Beenie Man talks reinvention of self and sound for longevity
With a career spanning over three decades, Beenie Man has created an undisputed and unmissable wave. The Grammy Award-winning artiste’s contributions to Jamaican culture are forever etched in history, and he continues to be a guiding force in the proliferation of dancehall music.
As the ‘King of the Dancehall’, recording artiste and songwriter Beenie Man’s creative journey and personal life has always been privy to critics, locally and internationally, wanting to decipher the talent and his success, to which he told The Gleaner “there is no secret” during an interview at the launch party for Shenseea’s Alpha album.
For a lot of artistes, Beenie Man said “the problem is knowing when to reinvent” in a space filled with so many talented people looking for a title or to achieve stardom.
And he has become accustomed to other acts who have sought professional advice from him on surviving an industry that can sometimes be very unforgiving when an artiste decides to express their creativity by experimenting with a new genre of music or chooses an entirely new path.
“You have to know how to reinvent yourself, nuh care wah kinda style,” Beenie Man explained.
“In anything you do as an artiste, you have to take it, attach your signature to it and make it yours, make the people know that is still me, Beenie Man, ah jus’ the style is different,” he added.
Beenie Man’s start came after winning the Tastee Talent Trail competition in 1981 at seven years old, which he has said was like a classroom for dancehall, having given him the first lessons about stage presence and prepared him for the real world. He knew he had the talent and only wanted to find out the best way to get people around the world to open their arms to his sound and creativity – which it did. Beenie Man has earned the respect of the dancehall community with chart-topping productions like Matie, Romie, Girls Dem Sugar and King of the Dancehall, among others. And he is no stranger to collaborations from home with artistes such as Lady Saw, Shaggy, Vybz Kartel, Popcaan, and Alaine; and from abroad, with international megastars like Janet Jackson, Doug E Fresh, Mya, The Neptunes, Wyclef Jean, Nicki Minaj and Stonebwoy. He partly credits his international success to his pure charm and personality.
“It’s about making people love you, for you, and not the songs you sing,” he offered.
He shared that supporters of reggae and dancehall who listen to the collaboration he has with Shenseea, titled Henkel Glue, will grasp the production and easily see there is a signature sound – what people call the old or authentic Beenie Man – and a little bit of new, that is a reinvention.
“The feedback is great; there is no bad feedback, all positive and no negative is a good thing for us,” he said, adding that Shenseea’s entire album was a good reflection of an artiste who has also taken the time to reinvent their sound in order to achieve a specific goal.
The Who Am I entertainer also accepted the title of role model to artistes like Shenseea, with whom who has been able to work with and pass on some of the knowledge to, but maintained that “any advice I gave to Shenseea is doctor-patient business”.
“Mi cyaa share what me say to her, but for others, I can say love the music. Work hard in the studio but work harder on stage, because that’s where people will get to know you and recognise you and eventually know who you are and what you stand for,” he added.
Whenever the dancehall entertainer appeared to be stepping back from the stage, he would always find a way to reappear. In 2020, it was the iconic Verzuz battle with him and another dancehall legend, Bounty Killer. Thereafter, he announced that his new Simma album was in the making. Amid the sea of voices in the digital space, Beenie Man has confirmed that the album is complete.
“Everything is finished, and fans will definitely get it this year,” he said in a recent interview with THE WEEKEND STAR.
Fans can definitely expect to hear the different sides – old, new and reinvented – of the dancehall royal soon, once he decides on a record label.
“Labels a fight fi the album. We in a label battle right now, so we need fi just choose which label we a work with and move from there,” he said.
“Then I have more tours coming up; I don’t really have much Jamaican shows, but Sumfest is coming up. I will also be going to Europe and Africa soon, and me a work pon di America and Canada. So just listen out,” Beenie Man disclosed.