Bashment vs Dancehall - what's the difference?


Stocktown man
To me, looking at the matter from an outside perspective (living in Sweden), it seems clear that although the word "ragga" (derived from "raggamuffin") exists in the Jamaican vocabulary, it is only in UK that it refers to a specific musical style.

That musical style is exactly the same as what in Jamaica is called "dancehall". Absolutely no difference, "ragga" is just a British word for it. I have no idea why British people just couldn't call it dancehall, it just seems they had to come up with their own little word for it, very strange.

It's equally strange that they then had to come up with a new word for the same thing, when it started to be called "bashment" in UK in the mid '90s. Some people in this thread has described "ragga" and "bashment" as being different styles of Jamaican music, produced in different eras, with different sounds. You could put it like that, but I think it would be more correct to simply say that "ragga" is what British people called dancehall before, and "bashment" is what they call dancehall now.

Someone also said that "dancehall" in Jamaica refers to a more specific style of jamaican music, the sound of late '70s/early '80's. I'd say that's when the term was born, after earlier terms like "ska", "rocksteady", "reggae" and so on, but that doesn't mean that the term refers specifically to that sound only. Jamaicans still call what is being made today dancehall (what British people would call "bashment"), so in language Jamiacans make no difference between say, Eek-A-Mouse and Elephant Man. It's all dancehall. If Jamaican music once was in the "ska era" and then moved on to the "reggae era", I guess one could say that we are still in the "dancehall era" that began in the late '70s/early '80's. At least in terms of how music is being categorized in Jamaica.


i thoguth ragga was a prefix which came about as necessary in the UK when other styles started adopting dancehall influences eg. ragga-jungle


Beast of Burden
i ran this by a friend of mine from kingston (though he's lived in the states for 10 years now)

according to him -- or at least my interpretation, as we talking in a rather loud and hectic bar -- the term "ragga" is uk in origin, descended from "raggamuffin," and when the term first came into use in jamaica it was in connection with the uk jungle sound -- but people in jamaica understood the term from the get go, that it meant "ruff" and "wicked" and "badass," and so they began to use it to describe a certain segment of the uk jungle sound as well as some homegrown dancehall

however, there is no such category as "ragga dancehall" for jamaicans -- and they would not use the term to describe 85-to-95 dancehall exclusively

i.e., it's all "dancehall" -- whether from 1980 or 1990 or 2005 -- it's simply called dancehall

but if a track is called "ragga" -- then it means a particularly wicked UK jungle or JA dancehall track -- i.e., "bad man" music

as for the term bashment -- this IS jamaican in origin -- and it means this song or track is "really bash" -- i.e., wicked or badass -- i.e., the kinda track that can make the party happen -- i.e., the birthday bash

so any track that can get the birthday bash rocking is bash -- i.e., not simply JA dancehall, but also US hip hop or, for that matter, any track from anywhere on earth so long as the track has got that "bashing" power

even so, it seems that the term "bashment" did not appear until 2000 and does have a rather close connection with JA dancehall that is heavily influenced by US hip hop -- and I failed to have my friend clarify this complication

so in short, this is what he said:

(1) ragga is UK in origin and was adopted by jamaicans in early 90s to describe certain UK jungle records and, secondarily, the ruffer and more wicked end of dancehall

(2) bashment in JA in origin and comes on board sometime around 2000 and can basically be applied to any track that can make the "bash" happen

(3) dancehall is strictly dancehall for jamaicans -- and they don't divide it up into genres or use different terms to describe the music of different eras in dancehall


Taking History Too Far
dominic said:
(2) bashment in JA in origin and comes on board sometime around 2000 and can basically be applied to any track that can make the "bash" happen

But it's also used to describe a particular reggae scene in the UK too?

Thanks for that, very interesting.


Stocktown man
Well, the oldest song I could remember that uses the word "bashment" (with a little help from the excellent site is Bashment Girl from 1996 (Joyride riddim).

