With just hours until their anticipated online battle on ‘Verzuz,’ dancehall entertainers Beenie Man and Bounty Killer have revealed they are not prepared. Not to fear though, it’s part of a strategy that seems to work every time they engage in any musical competition.
“Never you try to prepare for nothing like this,” Beenie Man said in an interview yesterday with Vibe Magazine & Boomshots. “If you try to prepare, nervousness kill yuh. Yuh haffi just go in there and know seh yuh have this inna di bag and go deal with it and walk out,” the Grammy award winner said.
Bounty agreed in his interview.
“I don’t prepare; I can’t prepare for a battle, I have to just go to a battle,” he said. The Warlord added, “It’s hard to prepare 20 songs when yuh have 200. I’m not prepared but I’m equipped… 20 songs a likkle bit a song dat, dem haffi mek we play more songs.”
The series, founded by super producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, unfolds between top tier artistes, songwriters/producers, each playing 20 gems from their catalog, tune-for-tune style.
Fans can tune in at Verzuz TV on Saturday, May 23, at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST, or 7 p.m. Jamaica Time.
History has shown battles lasting for as short as 75 minutes when contenders play roughly 90 seconds of each song while sharing anecdotes surrounding its production.
Others, like the three-hour wonderland curated by Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, exceed the 20-song criteria, playing the tracks from start to finish and sharing longer stories.
On spectacular nights (like Scott Verzuz Badu and Babyface Verzuz Teddy Riley), Michelle Obama jammed in the comments, and Adele, Janet Jackson, and Rihanna are other rarities. Regulars of the ‘Verzuz’ audience include Diddy, Dr. Dre, Tyrese, Jermaine Dupri, Mariah Carey, Tamar Braxton, and Usher.
Beenie Man said he has been in that audience too, adding his favorite battle was between Babyface and Riley. ‘Verzuz’ is a good programme, I really really love it because I actually watch it,” he said. “It’s about your life work and your legacy, it’s about how many hits you have in the world and I have a lot so when Swizz Beatz called…I said that’s not even a question to ask if I and I ready fi represent for the music, cause it’s my culture.”
Though he doesn’t know what will comprise his 20 tracks, he’s been going through his catalogue. “Mi really a dig back cause I am coming from the late 80s into the 90s so I am really going to play some beautiful hit songs cause I have a lot. I have 187 number one songs.”
The Waterhouse native became a child star at age eight, and soon became a leading face in dancehall, achieving everything from his first of many Billboard entries in 1995 (Slam), a label deal with Virgin Records by the late 90s, a Grammy award for his 2000 Art & Life album, and mega collabs with stars like Janet Jackson.
Bounty Killer, who was raised in Kingston’s Riverton City, was a ‘figaree‘ child vendor with a tone and deejay-style often likened to Shabba Ranks. After giving his best outside King Jammy’s studio, the producer’s brother, Uncle T, gave him a chance which paved the way to his first hit, Coppershot.
He would go on to record two dancehall fusion albums with stellar features from The Fugees, Mobb Deep and No Doubt, all earning him a spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
In their rise to fame, the men have engaged in too many clashes and lyrical punches to count. Bounty maintains it was never serious, and always musical.
“It get intense but it never get serious as in these stupid people who do clash today cause at the end of the day it’s really music why we clashing so we cannot afford to clash and destroy the music…” he said. “Sometimes music will lead to other behaviour but dem behaviour nuh important, it’s the musical behaviour that’s important cause we marketing something and we cannot afford to make marketing strategy destroy the product… Sometimes it gets intense and we realise that and we have to fix it quick cause at the end of the day, it’s really a musical battle we want.”
You can watch their interviews below.