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Notting Hill Carnival: Your ultimate pre-party playlist


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Notting Hill Carnival has arrived once again. Dig out your leftover festival glitter, start mixing that pokey rum punch and stretch your bladder in preparation for a Bank Holiday filled with raucous rhythms. 

Notting Hill Carnival 2017 by Caitlin Clark

Why should I bother battling the crowds for a few hours of noise and drunken Londoners, I hear you ask? Well, if you want to get stuck into the very best, most vibrant and colourful celebration of Caribbean culture, then that's why. An incredible line-up of dancehall, afro bashment and afrobeats is headed up by none other than our main man Popcaan, while delicious food stalls, floats and bars continue the celebrations long into the late summer evening. 

Warm up for a weekend of debauchery with the perfect pre-Carni playlist, handpicked by our Music Editor. 

I Like It - Cardi B, Bad Bunny & J Balvin

What better way to kick of a Saturday night than with Cardi B's modern spin on the classic boogaloo bonanza 'I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Asi)' from Pete Rodriguez. Cardi's righteous flow bounces perfectly with a remix bursting with bubbling bass and Latino flavour.

Bam Bam - Sister Nancy

Mama Nancy is the mother we all wish we knew and had. Originally released back in '82, Nancy's silky, echoing vocals sit above a quintessential reggae beat which has (and will continue to) stand the test of time. I defy you not to get your groove on. 

Lean & Bop - J Hus

'Lean & Bop', in my eyes, will forever be the canonical J Hus song. Its undulating rhythm is completely infectious, with Hus' rich, tonal vocals adding that little extra danceable vibe. Plus, honestly, what really is Carnival without J Hus? 

Dance For Me - Eugy, Mr Eazi

Ghanaian-born Londoner Eugy never disappoints his afro-dancehall fans. The track's visuals embody all there is to love about Carnival: crazy, colourful costumes, sparkles and feathers, and of course, synchronised dancing. Stick the video on your big screen before hitting the streets of Notting Hill for a dose of pre-party energy. 

Gallardo - Runtown ft. DaVido

I shouldn't have to justify why DaVido features on this playlist, in all honesty, but 'Gallardo' wins precious pop points here. Fast-paced vocals are threaded through sprawling rhythms and percussive loops, making for a sexy, hip-shaking single.

Naughty Ride - WizKid ft. Major Lazer

'Pon De Floor' is so last year. 28-year-old Nigerian prodigy WizKid has taken over the winning spot for ass-bopping track of the year with 'Naughty Ride'. A slower tempo that some of his other dancehall contemporaries, but just as perfect for getting down and dirty. 

My Woman My Everything (Remix) - Patoranking ft. Wande Coal, Busy Signal, Machel Montano

A timeless dance track has its status elevated with the addition of soca sensation Machel Montano and our eternal dancehall saviour Busy Signal. Blast the very best Afro-Caribbean link-up to get you in the mood for Carni chaos. 

Work - Rihanna ft. Drake

Don't lie to yourself, you'll never get tired of wining and grinding to 'Work'. No pre-Carnival playlist is truly complete without Rihanna's sensationally sexual lyricism layered lavishly atop a soft, electro beat and subtle steel drums. 

Turn Me On - Kevin Lyttle

Can you believe Kevin Lyttle dropped 'Turn Me On' in 2002? After graduating from SOAS last year and attending one too many dancehall nights in the student bar, I sort of can, but I'd be damned if I didn't let loose every time I heard this on a pre-party mix. Lyttle's lyrics are the star of the show, supported by a contagious soca beat and subtle R&B samples. 

Murder She Wrote - Chaka Demus & Pliers

Sampled by the likes of Omarion, Nicki Minaj, Cutty Ranks and remixed to death by wannabe dancehall DJs in Dalston Superstore, 'Murder She Wrote' is arguably one of the most played reggae/dancehall tracks in musical history. Boasting a beat that birthed Reggaeton, 'Murder She Wrote' is unforcedly simple in its rhythmic production and the perfect singalong before a night out in Notting Hill.

Johnny - Yemi Alade

Named as the most viewed Nigerian music video on YouTube in 2017, Yemi Alade has the secret recipe for the perfect Afrobeat. By blending traditional African instrumentals with modern electronics, 'Johnny' is impossible not to dance to. Blast this one loud and proud for all the girls in the back. 

Oliver Twist - D'Banj

Nigerian heavyweight D'Banj has been gracing the dancefloors alongside Fuse ODG and WizKid since the dawn of time. 'Oliver Twist' opened the doors for Afrobeats' global takeover back in 2012, with saucy harmonies, a thick bassline and rick-rolling rhythms. 

Personally - P-Square

Citing the King of Pop as one of his many inspirations (just check out those Thriller-esque visuals), P-Square gives us a drum-heavy beat interjected by popping synths to really get down to. 'Personally' is a canonical dancehall track, and no Carnival playlist would be complete without it. 

Kontraband - Kabaka Pyramid ft. Damian Marley

Kabaka Pyramid is a pioneer of genre fusion. A clever concoction of reggae and hip-hop featuring guest verses from Damian Marley; I'm betting 'Kontraband' will become a new siren call for Notting Hill's most bedazzled movers and shakers. 

Amarulah - Roberto

Zambian heartthrob Roberto has his early inspiration firmly rooted in Gospel music but took to dancehall like a fish to water. 'Amarulah' uses a steady clapping beat to ramp up the dance factor, making it the ultimate playlist finisher. Pop this on for a final blowout before stepping into the colourful Carnival streets.

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