Reasoning with Beenie Man: “The music is Jamaican; the problem is, America can make it too.”

The Doctor Talks Drake, Popcaan & Kartel

“Drake from Canada—Beenie Man from Jamaica—dah one yah a murda! Zagga.” When Drake’s album Views dropped at the end of April, Popcaan fans were surprised to hear a new voice on “Controlla”—a vintage Beenie Man sample appeared where Popcaan’s lyrics used to be. With Drake’s album topping the charts and breaking sales records this was obviously a big deal, and it set off all sorts of debates about why the 6 God made that move—and whether he truly respected reggae and dancehall or was just tapping into the flavor of the moment. But Beenie Man is not bothered. Having collabed with the likes of Wyclef and Janet Jackson the Grammy-winning DJ who dropped the single “King of the Dancehall” back in 2004 is taking the whole situation in stride and focusing on his new album Unstoppable, which features collabs with Sean Paul and Busta Rhymes among others. We caught up with Beenie near the end of his European tour to talk about Drake, Popcaan and his thoughts about Vybz Kartel’s new album title. (In case you missed the memo, Kartel’s dropping an album tomorrow provocatively titled King of the Dancehall.) “The name of an album and the name of a person different,” said Bounty Killer during a recent appearance On Stage. “But me know say it provoking still. Him provoke Beenie fe true, just like when Beenie Man say him ah de king, him did provoke Yellow Man. And tell you what: is not one king. You have the king of all kings, but there are several kings. Kings come down different generations. So I guess Kartel is trying to say that him ah the king of this generation.” Pressed on the point Killer admitted that his former protege Kartel (who he’s definitely had some issues with over the years) is now ruling the dancehal. “He is the king of this generation, you can’t deny that. Weh you ah go do, fight it? For the last ten years, ah him. Me can’t say nuttin’—him ah de young king deh. If him wan’ piece of the king ting—him can hold on pon the young king. He’s not no prince anymore, after a decade. I’m not being biased. Him a young king, mon.” Let’s see what Beenie has to say about that. Interview After The Jump…
Doctor, wha gwan?

Where you at Rob?

I’m in New York. How’s Europe?

Europe nice, man. Europe wicked wicked wicked.

The whole world is requesting dancehall right now, and now you’re on this Drake tune.

Yes, God.

How did that all go down? Can you share with us…?

Well it never really go down yunno. Remember the song “Tear Off Me Garments” them sample.

But you give them an intro right?

Yeah me give them a outro, cause them send fe it. You see, from them ah go use the song,  you fe actually sign the release paper. So when me actually sign the paper now them really realize say them getting it, so them call me forward and say them need an intro. So that’s how that happened.

How do you see this whole wave of international dancehall fever right now?

Well, it’s not the first it ah happen.

I know, you’ve been through a few of these.

[Laughs] Yeah, from foundation it been happening, from back in the days. Now is just the time that the young artists them caught up on what really ah gwan. Notice weh dem ah use… Dem ah use the old tunes weh inna fi dem days them a baby.

They love the vintage thing.

Yeah them love the vintage. And I think true “Tear Off Me Garments” did inna Dancehall Queen and it the girl dem ah dance to. So it’s kinda ah international movie, and international music. People know it all over the world. So if you ah sample a song, you ah choose that. So me really appreci-love that. Yeah.

No doubt. Are you getting a lot of calls from any other people to do work?

One million people. You nuh know? Ah so it go man. From one person start, the next person ah go want. Yeah man.

I can imagine. Is there anything you can speak about at this time?

No, not right now, caw now me deh pon tour, don’t it? So right now ah just me album me ah work pon, finish it to release it next month, so ah that me deh pon.

Tell us about the album.

The album is called Unstoppable—dun know that’s the name of it. Me have a couple combination on it, like me Sizzla and Assassin. Me, Busta Rhymes & Sean Paul. Me have a few things pon it. The album bad mon. And it’s dancehall and reggae.

The real authentic dancehall.

Yeah, it’s real foundation. I’m the king so what am I gonna do? Sing a hip-hop album?

Do you feel like the international attention is helping the local scene? Is the local scene getting a boost from all of this excitement?

Well the music is Jamaican you know. The problem is, America can make it too. You see? It get a boost because the music is Jamaican. Bus it’s just for us to really take it to the next level where it’s supposed to be at.

Remember from Shabba Ranking them days, dis ah wah gwan—the International artists ah work with the Jamaican artists them. Now it’s our time to take that love that they’ve been showing us all these times and just take it to another level. But we have to organize. Cause if we nah organize we nah centralize.

Well you’ve been doing this for a long while now…

Yeah, well I’ve been a star for 24 years. I’ve been doing music for what? 30-odd years.

So you understand how to approach the business.

Yeah man, me different from everyone else. Some people no used to it will disrespect it and have it as usury. But it’s not usury. It’s show your respect for your work. And I really appreci-love that.

I’m sure you’ve seen all the discussion online, like Mr. Vegas talking about Drake.

Fi him business that, man. I think Mr. Vegas vex that them never use “Heads High” or one of him song yah. Caw if them did use that, he wouldn’t say these things.

Do you think Popcaan is hurt that he got taken off “Controlla”?

Popcaan still deh pon the album. [Laughs] They just take him offa the song but him still deh pon the album.

Did you ever speak with him about it?

No, nah really. It never necessary for me and him talk about it. Him know the reason why them take him offa the song. The song leaked. The song deh everywhere ah play a month before the album released.

Is that really why? OVO never gave an official reason.

Ah so people stay, them just say “Ooh, them take the man off the song.” The song leaked. The song deh a Jamaica ah play pon the radio long before Drake album release. I think you can go pon Youtube go find the Popcaan version. That’s how long it release.

There’s so many different people making dancehall tracks. I just wanna hear some Jamaican dancehall come through on the radio.

Weh you ah deal with? My album me ah work pon. Me ah work pon my single to drop middle of the month so me can release the album next month.

That’s what’s up.

Yeah, that’s what’s up.


Did you hear the title of the new Kartel album?

Eh? [Long silence]

I know you heard the title, King of the Dancehall.

Yeah man, a title is a title.

So how you see this king thing overall? We know you as the King of the Dancehall for a long time now.

Mm-hmm. [Pause.] My lord… Me deh ya. Me ah work for the people them. Me ah make an album for the people them. I am crowned King of the Dancehall, so from man wan’ use the name now is just the name. You see it? The title ah mine.

And it’s about the works at the end of the day.

Yeah, it’s about who working. Who actually ah go somewhere to do something for the music. Who actually ah push the music in the right position where it’s supposed to be. You can book me tomorrow, don’t it?

For real, for real.

You can come on stage show and see me tomorrow, don’t it?

That’s right.

Yeah, that’s how me see the king. The king can move out there and talk to him people and perform for the people them. So me no inna the careless argument. A carelessness…

So where’s the next show for you?

Me just finish over Europe now, me go St. Vincent. A couple more place then back home to finish the album.

Let us know when the album ready to roll out, cause Boomshots needs to shine a light on that.

We need to talk proper, cause right now we in between time zones.

OK well give thanks for taking a minute this morning.

All right Rob. Don’t say nuttin. Respect and manners. Hear sah?

Backstage at BET with Beenie Man

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3 Responses

  1. Richard N. says:

    Beenie Man kas ever been and will always be the best! King Of The Dancehall his best song ever.

  2. cakesoap says:

    fooolishness vybz kartel is a bettr artist than betweenie man everybody knws that

  3. Welcome the King of the Dancehall. No debate. Once a King, always a King.
    – The Black Queen from 2017

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