Jamaica and dancehall won

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Entertainment

Jamaica and dancehall won

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 25, 2020

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The overwhelming feeling is that Jamaica and dancehall were the winners of Saturday night's musical clash between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer as part of the Verzuz series created by American music producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz.

For publicist Ronnie Tomlinson Saturday's showcase reminded her of why she fell in love with dancehall.

“It was truly epic. We tend to hear or see the word epic often, and the definition says grand/big production. Well last night was epic in the sense of the showmanship both legends presented to the world from start to finish. With nearly 500,000 views on IG [ Instagram] that means our culture holds a staple in the hearts of many. Something majority of reggae music and dancehall music lovers already know. Our artistes travel the globe and perform in front of thousands all the time. But what Verzuz showed us is we have to show up for each other.”

Tomlinson voted for dancehall as the winner, and pinpointed one of her favourite moments as when both artistes performed on the same rhythm.

“Each time they did that was just an instant forward from me. I also loved seeing the various influencers, media, and artistes we love, listen to and admire show their enjoyment in the comment section,” she shared.

Music producer Mikey Bennett was another who totally enjoyed the offering, and was thoroughly entertained, but the performance left him with lingering questions about the state of the music.

“It was wonderful; these two guys showed that they are stars in every sense of the word. However, the high level of this performance left me thinking of a possible part two, but questioning who could be the acts. I was left with the stark reality that dancehall music requires star power.”

“Saturday night was successful and entertaining because certain elements were at play. Both Beenie Man and Bounty Killer were able to bring their loyal fans, play from an extensive catalogue, and they both have established personalities... persons want to be like them. So what we need to take away from this experience is the fact that the music does not have enough stars. We have to make a few more as the numbers showed that there is an appetite for our music, and we have to live up to that demand. Saturday night the bar was set so high by these two that it will be hard to find anyone right now who can measure up,” said Bennett.

As for a winner, he gave the nod to Bounty Killer, pointing to the deejay's ability to entertain with sharp one-liners.

Radio jock Richie B was proud to count himself among the near half a million who watched every moment of the matchup, and had a string of adjectives to describe the experience.

“It was awesome, incredible, amazing, iconic, phenomenal, and classic...all combined. The two artistes selected, are two of our foremost lyricists, and their presentation, again, demonstrated the deep rivalry that existed between them as their careers developed. On Verzuz, they took Jamaica's music, culture, vibes, energy on their backs and delivered it to the world.”

Richie B commended both artistes for their maturity, in being able to put differences and grudges aside, and he hoped that this will help both acts to be able to spread the music farther via tours and performances.

“I really hope that the powers that be will do all they can to assist these stalwarts to regain their ability to travel to all parts of the world...including the USA...so that our music and culture will benefit even more from these great talents,” said Richie B.

Romeich Major of Romeich Entertainment was pleased with what both acts presented on the Verzuz platform. The viewership numbers for him was a signal.

“Bounty Killer and Beenie Man are two of the greatest ever in dancehall. They are all-rounders. The world knows them as they have done so many songs that have done well internationally as well as those which have had an impact here on the ground.

“They also broke records. I know millions of people saw that clash, and it is still circulating. You have to understand Instagram. It is going to say nearly 500,000 people at the same time. But for the entire night I guarantee more than two, three, four million people watched that clash, not at the same time but on and off, so that's a big boost for Jamaica itself and dancehall. The world was watching and the international artistes are wondering how our artistes can be so versatile and can sing and freestyle on any rhythm. That's because dancehall artistes are the greatest and the best. We do so much greatness [but] we just don't market it and get people to market we; we just get people to buy out di ting. But that clash was a big look, “ said Major

He too gave the nod to Jamaica based on the publicity received.

UK-based radio broadcaster Robbo Ranx was also inspired by what he saw and heard on Saturday. For him the whole concept of Verzuz pays homage to Jamaica and the clash culture which has been such an important part of local popular music for years.

The banter between the acts in-between tracks was among his favourite moments.

“The response from each other's sharp wit is what you call artistic timing and intelligence. It was how they responded to each other. So for me, every time they had exchanges in-between the music, those were the magic moments. Even now the vloggers and the YouTubers and the Instagram activists are going to be making light of a lot of what happened, and its going to be great entertainment,” he shared.

There were three winners of the clash for Robbo Ranx. He picked both artistes as well as the audience as having come away with the prize.

For years Clyde McKenzie was part of the management team which worked with Beenie Man. So Saturday's event brought back a lot of memories for this music industry insider.

“It was a big night for Jamaica's culture, Jamaica's music, and dancehall. When we speak of our music and its impact we tend to concentrate on the current crop not realising that there is a market for the nostalgic. This is something we do at our peril. What this clash showed us is that Jamaican music is consumed differently from other popular genres. You cant judge our artistes' popularity based on sales. This show should help us understand and appreciate the value of two acts like Bounty Killer and Beenie Man,” said McKenzie.

He too saw Jamaica as being the big winner.

“It would be imprudent of me to name anyone winner. I was so proud of both these artistes and what they put out there for the world to see that I have to say we are all winners. It has opened our eyes to the possibilities that lie in dancehall. The Buju concert last year was one and now this. It is time for a more structured approach to the development of the music, because we have already made a name for ourselves, it's now up to us to capitalise,” he added.


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