Dancehall, with its deep and influential history, has undeniably been a foundational pillar for many music genres that emerged after it. Afrobeats, although unique with its West African essence, bears evident marks of Dancehall rhythms and beats. Dancehall veteran Beenie Man recently shed light on this, asserting that Afrobeats’ evolution began with artists copying and patterning styles directly from Dancehall. Furthermore, he believes that Afrobeats has capitalized on Dancehall “in every way”.
Beenie Man, during his appearance on The Fix podcast, didn’t shy away from stating that Afrobeats has ridden the wave of Dancehall’s unique sound, taking it to international prominence. His assertion aims not just at pointing out musical similarities, but more critically, the need for acknowledgment and recognition.
The iconic artist emphasized Dancehall’s “underground” status, and how, despite being a significant influence, it often remains overlooked in the mainstream music narrative. “You see dancehall music has always been the underground music… dem tek we style and dem nah gi we no credit,” he lamented.
Ebro Darden’s recent commentary on the industry’s shift towards Afrobeats and Latin Music adds another dimension to the debate. Beenie Man feels that Dancehall, with its widespread influence, continues to be overshadowed. He noted instances like Rihanna’s “Work,” which, despite being deeply rooted in Dancehall, was labeled as tropical or house. The rebranding story continues with genres like Reggaeton, which borrowed from Dancehall and then redefined themselves.
Beenie Man remains unwavering in his belief about Dancehall’s enduring strength. He pointed out that Dancehall artists often enjoy a longer span of relevance than many pop artists. For him, the transient nature of pop stardom doesn’t match the lasting gravitas of Dancehall musicians.
In anticipation of his upcoming release, Beenie Man has announced his album “Simma,” which is set to drop on August 31. This project has been three years in the making, a journey influenced heavily by the painful loss of his mother during the pandemic. “When you and your mother a friend like me and my mother, you lose your best friend… when it comes to get back into your feeling and get back into yourself, get rid of depression, we go inna the studio and make some music,” he shared. Initially having 60-80 tracks, Beenie Man meticulously curated the final list of 19 songs, ensuring that each resonates with his fans.
Beenie Man remains optimistic and confident about the longevity and influence of Dancehall. As other genres rise and evolve, he stands firm in his assertion: “Dancehall music will always be here.” Regardless of the influences drawn and the ways it’s adapted, Dancehall remains the true source.