From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The style is characterized by a deejay singing and rapping or toasting over raw and danceable music riddims. The rhythm in dancehall is much faster than in reggae, sometimes with drum machines replacing acoustic sets . In the early years of dancehall, some found its lyrics crude and bawdy ("slack"), particularly because of its sexual tones, popular among youths in Jamaica. Like its reggae predecessor it eventually made inroads onto the world music scene.
This deejay-led, largely synthesized speechifying with musical accompaniment departed from traditional conceptions of Jamaican popular musical entertainment. Dub poet Mutabaruka maintained, "if 1970s reggae was red, green and gold, then in the next decade it was gold chains". It was far removed from its gentle roots and culture, and there was furious debate as to whether it ought to be considered some sort of extension of reggae music.