American rapper Saweetie is coming under fire for what some members of the Jamaican music fraternity and even some of her own nationals, for copying Dancehall fashion pioneered by Dancehall Queen Carlene, without crediting the country of origin.
In a series of three posts, music producer and radio disc jockey, ZJ Sparks highlighted the ‘offence’, juxtaposing two images of Carlene clad in her skimpy attire in her heydays with the Dancehall-inspired get-up worn by Saweetie which the rapper had posted on her Instagram page a few days ago.
“Yuh dun know, Jamaica Jamaica!! #876 #Jamaicanculture #dancehall,’ she captioned one of the photos, while hailing Carlene on the other.
To provide further evidence that Saweetie was a copycat, Sparks posted a clip from Beenieman and Chevelle Franklin’s 1994 Dancehall Queen music video, which served as the soundtrack for the music-influenced movie of the same name.
“#TBT big up wi Dancehall Queens and dancers who set the trend. Taken from iconic 1997 iconic film Dancehall Queen. Directors: Rick Elgood, Don Letts. Producers: Carl Bradshaw, Carolyn Pfeiffer. Screenplay: Don Letts, Suzanne Fenn, Ed Wallace,” she wrote.
Jada Kingston was one of the Jamaican stars who also took exception to the music genre and the island not being credited by the High Maintenance artiste.
“Coincidence dem seh …neva wa giwi credit yet,” Jada said.
Saweetie, who is the girlfriend of rapper Quavo, is said to be inspired by Lil’ Kim. She broke onto the music scent with her gold-certified 2017 single Icy Girl and two years later scored a Top 40 pop hit with My Type.
The subject whose style Saweetie is accused of stealing is Carlene Smith, popularly referred to as Dancehall Queen Carlene.
Carlene was crowned Dancehall Queen in 1992 after entering a series of eight fashion clash stage shows, and also had a long-term relationship with deejay Beenie Man, becoming Dancehall’s hottest couple.
Carlene became a huge, much-sought-after celebrity in her heydays, gaining contracts to endorse various products and companies and Jamaica’s first locally-branded condoms named Slam. She appeared in a number of music videos such as Beenie Man’s ‘Nuff Gal, Chaka Demus, Pliers’ ‘Murder She Wrote’ and Admiral Bailey’s ‘Butterfly’ for which she said she was heftily paid.
In raining on Saweetie’s parade other Jamaicans like tamara.barrett noted on ZJ Sparks’ IG page that the Americans were trying to ‘pull a fast one’.
“Anuh dat man, they thought it was in the past so we forgot. But we as a nation always recycling our fashion #ourcultureourpride…….we soon c alot more popping up,” she said.
“And she probably think the designer came up with this idea… probably has no clue about the history of dancehall or anything or how hip hop was highly influenced by it,” another annoyed Jamaican said while reenaaxoxo declared: “Long time wi a duh di tings dem and dem a gwaan like a dem invent it…. Jamaica patent that thang they call twerking.”
Over on the website, Lipstick Alley the concerns about lack of originality and lack of acknowledgement of Jamaicans was also vented with one commenter posting a screenshot of Jamaican actress Audrey Reid clad in a suit which appeared to be the one copied by Saweetie.
“Lol why did she remind me of Marcia from Dancehall queen?“ the commenter, trillataste said, while another added: “Yes a lot of these new rap girls take inspiration from the Dancehall Queens of the 90’s.”
Other commenters said they really hoped Saweetie paid homage to Jamaica, while another stated flatly that: “Saweetie just REFUSES to be original”.
“This whole generation is COPYING looks from the 90s… nothing is original with them,” another commenter, Nouraj said.
However, it is likely that Saweetie was emulating the dress of her idol Lil’ Kim and not Carlene.