Several lyrical battles post Beenie Man Verzuz Bounty Killer, and it has been declared that the title of 'Best Battle' (thus far) can be awarded to the Jamaican dancehall-reggae stars. Both delivered a unique and stellar performance in their face-off for Verzuz which was the quarantined brainchild of award-winning producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz.
Though the writing was already on the wall, American entertainment media and charting giant Billboard Magazine published a poll for people to vote on which Verzuz battle was their favourite. No shock to us, the numbers for Beenie Man vz Bounty Killer were outstanding, with a whopping 88 per cent of the votes apportioned to their battle.
As icons of Jamaica's local genres, Beenie Man and his now friend (former rival) the warlord Bounty Killer, were the first two to have a face-to-face showdown (in the same room) and represent for the Jamaican clash culture in the internationally-acclaimed virtual battle of hits. Jamaican culture, frequently defined by competition, is known for putting talent on a battle-esque type show more popularly called a CLASH. The two deejays did just that. They flexed their lyrical muscles in approximately 20 rounds for close to 500,000 viewers on Instagram TV Live in the special Memorial Day Weekend edition of Verzuz TV on May 23.
Before the end of their battle, media, both local and international, had already declared the dancehall Verzuz battle as the most entertaining and drama-filled. It was seen this way not only for its interruption by Jamaican law enforcement but by holding the viewers' attention throughout and unlocking the energy of a traditional 1990s dancehall clash. The battle scored significant points with fans as we are in a time when live entertainment is imprisoned due to the pandemic (curse you 2020).
According to seasoned record producer and music engineer Dale Virgo, "Having watched multiple Verzuz battles which encompassed a diverse set of artistes from the different genres of music, nothing compared to Beenie Man vs Bounty Killer." Dale has worked with some of Jamaica's top performers as well as international acts such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Grace Jones and Amy Winehouse before her untimely demise.
Since May 23, 2020, the online series has featured other legends in the R&B and hip hop genres: 112 and Jagged Edge (who squared off two days after the eventful dancehall battle), Alicia Keys and John Legend, Fabolous and Jadakiss, DMX and Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross and 2Chainz and Brandy and Monica. Surprisingly, Brandy and Monica had their Verzuz battle one day before the poll was published and held the No. 2 spot in the polls with 3.53 per cent. Gospel artistes Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond also entertained a spiritual battle bringing the power of the Lord to Verzuz.
Dancehall can be compared to R&B and hip hop and other competitive genres, Virgo explained, "Rap, for example, is used to beat battles; DMX and Snoop Dogg [who by the way were third in the polls with 2.97 per cent votes] was dope but cannot be compared to the energy Bounty and Beenie gave us."
Taking into account, Billboard Magazine's controversial cover art that excluded the dancehall artistes and stirred the pot for negative criticism by the public on social media, the producer added, "I believe that they knew that it would be something people would talk about and with the overwhelming response from the diaspora, wanted to do damage control with the original oversight of not including them."
In the newly published polls, mentioned that 44.6 per cent of the total votes were traced to Jamaica. Despite the enthusiasm of dancehall supporters, there were a few individuals who did not deem the polls as validation.
A prominent figure in Jamaica's radio and party scene Tricia' ZJ Sparks' Spence told MadARoad.com, "They were unnecessarily disrespectful. Furthermore, there was no need to quote where most of, or even, a breakdown of the votes came from because I am sure if DMX and Snoop Dogg had led in the polls there would have been no break down as to where the voters came from."
She continued, "Dah person weh write dat article deh ah write an' ah nedge dem teet' because dem know dem do we wrong."
Sparks celebrates the dancehall artistes as role models and ambassadors of Jamaica’s culture as such see what Billboard did as a move to slight us as creatives. She explained, "Respect the culture, respect the origins of the music and respect the fact that you invite somebody to come on your show and they gave you a world-class performance that had the entire world speaking. Don't be disrespectful and slight us, after yuh nuh smarter than we."