Dancehall has erupted into a series of battles between different factions as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers around the world. Veterans have taken up arms and the title of King of Dancehall has once again been made the most coveted prize.
One veteran who has been sucked into a war for the title is Beenie Man, who was recently called out by another Dancehall veteran Vybz Kartel at the prodding of a fan in the comments section. Beenie would later diffuse the situation by offering his blessings to Kartel in an Instagram photo featuring the two deejays together.
There’s no need for that type of hostility in Dancehall right now Beenie said as he was interviewed by Winford Williams on OnStage. He said while he can’t speak for the youth in the industry, he believes that the pandemic is just too serious and claiming way too many lives for artistes to find time to have wars.
“The pandemic is wicked. Me nah understand where man fine time fee war with each other. Me nah get it but artiste ah artiste yuh know. Them do what dem wah do,” he said. He added that maybe some artistes are trying to stay relevant or maybe even to exert their dominance at this time.
He went on to say that if he was warring any artiste at this time he would have stopped because he believes too many people need help. “We need to put ourselves together and put our strengths together so that we can give people strength.”
Beenie admitted he wasn’t even sure who was engaged in battle. “Me doh even know who ah war. Cause first of all me say was Jahmiel versus some man deh. Then a next man join the war and a next man join the war and then a next man join the war.”
Beenie lamented the fact that other genres around the world, like Hip Hop, have put down their feuds as they try to assist people who have been negatively affected by the pandemic. He said this time should be about family.
He mentioned the fact that a veteran of Dancehall, like Mr. Chicken, who recently passed away, was not even mourned by artistes in the way that he should have been. He described him as family and the lack of attention surrounding his death showed the state of Dancehall. He added that it shows a lack of compassion when what is needed now is artistes of Dancehall banding together and showing solidarity with the many affected people.
“It don’t make no sense what the artistes them a do. It make sense to them and it make sense to people who don’t care because it have people that don’t care.”
He also said the wars right now just don’t make any sense because they are all fought online to different beats and so it’s difficult to have a winner. He said the last real war was between Mavado and Vybz Kartel and that was actually fought in the Dancehalls where fans could rate the music and decide on an outcome. Beenie also questioned why artistes are so angry with one another.
“That man eh steal nothing from yuh, it’s not like that man ah stop your career or dat man ah stop you from reach where you want to reach.”
The veteran singer spoke about his own experience with wars including when he went up against Bounty Killer and Capleton and said at that time there was some reasoning behind it but he feels that nowadays the wars are between youth who don’t know themselves. He added that when it reached a boiling point they would step back and the altercations would never become physical.
The disrespect that is now meted out to him and other veteran artistes by younger ones is also cause for concern because he believes it’s tarnishing the name of Dancehall. This may stem from the fact that some youth in Dancehall don’t know their history. For example how Jamaica came together after Hurricane Gilbert passed over the island leaving a trail of destruction in 1988.
Before Gilbert, there was upheaval in Jamaica and even political hatred ended as people got together to help each other out. It’s because they don’t understand these kinds of situations that they are only obsessed with getting likes and views, he continued.
He made sure to emphasise that he understands that artistes would spar but does not believe that it needs to be as violent as it has become. He questioned: “What is the war about.” It should be about lyrical content and not about harming each other for dominance.
Singer J and Beenie Man
Beenie premiered his video for a new song which he hopes will inspire people during this chaotic time. The song is called Hands Up and features Singer J & Troublemekka.
“Me just wish all the artistes and dem who ah war right now just look into themselves because everyman a big man, everyman have youth you know. Like seriously look into yourself and see what you want your youth listen to now.”
Having lived through many disaster times, Beenie said Dancehall artistes should focus on music that is inspirational and said he admired Dexta Daps who was recently released from prison and dropped his song Breaking News which was entertaining. This is positive because at this time people need to dance, he went on to say.
“As far as I see it, it come down to responsibility. All who know better do better brethren.”
Watch the full inteview below.