Beenie Man - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Beenie Man Interview

June 2006

Having a lengthy musical legacy which began at the age of five, Dancehall's self-proclaimed king is still as strong in the scene as he ever was. From hits like "Who Am I? (Zim Zimma)" and "Dude," Beenie Man has dominated mainstream music and through doing so, has collaborated with some of music's biggest names including none other than Janet Jackson.

I had a chance to talk with Beenie Man, and though you may have preferred reading the transcripts to reflect his word pronounciation, reading this has a much more smooth flow.

His forthcoming album, "Undisputed" is due out late July on Virgin records with the lead single "Hmm Hmm" getting airplay now.

MVRemix: What's the biggest mis-conception people have of Beenie Man?

Beenie Man: [pauses] Not knowin' that I'm a real Rastafarian.

MVRemix: How do you feel that affects you?

Beenie Man: It don't effect me. It make me feel better to know what people think because people have a thing where them judge ya from music or from where ya sing or from ya standards. In the one sense, people try to put you in the one little... Wha' ya call it now? One little circle where them can understand. Then you don't want to understand me, you know? You need someone to overstand the music, love me music, and know what I'm sayin' say with it what you know with it. Ya know? It's all conception.

MVRemix: How did the name "Beenie Man" originate?

Beenie Man: Alright... I'm a man with many knowledge. From the age five, I've been around people like Jimmy Cliff and Ross Garby and Ross Michael or Sondanegas or all these things. So the people on the old side, who sit here with me friends, like all me school friends and all these things... Them just call me Beenie Man as me as a little youth being the man with the braids. That's where it stemmed from. Beenie Man mean a small person. A person in a small body.

MVRemix: If you're the "King" of Dancehall, who held the crown before you?

Beenie Man: Excuse me?

MVRemix: If you're the "King" of Dancehall, who held the crown before you? Who came before you as the best in Dancehall?

Beenie Man: Oh - Yellow Man. And after him was Shabba Rankin' (Shabba Ranks)... After Shabba Rankin' there's me.

MVRemix: Tell me about "Undisputed"

Beenie Man: "Undisputed" is an album to... It really sums me up in one word. I've never been down, never been defeated; always been a champion for thirteen years. On top of Dancehall music for many years; you know and I know that I have been makin' hits in Jamaica and abroad and keepin' things real... So...

MVRemix: How does this album differ from your previous albums?

Beenie Man: "Undisputed" is not different from the previous albums, but the style of lyric is different. The style of flowin' is different because the last album never got the chance to hit the people the right and proper way, but this album... I feel kind of good here.

MVRemix: How long did the album take to record?

Beenie Man: This album? Couple of months it take. It take longer than the last album.

MVRemix: Which song took the longest?

Beenie Man: No songs take the longest, the problem is the time. At the time my brother died and I went through a lot of things, and my sister died and I went through another lot of things. It took a period of time for me to get over that, you know - to get back in the studio.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with Ivy Queen?

Beenie Man: I have met her in Miami like three years ago, and she said she was "The Queen of Reggaeton." From then she was calling me "The King Of The Dancehall." These are the people that make me write these songs; Ivy Queen, Tego, Asewan - these people been calling me the "King of the Dancehall" six or five years ago. So that's how I link up with Ivy Queen - I met her in Miami. She said, "Listen, we need to do a song" and I never heard from her again ever, until this album came up.

MVRemix: What are your thoughts on Reggaeton? How do you feel about it as a music genre?

Beenie Man: Reggaeton is a music from Dancehall music so I do love it.

MVRemix: Aside from "Undisputed" are you working on any non-musical projects? Films etc.

Beenie Man: Yes.

MVRemix: Can you tell me a bit about those?

Beenie Man: I can't tell you about every one of them, but I can tell you about one project that I'm doing, it's called "Delila." That's what I'm working on, that's my pet project right now. It's a movie.

MVRemix: Did you write it or are you acting in it or...

Beenie Man: I wrote the movie, act in the movie and co-direct the movie.

MVRemix: Do you still DJ regularly?

Beenie Man: Of course I do.

MVRemix: What's your favourite record that you include in most of your DJ sets?

Beenie Man: As a DJ you don't got a favourite record. Record's go every month, like this month this record is the hottest, next two months it's that and then that. So I can't have a favourite record. But a record that you always play [ponders] - Madonna - "Virgin," sex for the very first time. You know that Buju Banton's [singing] "Strangest feeling I'm feeling" never fails, so I always start with that. The party is goin' on, get the cultural segment goin' on, then you go straight into the ladies.

MVRemix: Nowadays, are you more so based in the U.S. or Jamaica?

Beenie Man: [surprised] Me? I live in Jamaica.

MVRemix: So it's mainly that you come over to the U.S. for business?

Beenie Man: Yeah, I don't base nowhere.

MVRemix: What's Beenie Man's creative process?

Beenie Man: Let me see... I make songs from anything possible. If it's impossible, then you know, I be goin' some Superman ways, but I make songs from anything possible. Whether it's love, hate, violence, peace, unity, Jesus Christ and Nazareth - anything.

MVRemix: Do you start with the concept or the music?

Beenie Man: I start with the beat, then the concept come to me. The music come to me then the lyrics actually just start floatin' in my head.

MVRemix: How do you believe Dancehall has changed over the decade?

Beenie Man: Dancehall has changed. Now I been doing music since 1977, so you askin' the wrong person here. Dancehall has changed from sound systems, the selector, the chanter and the mic. The selector plays the song, then they flip over the version. Then the chanter come on the mic and rip the mic from seven at night, to seven o'clock the next morning. That's what Dancehall was. Now it's all DJ's playing [imitates DJ sounds] - it's not no more you freestylin' for ten hours. That's changed to all industry now. You've got to have this new song before you go on stage. That's why me, I never caught in that situation. I can always go on stage, whether I have a new song or not. And my latest release was two years ago or five years ago, I could always go and wreck a show because I know exactly what to do. To them Dancehall has changed. To me it hasn't.

MVRemix: How have you changed as an artist over the past decade?

Beenie Man: I'm more improved. I'm like a robot that re-programs. [chuckles] I'm more improved.

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Beenie Man: Who would I fight? Hulk Hogan!

MVRemix: Do you think you'd win?

Beenie Man: I don't think, I know I would!

MVRemix: Why Hulk Hogan?

Beenie Man: Because he's the baddest and most wickedest wrestler ever. And you know I'm a wrestling fan because I watched as I was a kid and I grew up. I know him personally, but I still would fight him though. I don't care.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Beenie Man: There's no last words, there's more words. Just love me and respect me more and I love you forever.

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    "I could always go and wreck a show because I know exactly what to do. To them Dancehall has changed. To me it hasn't. "