So the term has definitely been around before 2000.

As for the meaning of the term, it seems confusing. I like the logic that since a "bash" is party, "bashment" is a descriptive word derived from "bash", that describes something that can enhance the party mood. For example, a bashment tune is a tune that can get the party going.

But I think that the term has actually come to mean just "party", that is, it's not an adjective anymore, but a noun. All patois dictionaries on the web seems to support this, they say bashment = party. Although I don't normally trust those dictionaries that much, I think they're probably right in this case. Then a bashment tune would just mean a party tune. But maybe I'm splitting hairs here...

matt b

Indexing all opinion

having a skim through beth lesser's 'jammy's' book and she states that the first song to use 'raggamuffin' was half pint's 'greetings', and the first to use it in a song title was jux's raggamuffin year' (both 1986).

that is all.



having a skim through beth lesser's 'jammy's' book and she states that the first song to use 'raggamuffin' was half pint's 'greetings', and the first to use it in a song title was jux's raggamuffin year' (both 1986).

that is all.

Technically that may be right, but I think Brigadier Jerry's 'Raggamuffin' from the early 80's may take the title for the earliest Dancehall tune. I cant pin down the exact date, but I have a blackstar soundclash from 83/84 in which he performs it, though the only release date I can find online is 1995 - That dont mean much as not a lot of Brigadier's early stuff got released at all...

King of the hill though is Jah Stitch with 'Raggamuffin' style, from sometime between 75+77 (assuming blood and fire are correct).

John Eden has found pretty much the only tune that mentions 'Ragga' outright, Terry Ganzies excellent effort on the Digitally Blend riddim, but 'Ragga House' by Daddy Freddy from 1990 deserves a mention as well, though he was UK based at the time so its all a bit blurry.


The story I heard was that back in the 80s, the black boxer Lloyd Honeyghan had 'Raggamuffin' written across the top of his shorts, and they got it from that. May be wrong though.


do you think the black atlantic comes into as well. shinehead had a track called raggamuffin in '88 which was a big hit, on digital b, raggamuffin seemed to encompass that little cross over with ja and hip hop, which was clear in the us and more so in the uk, especially in terms of dress sense etc.


Beast of Burden
the term came about pre digital revolution, around about the time junjo lawes productions, artists like yellowman and eek-a-mouse were ruling dances with tunes dismissed by foundational purists as stupid, non-educational and detrimental to the culture. it simply comes from a rougher, dumber (and you know by now that i use that word positively), slacker approach to the music and the corresponding style of the fans.


It's just another word for informal/illegal party, ala shebeen. there's a mention of it in relation to 50's/60's UK sound business in Ian Thomson's 'The Dead yard'.

john eden

male pale and stale
i need etymology:
  • bashment
  • shebeen
  • blues dance

not definitive:

"bashment" is from "bash" i.e. "event" or "do"
"shebeen" - from irish - illegal drinking den
"blues party" - errrrr can't remember the ins and outs of this one but "blues" as in the music, connected to early r 'n' b.


Shebeen = Sibín. Ive just asked a native Irish speaker what the original meaning was and he says its some kind of shack, possibly with an earthen roof, or a dwelling cut into the side of a hill. If it did come from patois (doubtful) its probably recycled Irish anyway.

Also - this from wiki:

In South Africa and Zimbabwe, Shebeens are most often located in black townships as an alternative to pubs and bars, where during apartheid and the Rhodesian era, black Africans could not enter a pub or bar reserved for white Africans.

Originally, shebeens were operated illegally, selling homebrewed alcohol and providing patrons with a gathering place where they could meet and discuss political and social issues. Often, patrons and owners were arrested by the police, though the shebeens were frequently reopened because of their importance in unifying the community and providing a safe place for discussion.[4] During the apartheid shebeens became a crucial place for activists to meet, some attracting lower class activists and community members, while others attracted lawyers, doctors and musicians.[5]

Seems to echo what the word has come to mean in the UK.