Beenie Man, Dawn Penn, and Chaka Demus and Pliers are among the global artists with the best songs in the 90s.
Dancehall lovers have another reason to celebrate following the release of Pitchfork’s 250 Best Songs of The 1990s. Some of the stalwart artists of the era made the cut as Beenie Man’s “Who Am I (Sim Simma),” Dawn Penn’s “No, No, No (You Don’t Love Me)” and “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus and Pliers were all featured.
Beenie Man’s track came in at No. 168, while “No, No, No” is at No. 117, and “Murder She Wrote” has done the best, pulling a No. 92 position.
Jeremy Harding of 2 Hard Records, who is the producer of “Who Am I,” which was recorded on the Playground riddim spoke about the success of the song. He admitted that he never thought the track would become an international hit, even with all the airplay it was receiving on local radio.
Harding admitted that he knew it would be a local hit because the radio stations were playing it on repeat immediately, and the record shops were calling his distributor for more copies within the first few days of it being on the airwaves.
However, he also noted that back in the 90s, access to things like e-mail mp3s or social media was very limited, and so he had no real way to gauge just how successful the song was except for airplay.
It would be a few months before he got a phone call from David Rodigan to let him know that it was storming the BBC charts. That’s when he began to celebrate because he had hoped for a local hit but was grateful for the recognition of his talent as a music producer.
Harding also admitted that he was filled with a sense of pride as he considered that the track was among thousands of popular songs that impacted one of the most exciting decades of music globally. It was simply an amazing feeling to have the track featured alongside acts like Radiohead, Sheryl Crow, and Destiny’s Child, he continued.
“It’s a testament to the power of not just a good ‘riddim’ or a good artiste, but of a good song. It’s a generational hit record. It’s been trending for 25 years now,” he told the Observer.
“Who Am I” is definitely one of the Jamaican tracks that have done very well on a global level. It was released in 1997 and featured at No. 10 in the United Kingdom, No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, number six on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs, and No. 15 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.
It was also certified silver in the United Kingdom in 2019 by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for sales of over 200,000 units. Additionally, the song has permeated into US music as it has been sampled by several artists, including rappers Redman and Nelly.
The other two tracks on the list have also done well. Dawn Penn’s track was produced by Steely and Clevie and featured on several European charts when it dropped back in 1994. It peaked at No. 3 in the United Kingdom and has also been certified gold for sales exceeding 400,000 units in that country. To date, the song remains one of the most sampled song in dancehall history and has over 50 million combine views on YouTube.
“Murder She Wrote” has also been certified gold record in the United Kingdom and helped to take Chaka Demus and Pliers to stages worldwide.