By Stephanie K, Jamaicans.com
Fans from around the world tuned in online as Jamaican dancehall artists Beenie Man and Bounty Killer faced off in-person in Jamaica in a clash in the Verzuz music battle series on May 23, 2020. The two deejays who have a famous rivalry were featured as part of the series created by American record producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland on the Instagram platform. The online clash lasted for more than an hour and was viewed by 500,000 people on Instagram and 1.7 million people on a variety of other platforms. Among the viewers were many celebrities, including pop stars and entrepreneur Rihanna, actor Idris Elba, music industry mogul Diddy, Jamaican Olympic sprint legend Usain Bolt, and the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness.
The duo showed respect by starting their battle with the playing of Jamaica’s national anthem. They then went on to perform 20 songs each in a back-and-forth format, exchanging jabs at one another throughout the clash as well as telling stories about “goings-on” behind the music.
In what was described as “true Jamaican fashion,” the battle experienced a brief interruption when police came to ask about the loud music and social gathering. Beenie Man told them that they were participating in a global event, and the police let things continue. The organizers of the clash, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, and most viewers thought this battle was the best in the Verzuz series to date. Following the battle, Swizz Beatz said that Jamaica, which has long been thought of as a third-world country, was represented as the leader of the world through this performance. There was a virtual after-party following the clash that featured Stone Love sound, which was cited by the producers as among the organizers of clash culture.
Both Beenie Man and Bounty Killer trended for hours on social media following the event, which was covered by CNN, the global media television network, and both artists also received a big boost in music streams since the battle.
Damion Crawford, among other Jamaican politicians, commented on Twitter, stating that COVID-19 has caused major damage to Jamaica’s tourism sector in 2020, but Beenie Man and Bounty Killer have succeeded in saving the whole industry with their music battle.