Billboard Magazine is facing backlash from Jamaican fans after they neglected to include Dancehall heavyweights Beenie Man and Bounty Killer in a digital cover for a story about the ‘Verzuz Effect’.
The omission was so obvious that Verzuz and the Dancehall veterans joined with dissenting fans on Twitter and Instagram in calling out the publication for the blunder.
The Verzuz series, which was started in March by producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, provides a platform for musical icons from various genres to square off, hit for hit live online. The May 23 battle between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer gave the series a significant facelift when they were the first to compete in the same space, in true Dancehall sound clash style. Verzuz has since hinted that they intend to return to the Caribbean for more battles given the success of the Dancehall battle.
Beenie Man and Bounty Killer’s Verzuz battle also topped a poll set up by Billboard in May, where the magazine’s readers were asked to choose their favorite showdown from the clash series up to that point. The Dancehall battle was voted the most favorite, with an astounding 45% of the votes. Scott and Eryka Badu followed in distant second place with 22%.
The Billboard cover story did acknowledge Beenie Man and Bounty Killer’s battle which set a new standard for the series, and they noted that “the soundclash, a reggae/dancehall tradition of live musical head-to-head competition that goes back to the 1950s, was an early precursor to the Verzuz format.”
The article illustrates how Verzuz has become a cultural phenomenon with the ability to “spark new interest” in Black artistes who compete on the platform. The ‘Verzuz Effect’ resulted in streams of Beenie Man and Bounty Killer’s music surging by several hundred percentage points after their battle.
The #Verzuz Effect: Why iconic artists — and Apple — are betting big on battles.
— billboard (@billboard) August 10, 2020
As co-founder of Verzuz, Swizz Beatz tweeted, “this would not have been possible without Beenie Man & Bounty Killer, who set a big tone for our audience and represented for Jamaica.”
Verzuz thanked Billboard for the feature but generated an alternate cover of their own that replaced Beatz and Timbaland with Beenie Man and Bounty Killer.
Swizz and Timbaland later jumped onto Instagram Live today to reiterate their respect for Beenie Man and Bounty, and to clarify that they had no knowledge of, or say in Billboard’s cover before it was published.
To our fans: While we are honored that #Verzuz made the cover of Billboard, this would not have been possible without Beenie Man & Bounty Killer, who set a big tone for our audience and represented for Jamaica 🇯🇲 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/JUowlQKKIQ
— Verzuz (@verzuzonline) August 10, 2020
The Poor People’s Governor, Bounty Killer, took to Instagram to voice his disgust with the illustration, which was created by Lyne Lucien for Billboard.
“Tell dutty @billboard mi gun dem still load cyaah go round over nor under,” he said in his “cross, angry and miserable” lyrical persona.
He also commented on Swizz Beatz’s alternate cover on Instagram: “F–k @billboard. They are groupies were they covering verzuz or had it on they cover B4 us did it plus which verzuz is being rewatched like ours?” in response to a fan who said the cover change needs to be made by Billboard and not by Beatz and Verzuz.
King of the Dancehall, Beenie Man, not to be left out, opted for Twitter instead. “I guess billboard is REALLY THAT GUY,” he said in one tweet in reference to his catchphrase, which sprung from their battle when two Jamaican cops briefly disrupted their live show.
“When will DANCEHALL get it’s recognition???? Nuh matter how the impact, no matter the hard work, no matter how powerful the music is, them still try it everytime them get a chance. Ah time now man. #FixUp “the Who Am I singer said.
He, however, expressed gratitude to Swizz Beatz and Timbaland for trying to correct the oversight, “Big up Swizz & Timz but this is what our genre face! Everybody fwd and tek piece and build up dem thing and then do everything to undermine the genre DANCEHALL where they got it from.”
Popular disc jock ZJ Sparks tried to get to the bottom of the matter, and pointedly asked the illustrator, “@lynelucien We Jamaicans have a question for you. When you submitted your Verzuz illustration to @billboard, did you submit one that had @KingBeenieMan and @grunggaadzilla included on the cover?”
There’s so far been no response from the illustrator or Billboard.
Fans, too, expressed their disgruntlement with the digital cover.
“Dear Billboard. Why wasn’t @kingbeenieman & @grunggaadzilla on this cover? That Verzuz changed the way how it is presented today. The battle culture is dancehall. This is a disrespect to the culture and reggae & dancehall,” asked oblessa on Instagram.
“Where is bounty killa and beenie man? They had the hottest versus on this thing. Not even a tag bro really?” said another user.