BY HOWARD CAMPBELL, Jamaica Observer
A New York promoter will crown Beenie Man or Vybz Kartel King of The Dancehall following The Settlement, a two-part dance scheduled for New York in May and June. Both will feature sound system selectors playing songs of both deejays throughout the events.
Walford Stewart is organiser of the dances which take place May 18 at Garage Nightclub in The Bronx, and June 7 at Mystic Lounge in Poughkeepsie.
He said fans will determine the winner, who will be named after the Mystic Lounge date. The idea to stage The Settlement came from Stewart’s colleague, Jerry McDonald, who saw a recent report on Fox TV in New York crowning the incarcerated Kartel King of The Dancehall.
Given Beenie Man and Kartel’s claim to regal supremacy, Stewart agreed to promote the events and let fans decide who deserves the title.
“Both have professed to be the king of the dancehall; Beenie Man released a song titled King of The Dancehall while Kartel released his own King of Dancehall album and sounded a warning to all and sundry with his song Undisputed Champion. At the end of the day, only one king can rule rule, hence the need for The Settlement to crown the real king,” he said.
Stewart disclosed that 45-year-old Beenie Man and the incarcerated Vybz Kartel, 43, have strong support among different demographics in New York City. He said Beenie Man appeals to fans between 30 and 55, while Kartel commands respect among fans aged 17-35.
“Kartel is a massive superstar here in the tri-state. At any NY area party when a Kartel song is played, the response from patrons on the dance floor says it all. Kartel is controversial, plus he is a master lyricist who covers all bases with his songs,” Stewart explained. “He has songs for the rude boys, he has songs to get everyone on the dance floor and keep them there and, most importantly, he has a few choice songs for the ladies. You can never go wrong with that.”
Beenie Man was among the deejays who followed up on Shabba Ranks’ success in the United States in the 1990s. His 1997 album, Many Moods of Moses, contained the hit song, Who Am I (Sim Simma), which appealed to dancehall and hip-hop fans.
Kartel, who is serving life in prison for murder, retains a hard-core following in Jamaica and pockets of the United States. His songs enjoy steady rotation at dances and on underground radio.