Sat | Jul 4, 2020

Shaggy pushes for US visas for Bounty, Beenie

Published:Monday | May 25, 2020 | 12:16 AM
Dancehall legends Beenie Man (right) and Bounty Killer.
Dancehall legends Beenie Man (right) and Bounty Killer.

On the heels of last weekend’s titanic clash between dancehall artistes Beenie Man and Bounty Killer that captured the attention of international fans, media outlets, and industry players, there is a push for the two to be reissued with United States visas to promote Jamaican music and culture.

The self-styled ‘King of the Dancehall’ and ‘The Warlord’ were featured on the Verzuz Instagram platform being promoted by producers Swizz Beats and Timbaland.

The performance of the two racked up more than 500,000 views, although the counter did not factor restreaming on other platforms.

“This was a boost to our spirits, our tourism, our economy, our music, and, most importantly, Brand Jamaica,” international reggae artiste Shaggy, whose given name is Orville Burrell, said.

Shaggy has called on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to lobby for the two to be reissued visas and work permits.

“It’s about time we rally the powers that be to free up these artistes …, allow them travelling visas and work permits so they can travel freely to promote our culture and represent our brand.

“I am calling on the Jamaican Government, the US ambassador, and the United States Embassy to at least start having a dialogue where this is concerned,” Shaggy said in a post on Instagram yesterday.

He also urged Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s culture minister, to intervene.

“The culture needs it, the music needs it, the economy needs it, the country needs it, and the fans need it,” pleaded Shaggy.

Bounty Killer, whose lyrics are often laced with depictions of gun violence and murder, had his US visa cancelled in 2010. At the time, an email advisory was sent to airlines not to board the artiste, as well as three other deejays, as their visas were being revoked.

The United States Embassy in Kingston has not said why his visa was revoked.

Beenie Man has also had his visa revoked.

Several other dancehall acts are without a US visa, among them Popcaan and Tommy Lee Sparta.