effortless cool of being associated with the Gaza collective.
The project further stood out because of its exclusive nature, limited to five songs from Gaza members only, namely the Teacha’s self-titled tune and Pure Love Mi Give Gyal, alongside Popcaan’s Up Inna Di Club, Shawn Storm’s Vybz Party and the Merital Family’s When We Party.
The party message was clear. Kartel was heavy on promoting his Street Vybz brand, which included a rum line (with former business partner Corey Todd) and a weekly party held at the now-defunct The Building in Kingston. Adding a riddim to the mix boosted brand awareness for the accompanying endeavours, highlighted on the self-titled track, which promotes the “Gaza party” as the place to be, with shameless plugs for Street Vybz rum as the secret to being Kartel adjacent.
A splendour of dancehall productions then was artists challenging themselves to make more than one song on the same riddim, leading to some sweetness for the ladies on Pure Love Mi Give Gyal.
A month before the project dropped, speculations ran rampant that Kartel was behind a brutal beating of former signee Gaza Kim. The deejay dismisses any engagement in violence towards women on the track, even opening about not retaliating after being attacked with a knife by his estranged wife, Tanesha ‘Shorty’ Johnson.
It’s the only “gyal tune” on the project, rewarded by most of the 4.6M Spotify streams for the entire juggling.
From here on out, it’s straight party vibes.
Popcaan’s Up Inna Di Club continues the promotion of the Thursday event and Street Vybz rum. But the ‘Unruly Boss’ inserts his own signature in the mix, toasting to his Clarks-completed fit, an aesthetic earlier established on his Clarks breakout with Kartel.
His track further paints a vivid picture of the women-flocking perks of his celebrity.
The theme continues on Shawn Storm’s Vybz Party, and Montego Bay’s Merital Family turns up the vibes with When We Party. The group captivates from the onset with a melodious “mmhmm” hook, with Keneil and since-deceased Corey Merital holding down the verses, and Blade Skeemaz carrying the sing-along chorus.
February will mark 14 years since the release of the riddim, and much has changed. NotNice, whose given name is Ainsley Morris, left the camp after thugs invaded his property and stole his equipment. He previously recalled the rough period that ensued, from living in a small studio with his son to running a failed exotic nightclub in St. Mary.
Dancehall’s ‘Kyng Midas’ resurfaced as the production genius behind then-emerging star Alkaline and did some work with Popcaan in their on-and-off relationship.
NotNice aside, the Portmore Empire crumbled following Kartel’s arrest in 2011, which also saw Shawn Storm being thrown behind bars.
In 2014, both men were sentenced to life in prison. They are currently appealing before the UK’s Privy Council court.
The Street Vybz brand also faded after Kartel and Todd’s business relationship grew sour.
Though the release date for the burgeoning rendition of the Street Vybz riddim is unconfirmed, it already has Chronic Law, Najeerii and dancer-cum-artist Kaka Highflames.
In a TikTok livestream on Monday, NotNice also confirmed that the rhythm inspired Armanii’s viral 2023 hit Dunce Barbie, produced by DJ Mac.