Billboard Names Top Reggae Artists of 2007

NEW YORK, NY (RHONA FOX, INC.) – The year is over and the charts are in. And although there have been infinite predictions from industry pundits, the only chart that really matters, at least in the U.S., is the Billboard chart. Here is how Billboard stacked up reggae’s top artists for 2007:

1 MATISYAHU
2 BOB MARLEY
3 STEPHEN MARLEY
4 DAMIAN “JR. GONG” MARLEY
5 SEAN PAUL
6 BOB MARLEY AND THE WAILERS
7 COLLIE BUDDZ
8 BUJU BANTON
9 NOTCH
10 BEENIE MAN

The Billboard chart is calculated by annual sales and radio airplay across the U.S. Topping the list and beating out reggae’s royalty, the Marleys, is Matisyahu – a Hassidic Jew hailing from Brooklyn, NY. There has been much commotion over his accolades as a reggae artist, especially when he also topped the Billboard chart back in 2006 and was nominated for the Grammy. As much critique as Matis has faced, he’s won over fans in the superlative. He is targeting a fan base that craves roots reggae music but somehow welcomes his unique delivery and packaging of the genre, rather than receiving it directly from native tongues like the Marleys and Banton.

One of the most-played joints currently across Rhona Fox, Inc.Europe and the States is by Danish rapper Natasja, who mimics Jamaican lingo over a catchy techno beat on the dancehall-reggaeton-house track “Calabria.” A tragic car accident claimed her life back in June in Kingston, Jamaica, but her take on dancehall reggae is blowing up worldwide and garnering more attention right now than most of the genre’s top stars.

The debate wages on and with this chart, many tongues will be wagging for months to come. The trend for non-native singers outside of Caribbean heritage echoing the strains of the genre and gaining more attention, radio airplay and record sales than Caribbean artists is baffling. It’s not that they do it better. Perhaps the answer can be found in the distribution and marketing of the product, which is oftentimes shuffled around only throughout the Caribbean and targeted international markets, never fully making it to the mainstream audience.

That said, kudos go out to Collie Buddz, an American-born Bermudian-raised reggae head who made a good showing this year with his self-titled debut album on the Sony imprint. He’s among good company, sitting at #7 on the Billboard Top Reggae Artists of 2007 chart.