Recently, There has been much debate as to who most deserves the title 'King of the Dancehall'. However, older artistes and musicians in the business say talk is cheap, let the work show.
Yellowman and Beenie Man have already made claims to the title, and while it is almost impossible to mention Beenie without Bounty Killer, they have all made public utterances declaring themselves as 'King'.
In a recent interview with The Gleaner Yellowman said, "If me a king? That the people dem say, all over the world. Not Jamaica alone. The people dem say it and dem have been saying it for a very long time. Is not a while ago dem say it."
Beenie Man also embraced the title when he revealed that business entities plan to crown him official 'King of the Dancehall' some time later this year.
However, Bounty Killer, performing at a show in Miami recently, reportedly said that even though he was performing second to last (Beenie closed the show), he was still the undisputed 'King of the Dancehall'. In brushing aside Beenie Man's claim to the throne, Bounty in an interview with The Gleaner said, "Wi know King Stitch, wi know King Tubbys, wi know King Yellowman, an wi know Warrior King, an wi know Jigsy King. Mi nuh know nuh odda king. One odda king mi heard about an a Peter's king, suh any odda king is a Peter's king or a Kingfish ting? So we only heard about a couple kings of the dancehall and all of a sudden we hear about this self-proclaimed king ... have you ever heard anybody say Jigsy King can't be the king? Why yuh a fight fi di kingship? Guh hold a queenship man."
MAKING LOOSE CLAIMS
But some older artistes and music professionals say some of the artistes have been making loose claims to the throne and will need much more depth and consistency if they ever hope to rightfully wear the crown.
Sound system operator Winston 'Merritone' Blake says, "There is no one person that is deserving of that title, but if you talking about a popularity contest then the race would be between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, and you have like the Vybz Kartel and others."
However, Blake says for him, in order to wear such a crown, artistes have to fit certain criteria.
"To me a king must be lyrics, your content, what you have to say. Undoubtedly, Marley's lyrics make him a king; his lyrics are echoed all over the world? Talking bout under girl an dem ting deh a King a Hype. The real kings are the people who write serious lyrics that are not only social commentary but also entertainment, like a Tony Rebel. Artistes are storytellers and especially in the areas they come from they are of great influence. So as far as I am concerned, there are some artistes who are very talented, but I would love for them to understand that the children are the first to learn their songs and do the things they say, so think before you talk," Blake said.
STILL LEADING THE PACK
Of the current crop of dancehall artistes, Blake says Buju Banton is still leading the pack.
"The only legitimate person who was only a few steps away from the coronation is Buju Banton. With the body of work that he has done already and the type of lyrical structure, he is still miles ahead of the rest, but recently he started jumping all over the place. [Because] to make a conscious album and then the next thing him gone back to talking bout di sex an thing, that kind of inconsistency cannot work for me. It's not the one-drop performance that makes you great, it's the consistency, so they need to decide exactly what they are going to be, and work consistently," Blake said.
However, In his regards for Beenie and Bounty, Blake said, "As a performer, I would give Beenie as outstanding, but in terms of lyrically, five and a half, six and I would give Bounty a seven. As a performer, Bounty just does what he does; he is not a charismatic performer, he is more militant, but Beenie will dance and add more to his performance. Bounty is a no-frills performer. He has created an image as being a warlord, but entertainment is theatre and if you are a warlord I expect you to not only say it but look the part. But Bounty's lyrics are much more serious and on the ground as to what is happening, I think Beenie is a poor lyricist, very ordinary and at this point I think that he should hire people to write for him, but ego might not allow him to do that because if he can sing anything and get a number one, then why should he? But then again there are many ways of reaching the number one in Jamaica."
Derrick Morgan says he knows King Yellowman as the King of the Dancehall, but if he was to choose from the current crop of artistes then his choice would be clear.
"Right now wid like Beenie, Bounty and Buju dem, I feel the more consistent artiste among them is Beenie Man or Buju Banton, that in terms of being a king of the dancehall now. If is the now music, I would put Beenie Man in front, for all times it would be Yellowman. Bob Marley would be the King of Reggae. Lyrics-wise, I would put Beenie Man and Buju Banton. A my two bwoy dat and if yuh want cultural deejay mi woulda put Tony Rebel. But Beenie more consistent in terms of having hits; mi nuh really know nuh Bounty (song) weh mi can si down an hum," Morgan said.
source - Jamaica Gleaner - by Teino Evans, Staff Reporter