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Billboard Snubs Dancehall. Jamaicans Are Not Having It.

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Approx. 3 min read

Who’d have ever thought that the biggest virtual music battle viewed by thousands globally, would now be at the centre of a firestorm between Jamaicans and US music executives? Well, it’s happening.

A recent Billboard Magazine feature that saw the faces of Jamaican dancehall heavyweights, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer displaced, angered Jamaicans everywhere and Caribbean people were generally ready to wage war, as for yet another time it seemed like US music execs had used Caribbean culture to garner their own gains, in the end reducing the artists’ efforts to nothing.

The Billboard cover does not show the Jamaican artistes images.

Over the past week, following the release of Billboard Magazine’s cover art for the VERZUZ music battle feature, the reality sunk in that Beenie Man and Bounty Killer’s spectacular show back in May seemingly did nothing in the minds of Billboard’s executives who chose to eliminate the Caribbean artistes from the cover art while showing off international acts like Jill Scott, DMX, Alica Keys, John Legend, Snoop Dogg and others. This infuriated many Jamaicans- well known radio personality, DJ Sparks arguing that the move was pure disrespect. Jamaicans beneath her Instagram post on Monday, signalled plans to “unfollow” Verzuz altogether.

Creators of Verzuz, US music producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beats, have since attempted to pacify the situation, posting a video to social media and saying that they had photoshopped themselves out and replaced their faces with those of the Jamaican artistes in solidarity with the arguments presented that Beenie and Bounty Killer’s battle had essentially promoted VERZUZ like nothing else had.

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Swizz Beatz has since said that he doesn’t want the current controversy surrounding the Billboard cover art reporting on the ‘Verzuz Effect’, to cloud the fact that to date, dancehall legends Bounty Killer and Beenie Man have delivered one of the best clashes the online show has seen.

Speaking with the Jamaica Gleaner, he said the clash was far too iconic to be marred by Billboard’s clear misrepresentation. “Sometimes I wish we were able to see things before they come out. Not to critique journalism or critique the person that’s doing the write-up, but to actually help them because sometimes a person isn’t really tapped into the culture like that. If we were able to see the cover we woulda told them real quick that ‘hey, no disrespect to such and such but Bounty and Beenie gotta be there’. These two legends who are like brothers to me helped to change the face of the Verzuz battle, and so without a doubt, their faces deserved to be there.”

He explained that he did not want the world to think that the Verzuz fraternity was in any way involved in Billboard’s misstep and that was why they attempted to “redo” the cover art in their own way. “The pride of the town is something that has always been a big deal with Jamaicans. Me and Tim are powerful guys but people feel like we had control over that (Billboard cover) and I am a little bit shocked at that. We want people to know that we wouldn’t overlook (Beenie Man and Bounty Killer) like that, no way we would,” he said to the Gleaner.

Meanwhile, Naima Cochrane, the journalist who wrote the feature has since distanced herself from the corntroversy saying that she had no part to play in the creation of the cover art. “I did not have any input in the cover nor did I see it- writers rarely do, if ever do. I saw it today when the rest of the world saw it,” she said in response to someone online.

Beenie Man, one of the artistes caught in the middle of the firestorm, has since said this is what the dancehall genre faces. “Everybody fwd and tek piece and build up dem thing and then do everything to undermine the genre DANCEHALL where they got it from.” The artiste dubbed ‘The King of the Dancehall” argued that no matter the hard work, no matter how powerful the music is, “them still try it every time them get a chance.”

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Caribbean Buzz

Grenada Shines! Soca Shines Too as Mr. Killa Gets a Space on Mainstream TV!

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Grenada for the win! One of the island’s most notable artistes, Mr. Killa has brought the energy of Soca to the big screen, internationally.

The ’Rolly Polly’ singer broadened his market reach earlier this month after his voice was used by the executive producer for the Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip, Glenda Cox. Ebuzztt understands that the production team reached out to Mr. Killa, citing his unique sound and versatility. The artist who co-owns a company called, Rebel1 Entertainment, essentially went on to create the show’s theme song, ”Housewives in the Island Babay.”

The opportunity is a significant one for Caribbean culture as Mr. Killa, who’s real name is Hollice Mapp, along with his team, have stepped into a space that hasn’t been easy to gain footing in, by most Caribbean music genres, especially Soca.

Here’s a look at the Real Housewives Ultimate Girls Trip!

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Caribbean Buzz

New Soca Parang Speaks Love, But Artist Questions Present State of T&T with Covid Cases Rising.

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Three days after Trinidad and Tobago’s government suspended the State of Emergency that had been imposed on citizens, restricting movement between 10pm and 5am, entertainer, Adrian Hackshaw, who’s best known as Bass, says, ”it seems like we’re back to square one.”

A new Soca parang track released for the Christmas season, the well known radio personality and artist said he had hoped that the lifting of the SOE would see a return to small scale events and some sort of active nightlight with the use of government’s mandated ’safe zones’ – spaces where only the vaccinated would be allowed access. Today however he is unsure, and laments the present predicament the country finds itself in, with an increased number of people being hospitalized for Covid-19.

On November 18th, seventeen COVID-19 related deaths were reported in Trinidad and Tobago by the Ministry of Health, taking the total death toll thus far to 1,908. There were 537 new Covid-19 cases accounted for by health officials on Thursday and 480 persons hospitalized. The country’s government last week said they would not be going back on efforts to move forward and urged persons to take advantage of readily available vaccines.

With these increased cases it feels like we’re back to square one even though the rest of the world seems to be moving forward,” said Bass. He pointed to the lyrics of his new Soca Parang release, “Christmas Is Love,” saying, ”I pray and continue to hope for the best. I pray that we all do what’s best for each other and I urge everyone to share love with each other this Christmas and beyond.”

Bass has always been an avid contributor to both the carnival and Christmas landscape in Trinidad and Tobago. He is just one of many artistes who remain hopeful that some semblance of normalcy will return to T&T so that their livelihoods can be returned along with it.

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