Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Beenie Man - Dancehall Artiste

Beenie Man (born Anthony Moses Davis August 22, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica) is one of Jamaica’s greatest dancehall artistes.

Beenie Man was involved in the music industry from a young age when he won the Tastee Talent contest in 1980. Only one year later (1981), when he was eight years old, he recorded a single, "Too Fancy", with record producer "Junjo" Lawes. By 1983, Beenie Man was recording with heavyweight DJs, such as Dillinger and Fathead and released his debut album, The Invincible Beenie Man: The Ten Year Old DJ Wonder and the single "Over the Sea". After such a prodigious start the artist`s career lost momentum in the middle of the eighties decade. Beenie Man continued performing and honed his craft beside the then dominant dancehall figures including Ninjaman, Admiral Bailey and Shabba Ranks. He found his artistic home at the Shocking Vibes studio where he continued to record singles with only moderate success towards the end of the decade.

In 1991 he was booed off stage at a show celebrating the visit of Nelson Mandela. After this crushing event Beenie Man renewed his desire for success, and at the age of nineteen the album Cool Cool Rider was released largely unnoticed. He still continued to pursue dancehall stardom by releasing a slew of tunes to start the decade. It was at the same time that a notable artist from Seaview community in Jamaica emerged bearing the name Bounty Killer. Both deejays found success with violent lyrics and hostile delivery and soon accused each other of plagiarism. In 1993 at the very popular show Sting Beenie Man and Bounty Killer met in a lyrical battle that has become legendary in dancehall history. Their feud continued on the air with each artist counteracting the other's songs. In 1995, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer appeared to settle their differences on the air by actually signing a peace treaty. The album Guns Out was soon released, featuring tunes from both deejays and bearing a photograph from their legendary battle on stage. This was followed by a single, "No Mama No Cry", a rehash of the Bob Marley classic "No Woman No Cry", speaking out against violence and inspired by the murder of Pan Head, another popular Deejay. The two artists soon found enough common ground to perform together on a number of local shows in the mid nineties.

Partially as a result of prodding from his producers, Sly and Robbie, Beenie Man soon converted to the Rastafari movement.

In 1994, he was signed by Island Records and released the critically acclaimed album Blessed. The truce between the two artists proved to be short-lived. In the late nineties, as their popularity in Jamaica and internationally grew, neither deejay seemed wlling to admit that the other was as worthy of the spotlight. Verbal attacks on each other were again delivered in interviews, studio releases and live performances. Now going thirteen years, the war of words between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer continues today as one of the longest rivalries in the history of music.

In 1995, Beenie Man released a remix of Barrington Levy's "Under Mi Sensi" in the United Kingdom, and collaborated with Dennis Brown and Triston Palma to release Three Against War and Lt. Stitchie on Mad Cobra Meets Lt. Stitchie & Beenie Man. He took another step up the ladder in 1996, releasing the seminal Maestro, produced by Patrick Roberts and shot him to UK fame. During the period from the mid to late '90s, Beenie Man dominated the Jamaican charts to the extent that he perhaps had a good claim to the crown of "Dancehall King", a title only bestowed previously on Yellowman in the early 1980s.

Beenie Man`s first real break into the United States came in 1997. He heard a musical track produced by an unknown called Jeremy Harding and demanded to add his voice to the rhythm. So was the birth of his first international hit. He recorded Who Am I better known as Sim Simma and the single quickly went Gold. It opened the doors for the world to see a new reggae star in the pages of Newsweek and other major media outlets.

In 1998, Beenie Man signed to Virgin Records to release albums in the United States. His first American offering was The Doctor (1998). In 2000, Beenie Man released Art & Life which featured Arturo Sandoval and Wyclef Jean (The Fugees). He received a Grammy award for the album. During the late 1990s, Beenie Man began his conquest of America with the hits, "Romie", "Who Am I" and "Girls Dem Sugar", which featured American R&B singer, Mya. During this time he received an impressive number of international music awards, while remaining at the top of the local charts.

In 2002, he had a sizeable hit with a duet with Janet Jackson called "Feel It Boy", but his biggest break in America came in early 2004 with the release of a remix of "Dude", featuring guest vocals by fellow Jamaican Ms. Thing, as well as rhymes by Shawnna. In the midst of this popularity he was taken to task by international activists for lyrics penned in Jamaica in the previous decade. Beenie Man is still going strong and remains one of Jamaica’s a finest entertainers.

See you in Jamaica.


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