Murda She Wrote: Beenie Man, Konshens, Tarrus Riley, Aidonia x Govanna
The best real dancehall music right now
As the late great Dennis Brown often said, “Love and Hate can never be friends.” These are wise words to remember as we approach the holidays, an emotional time when our nearest and dearest come together to reflect on the year just passed and look forward to the year ahead. No wonder this season can bring out some rifts between us all; pent up energy and stress gets released when simple home truths just need to be said. For the longest time Jamaica has seen in the new year with a massive Boxing Day stage show called Sting, which usually featured clashes amongst some of the biggest artists in dancehall. Sting served as both a championship bout for annual bragging rights—Shabba vs Ninja, Beenie vs Bounty, Mavado vs Kartel, Saw vs, Macka—and a chance to let off steam in a good old-fashioned lyrical war. But last year, for the first time in a few decades, the show did not go on—with no sign of returning. Instead free stage shows like Ghetto Splash have resurged to unite the downtown communities with big acts coming through to share the stage and perform for the people. In that spirit, this month has songs designed for the lovers, the haters, the hot-heads and the peacemakers. Run it…
Beenie Man “Real Yutes”
Beenie is definitely a hit with the ladies. His deep catalog of “gyal tunes”—from “Wickedest Slam” to “Who Am I”—has earned him the title “The Girls Dem Sugar.” And as they often say in Jamaica, where the girls them go, the thugs will follow. Although he caters for his female fans at all times, don’t get it twisted—the youth born Moses Davis has his badman credentials as well. Raised in Waterhouse, Beenie put in decades of work before crowning himself in 2004 with the release of “King of the Dancehall,” and if he’s not touring the world you can find him on any given night chilling at street dances all over Kingston, surveying his kingdom.
“The king can move out there and talk to him people and perform for the people them,” says Beenie. Being present at dances has been a tradition in Jamaica ever since the inception of dancehall. And while the industry has changed a lot over the past half century, a sound system dance is still the best place to hear the hottest tracks, check the latest dance moves, and feel who is hot on the streets. However, it seems that some newer generation artists are moving differently in the social media era. Posing up on the Gram has become the trend instead of posting up in the dance—and the king has something to say about it on his latest tune, “Real Yute.” Something or someone has rubbed this king up the wrong way and Beenie doesn’t hold back on calling out the fakes. “Some boy dem ah vampire, sit down and watch Empire and ah tell man them ah don outta street,” Moses spits. In true King fashion, Beenie lays down the law (over Suku’s stripped-down Law Riddim) and if he doesn’t like something he is going to let you know exactly how he’s feeling. Wonder who he means when he says, “Tattoo pon eye and tattoo pon teet… show how much gun and drink the most rum / likkle more them get caught by police.” Ouch!
As Beenie told me recently, “You know how much people in this business don’t like people for no reason whatsoever? It happens every day.” He also mentioned that “Reality cannot die. That’s how it is. Reality cannot die. That’s why we will always be there.” One thing’s for sure: as the holidays approach and more dances pop up around the Island Beenie will be there enjoying the fun. “Love is the reward,” he says. As for those social media stars? “You nah see them again. I think some people are ghost,” Beenie says. “Them fraid ah people.”