Those new to the soundclash culture of Dancehall Reggae saw firsthand the intensity and high stakes action when two masters of the craft faced off. Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, two of Jamaica’s most decorated deejays, clashed for a well-attended VERZUZ battle for the ages that was entertaining until the very end.
At a later date, we’ll get more into the soundclash culture and how it is a hallmark of dancehall music but the claim of superiority is an important mantle to the artist and sound systems that make up the genre. To put it in simpler terms, the clash is the framework that battle rap exists upon today. These head-to-head battles are often steeped in long-running feuds with real stakes behind the scenes, and that was true for Beenie and Bounty.
Beenie Man has been an artist since grade school with Bounty Killer also starting his career at a young age as well. Both men began surging as dancehall stars in the early 1990s and in 1992, Beenie began taking shots at Bounty by saying his budding rival took the “people dead” phrase for himself by lifting it.
The feud came to a boiling point in 1993 during the epic Sting festival where Beenie was performing and Bounty stormed the stage. However, not only did Beenie welcome the challenge, he stood tall against Bounty in what is still one of the most historic clashes and may have eclipsed the 1991 Sting clash between Super Cat and Ninjaman, both grandmaster deejays themselves.
The back and forth between Beenie and Bounty continued on with both men getting the better of the other interchangeably over the years. And while Bounty has enjoyed fame internationally, Beenie’s commercial success and crossover appeal had the pair hitting different markets altogether.
On Instagram Live, the battle got a bit of a late start but the wait was worth it with over 500,000 viewers awaiting the battle. Beenie and Bounty, perhaps showing kindness to American and international viewers, rattled off songs with collaborators such as Pharrell Williams, Smif N Wesun aka Cocoa Brovaz, Wyclef, Prodigy, and more.
But perhaps the greatest portion of the battle was not when the police nearly interrupted the session, but the fact that Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness joined the festivities. Rihanna entered the chat and got a hilarious shoutout from the fellas, with so many celebrities showing off their Jamaican pride, like Cleveland Cavaliers big man Andre Drummond, and more.
The full battle can be viewed below, and the Verzuz team has compiled the playlist links here. Keep scrolling to see some of our favorite reactions on Twitter.
Big up to Beenie Man and Bounty Killer for an entertaining and energetic VERZUZ battle.