Jamaica Gleaner - - YL:EN­TER­TAIN­MENT -

De­spite the push dance­hall mu­sic re­ceived in the early ’90s to 2000s from veter­ans like Shabba Ranks, Bee­nie Man, Bounty Killer, and more re­cently, Sean Paul, younger dance­hall artistes have been strug­gling to con­sis­tently de­liver in the over­seas mar­ket and are be­ing side­lined by in­ter­na­tional acts such as Ri­hanna, Drake and Justin Bieber, whose mu­sic has cre­ated a re­cent surge of in­ter­est in the genre.

“I think peo­ple can’t un­der­stand what dem (lo­cal dee­jays) a seh. When me seh ‘oh nah nah nah nah nah it’s all about Romie’ we were look­ing for a wider au­di­ence, be­cause if you no­tice that ev­ery Amer­i­can song that makes it is al­ways a sin­ga­long song. Peo­ple nah sing nuh more, them up in a dem nose – whose [voice] can go higher. Their mu­sic is not real, it be­comes fake, like how some man live them life.

“Ja­maica need fi be­lieve in the veter­ans – not the ones weh leave and gone a for­eign – but the ones that deh a Ja­maica and still a mek hit songs; just be­lieve in us, man. ’Cause this is the rea­son why we still tour­ing, this is the rea­son why the world wants to see us, be­cause we have the au­then­tic­ity of Ja­maica, we have the au­then­tic­ity of dance­hall mu­sic. We are the ones bring­ing au­then­tic­ity to the world, but ev­ery time we seh that peo­ple seh, ‘Who? Him a gwan like a him alone,’ but check it, how much a di new artiste dem get booed, how much place dem go a for­eign and get bot­tled? You nuh hear dem tings deh bout we, man.”

Bee­nie Man added, “Dem nah learn, dem need fi learn. You cah go a for­eign with two or three songs and seh you a di star. When me have three songs mi throw weh mi pass­port, mi hide it un­der mi bed be­caue mi nuh re­ally ready fi go for­eign yet.

“These are the things, these artistes don’t work on cat­a­logues, them just sing some songs that sound good and then it hit fi ‘bout three months, and then a next four months, then dem seh dem a di bad­dest ting. Whap­pen in a di next 10 years? Tear Off Mi Gar­ment a 21 years old, look pon dat, and Drake come back and come remix it the other day you have to mek mu­sic that will last,” he said.

The 43-year-old crowd-pleaser is known for de­liv­er­ing long, en­er­getic sets, com­ple­mented by his sig­na­ture vo­cal em­bel­lish­ments and slick dance moves. De­spite his abil­ity to still pack venues and close shows, many be­lieve that it’s time for the Old Dog dee­jay to step aside and al­low the younger artistes to shine. The king, how­ever, isn’t quite ready to re­lin­quish his crown.

“This is what we (Ja­maicans) do, when the greats come out and do great things, we put down the greats when we sup­posed to sup­port Ja­maica at all times. Bee­nie Man has been here for 26 years (pro­fes­sional ca­reer) on top of his game. Been in mu­sic for 38 years and dem seh me deh yah too long. When you get rid of me, weh unuh a go do? There’s no other me, mi nuh see him yet. You just have to hang in there.”

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