In a clash that left Jamaica trending number one on Twitter, dancehall legends Bounty Killer and Beenie Man left the world mesmerised by their amazing catalogues on Saturday night’s highly anticipated Verzuz clash. The world went to sleep with dancehall music on their minds and woke up Sunday morning with the names of two of the genre’s most outstanding acts on their lips. The timelines of various social media platforms have been flooded with clips from what many have dubbed the best Verzuz showdown to date. The live-stream which attracted close to three million viewers from around the globe, allowed Jamaicans to share the stage with a host of international stars, including the likes of Rihanna, Missy Elliot, Keri Hilson, Ashanti, Ja Rule, Snoop Dogg, Gabriel Union and Dwyane Wade.
Likening the exposure from Saturday night’s clash to that brought on by the Olympic Games, senator and Vice-President of the People’s National Party, Damion Crawford, said dancehall music may have just saved tourism in Jamaica. Crawford said with many countries hoping to reopen their borders in June/July, the Bounty-Beenie clash, which was organised by Sharon Burke of Solid Agency, has put Jamaica front and centre for when things are up and running again.
“Normally we get a big jump in an Olympic year. Coming out of the 2012 London Olympics, we had a 13 per cent increase in tourism from out of Britain. This year we have no Olympics, and so the natural global exposure that we would have got from the Games would have been removed and, to a large extent, a lot of that was regained by having just that performance. I think they’re underselling it by saying it was ‘for the culture’, because I think they did something great for the country,” he said.
“I think very few understand what they did for the nation; not just for the culture, but for the economy, everything. Because of what happened last night (Saturday night), going forward Jamaica will be in great competition for advertisement space and advertisement dollar. We were exposed to the tune of over three million persons throughout the night and will continue to be exposed,” Crawford said of the first face-to-face Verzuz battle since the series began in March.
“I saw an article in Billboard, one in Essence, one on CNN. We couldn’t have paid for that. What these guys have done is put Jamaica in the forefront of the minds of many in our main market (the United States) from people who would have been very expensive to pay. I saw Dwyane Wade, Gabriel Union, Rihanna, Missy Elliot, Ashanti, Wyclef Jean, Puff Daddy. These are people who products pay millions of dollars for endorsement and we got that for free in prime time, with it being a holiday in the United States,” he continued.
With that said, Crawford expressed that while everyone is in celebration mode following Bounty and Beenie’s iconic performance, plans need to be put in place to ensure the industry is treated as more than an afterthought.
“Dancehall is the only industry that wasn’t considered for any care package. Now everybody is jumping up, ‘Yeah, we love it’, but the embrace of the culture isn’t being reflected in the policies. I am hoping this will spark a fight to make sure our entertainment professionals are treated equally,” he said. “This opens a door for promotion of artistes, because what this has done is prove that we can full stadiums and arenas which many promoters overseas used to claim our artistes can’t, and so the risk wasn’t taken. Right now, the Ministry of Tourism should be ensuring a greater expansion of reach by arranging interviews, etc, for these people. We can get this thing promoted three-four times bigger than what it is. The artistes also must be lobbying for greater acceptance of dancehall music as a legitimate business.”
In a post-show interview, Minister of Culture and Entertainment Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange said she has always done her best to facilitate the growth of the music industry, but Bounty and Beenie’s showing on Verzuz has pushed her to do even more.
“The efforts that I’m making now, this evening even further strengthens my resolve and commitment to work with the industry, the artistes, people like Bounty and Beenie, and many others, to ensure that we continue to be centre stage in the world,” she said. “This is a great experience and it just shows that we want to be in that space (international), and we are able to compete actively with the best. I’ve always supported the music because I know its power, and I will be doing everything I can to make sure the rest of the world knows it, too.”