Since Beenie Man declared himself ‘King of the Dancehall’, a video showing him regally attired and on a throne – and setting off a flurry of support, criticism and counterclaims in the process – many a young gun has entered the dancehall arena. And, in the natural ebb and flow of an ultra-competitive arena, many an established artiste has seen their star lose its shine.
However, in the title of his next album project, due out in July, Beenie Man declares himself ‘King in Control’. He says apart from Rum and Red Bull and Go Go Club, the 17-track set is all previously unreleased songs. The MD Entertainment project is produced by himself and Mario Campbell.
With many of the songs as yet untitled, The WEEKEND STAR asks what are some of the themes that he covers on the set and Beenie Man immediately says “The girl them man! The girls them straight, 100 per cent.”
Beenie Man has celebrated 31 years in dancehall – more than many artistes prowling the stages, studios and sound systems in Jamaica have been alive. He is ultra-confident in his ‘kingship’, asking rhetorically “Yuh no see wha a gwaan man?”
“I would not have a hit now if there was a problem with the new youth them. I would not have a hit last year or the year before or the year before that. So there is no problem. I am still in control. There is no man want to work after me on a stage show, right now to date at this time.
All a de new yute them, none a them no waan work after me. Think bout that.”
He points to a key difference between himself and the newer set of performers. “None of these artistes are into the performance side of it. These artistes buss to make a money. Take care of them family, mother alright and buy a one house and balance up themself. ‘Cause them decide not to tief, decide not to be a murderer, an’ them no have the proper education to go look a corporate job,” he said.
“Me born fe do whe me a do, me never practice fe do it,” Beenie Man said. “I have never watched a man pon TV and say me haffi be like him. Is up to you to siddung and dream about what you want to be until you actually get up and do what you were made to do. This is me.”
The WEEKEND STAR asks Beenie Man who he sees as the prince and he lets out a breath. “Too many princes out there,” he says, laughing.
Faith in CDs
In an era where CD sales are down, Beenie Man is optimistic that ‘King in Control’ can buck the trend. “One day you can try to bring it back, don’t it?” he asked. “Lil Wayne them never know them woulda sell 10 million copy and bring back rap. Them make a choice and take a chance and it work. That me deh pon right now, take a chance. It mus’ work man.”
And he says he is not putting his faith in digital outlets as much as the CD. “If you drop everything in life – because vinyl drop, them out to drop CD, the man them a play sound with computer, all these things – what we gwine have fe balance inna life fe know we a come from yasso? You a guh look pon a CD an’ say ‘memba when we used to do dat?’ We haffi have something fe hol’ on pon like originally, really still,” Beenie Man said.
“If you drop everything you drop yourself and it make sense you sell out. It make sense you get the chip inna you hand and yuh no hafffi use no passport again. Anywhere you go you register,” he said.
“Computer nice and good, is the Internet, everybody use it. You can get all the information you want. Instead of going to pick out a book from the book store you can google it. Is a nice ting but it becomes lazy,” he said. “So instead of you go support the artiste physically, you rather go buy one of the song only for 99 cents (US).”