If there’s one thing Jamaicans know how to do, it’s put on a show. And if anyone can put on a show it’s veteran dancehall artists Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, whose Verzuz battle on Instagram Live last night was reminiscent of a clash at a real life Jamaican concert.
Before you accuse me of being biased for saying the battle between the two Jamaican entertainers was the best Verzuz so far (given my own Jamaican nationality), consider the material:
It felt like a true Caribbean party from the very beginning—especially when police showed up early on in the live and tried to lock it off.
Luckily, the cop crisis was averted and the more than 400,000 viewers who tuned in for the Verzuz battle were left to fully appreciate the free virtual concert we were getting from two legends—blessedly with no technical issues. Beenie Man and Bounty Killer aren’t new to battling. They had a notorious rivalry throughout the 90s that fueled many a fiery performance on stage at Sting, a legendary dancehall concert in Jamaica that takes place every year on the day after Christmas. (Check out this clip from one of their Sting face-offs in 1995).
Props, performance, theatre are all par for the course for a classic dancehall clash, and though the relationship between Bounty and Beenie has long mellowed since their younger days—they still know how to entertain an audience by going up against each other. Kurt Riley, one of Jamaica’s most renowned DJs, excellently spun iconic songs from Beenie Man’s catalogue like “Memories,” and “Girls Dem Sugar,” and anthems from Bounty Killer like “Fed Up,” and “Benz and Bimma.” The two veterans also took a detour from pre-recorded songs to cut up on the mic:
The battle was full of moments of hilarity, such as when Bounty called out to fellow islander Rihanna who was in the comments of the live. The Bajan singer’s long-awaited next album is reported to be heavily influenced by Jamaican music.
But the absolute highlight of the night for me was when Bounty, in true dancehall clash fashion, played a dubplate that he had recorded just for the Verzuz battle. I was doubled over laughing at the dub when the King of the Dancehall hit back with a freestyle on Bounty’s own EDM track, clearly taking the latter aback:
If you missed it, you can still watch a recording of the live on the official Verzuz Youtube channel and listen to the playlist of songs from the battle on Spotify or Tidal.
In the meantime, I’ll be like this for the rest of the weekend: