Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, as well as, fans of Verzuz weren’t happy with Billboard snubbing Beenie Man and Bounty Killer off their cover.
The silent, invisible, but very deadly strain of this latest coronavirus outbreak has not only proved destructive on the biological front but has also severely disrupted the normal social topography of the world. A couple of hip hop and R&B’s top talents brought about shows aimed at entertaining the masses stuck at home. The likes of Boosie Badazz and Tory Lanez turned their Instagram Live sessions into full-blown clubs; prominent deejays and radio station Live streamed their deejays, many for the first time; and producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz formed the Verzuz platform. Out of all the shows formed during the period, Verzuz is one of the few who have grown from strength to strength.
However, what battle really turned this impromptu idea from ashy to flashy? Many, including the show’s organizers, would note the Jamaica dancehall showdown as one of the turning points. With this in mind, many questions are now being thrown at the Billboard for the motives behind one of their most recent digital exclusive cover story.
The cover for the article was shared to the Verzuz Tv Instagram page as well and those of organizers Swizz and Timbaland, however, something seemed quite bizarre about the artwork which compromised of past Verzuz competitors. The cover completely eliminated dancehall icons Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. Soon enough, a couple of disgruntled dancehall players and fans voiced their concerns about the apparent shade.
Dancehall selector Hottarice10 referenced popular New York rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine’s accusations of Billboard when he wrote, “@6ix9ine0fficial tell we bout uno.” Others simply labeled the move as disrespectful. “Why are Bounty and Beenie not on this cover? They had by far the best Verzuz battle. Disrespectful,” wrote one of the platforms followers.
One person spoke on how the platform could use its power to uplift other genres coming out of the Caribbean region. “Glad to read that there was a mention of @kingbeenieman & @grunggaadzilla in this article, but again Caribbean artists are excluded from the optics – which in this day and age is important. Publications like @billboard @rollingstone etc are not only cultural barometers but are also data points for artists and the industry. Instead of writing bi-annual think pieces about “how can Reggae/Dancehall/Soca break into the US??” – use your platform to be the catalyst for elevating these genres and musical cultures!.”
Major Lazer’s Walshy Fire called on Swizz to make the necessary corrections when he penned the following in the comment section below his original celebratory post. “@billboard front page w no @kingbeenieman and @grunggaadzilla? The best @verzuztv not in the cover? Nah @therealswizzz we gotta #fixtings.”
To the joy of the dancehall community, the complaints were fed through the right channels, and the poster was redone to present Beenie Man and Bounty Killer at the forefront. The organizers also provided a heartfelt apology through a statement shared below the updated artwork. “To our fans, while we are honored that Verzuz made the cover of Billboard, this would not have been possible without Beenie Man & Bounty Killer, who set a big tone for our audience and represented for Jamaica. Thank You Billboard for the acknowledgment but, we feel this version of the cover best represents THE VERZUZ EFFECT.”
The two Jamaican musical legends both shared the updated versions on their page. Beenie Man used one of the slangs he developed from the Verzuz battle in May to show his disappointment in Billboard. “Billboard REALLY IS THAT GUY,” he dropped in the caption. He also voiced his concern on Twitter, where he referenced unspecified persons as Culture Vultures.
“When will DANCEHALL get it’s recognition???? Nuh matter how the impact, no matter the hard work, no matter how powerful the music is, them still try it everytime them get a chance. Ah time now man. #FixUp,” he wrote in one tweet before following up with a double.
“Don’t try undermine the thing .#Dancehall,” he warned before getting a bit more direct. “Big up Swizz & Timz but this is what our genre face! Everybody fwd and tek piece and build up dem thing and then do everything to undermine the genre DANCEHALL where they got it from.” Bounty Killer got a bit more candid with his response on Instagram. “Tell Dutty @Billboard Mi Gun Dem Still Load Cyaah Go Round Over Nor Under.” The dancehall community showed their support for the updated cover in the comments below, both posts.
The Jamaican leg of the Verzuz battle between Bounty Killer and Beenie Man has been considered of the most iconic showdowns since the start of the campaign. It was the first to run without any sort of technical difficulties, which was mostly credited to the one-room/venue setup that has been copied for other battles. To top it off, the Verzuz Instagram page experienced a significant boost in the days leading up to, and after the May 23, showdown. Another huge win came in July when it was announced that Apple Music and Beats 1 had joined forces with the Verzuz brand to stream content on their platforms in conjunction with Instagram.
There have been many talks of another Verzuz battle from Jamaica. However, organizers have yet to unveil the opponents. Only time will tell just how much this latest mishap from Billboard will affect those talks.