Less than a week after Swizz Beatz declared that Jamaicans will soon get their chance in the viral ‘Verzuz’ seat, dancehall giants Beenie Man and Bounty Killer were today confirmed the stars for the next online musical battle set for May 23.
The announcement was made on Verzuz’s Twitter page, and fans are already rolling out their mesh marinas, Clarks, Jamaica flags and lighters.
The online clash will be streamed from the Instagram pages of both artistes on Saturday at 8pm.
MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND 5/23 Bounty Killer vs @kingbeenieman Sound Clash edition You ready?!? #VERZUZ pic.twitter.com/JapV81UOsp
— Verzuz (@verzuzonline) May 20, 2020
Dancehall fans were in a frenzy after the announcement that the two legends, and masters of musical clashes will face off in what is expected to be an epic showdown.
“Anybody who ain’t wearing the mesh marina gotta get blocked,” said one user. “This is the one. I hope they wifi good,” said another user. “What makes this better for me is knowing that even though they had a misunderstanding in the past, they can still do something for the culture,” cemented another.
“This one is going to be tough but I’m gonna have to go with the 5-star general. Alliance!” sided one user. “Beenie got more mainstream hits but those who know, know,” said another.
Excited Jamaicans, though, seem to have only one concern, and that is internet connectivity. In preparation for Saturday’s 8pm EST battle, one can only hope that the dancehall giants do all their audio and internet checks to ensure a smooth match, and a good representation of ‘the 876’ in the ‘Verzuz’ series.
“Beenie Man please mek sure unno connection good cause mi ready!!!” one Jamaican said, while a compatriot noted: “Beenie Man, Unoo jus mek sure di wifi work… full bars.. mek sure nobody else deh pon it while yuh a play.. This is history right here!!”
Celebrities showed their excitement too, from Lil Jon, Ding Dong and Beenie Man himself hitting the comments with fire emojis, to rapper Busta Rhymes typing “WOOOOOOOOW!!!!” and producer Rvssian commenting, “Crazyyyy.”
This weekend’s showdown is labelled the sound clash edition, and is being put together through the efforts of ‘Verzuz’ founders Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, and Jamaica’s perennial music connector, Sharon Burke.
Swizz Beatz and Timbaland
The online tune-for-tune battle started out on a dull quarantine evening with Beatz and Timbaland, and has since evolved into a cultural force, bridging the gaps among musical generations while highlighting the work of some of the biggest names in hip hop, RnB, rap and now dancehall.
The Verzuz TV platform enables top-notch artistes, producers, singers and songwriters to clash musically, hit for hit live on Instagram. The digital wars have grown in popularity and sees participants streaming from their homes on Instagram Live. However, only artistes with a catalogue of at least 20 songs that are considered hits are allowed to participate.
While rappers Ludacris and Nelly hosted the last match, it is the battles of T-Pain versus Lil Jon, Babyface versus Teddy Riley and Erykah Badu versus Jill Scott which have stood out the most while shattering online views.
But the battles have not all gone smoothly. Unreliable internet connection has plagued some battles, most notoriously Teddy Riley’s, which resulted in unsparing memes and a rescheduling of his match-up with Babyface. There’s also the history of microphone feedback, low volumes, and even too much talking when virtual attendees just want to hear some music.
Beenie Man, Bounty Killer (left to right)
Both Beenie Man and Bounty Killer have amassed enviable catalogues since rising to popularity in the early 90s, but it goes without saying that their styles are different.
They have the dubious distinction of having the longest-lasting rivalry in the history of dancehall. Both men, who hail from Kingston’s inner-city, stamped their dominance on the local music scene in 1993 when they clashed as mere youths, in what was perhaps the most memorable and exciting lyrical clash in Jamaica. That legendary clash, was followed by seemingly endless bouts of musical attacks and counteractions, which in some cases, saw a polarization of dancehall.
That clash also propelled the two to dancehall icon status and international stardom, as they matured.
In 2006 when Beenie Man got involved with, and later married Bounty Killa’s ex-girlfriend Michelle ‘D’Angel’ Downer, vitriolic words were exchanged between the two, but that was as far as the rivalry between the two men went. Now in their mid-40s, the two have reconciled and have become friends.
Though Bounty started his career reflecting the grimy lyrics permeating the dancehall at the turn of 1990s, he dabbled in dancehall fusion, even recording the hip hop-laced albums My Xperience(1996) and Next Millennium in 1998. Among his crossover notables areHey Baby, a track by No Doubt, It’s A Party (featuring Free, Nona Hendrix and Cocoa Brovaz), Hip-Hopera (featuring The Fugees) and Deadly Zone with Mobb Deep and Big Noyd. His classics extend to Look Into My Eyes, Sufferer, It’s Ok, Can’t Believe Mi Eyes, Anytime and Fed Up.
The self-proclaimed king of dancehall, Beenie Man, has a contendable career of his own, securing hits from every category you can think of, from party bops (World Dance, Row Like A Boat, Rum & Redbull), female favourites (Hmmm Hmmm, Who Am I, Dude) to other notables like King of the Dancehall, Romie and Street Life. He also has a pop resume, with Girls Dem Sugar featuring Mya and Feel it Boy with Janet Jackson.
At Reggae Sumfest 2019, the two put on an intense, but brotherly clash, as anticipated, but were well relaxed and joked with each other, showing they had grown from boys to men. In April, they performed together live at Digicel’s Unplugged concert to celebrate the company’s 19 years in operation.
Which team will you be on this Saturday?