Jamaican legend Beenie Man claims credit for birth of Zimdancehall

Legendary Jamaican dancehall chanter Beenie Man seen here in Harare, Zimbabwe (May 2015)

Legendary Jamaican dancehall chanter Beenie Man has claimed that he not only inspired the Zimbabwean strain of dancehall that has become popular in the country over the years, but also coined the term ZimDancehall itself.

Until now, it was widely purported that the popular sub-genre got its name from UK-based disc jockey Slaggy Yout.

Speaking in patois on Radio Jamaica, Beenie Man said he had given guidance to Zimbabwean artistes when, at the time, they seemed lost on how to take the genre forward in their country.

“Zim-Dancehall, a me meck it enuh. A me meck it. A me name it too – Zim-Dancehall,” Beenie told host of Radio Jamaica’s Two Live Crew, Dahlia Harris and Christopher “Johnny” Daley.

“Caw mi buck up a whole heap a artiste over there an dem nuh know weh fi do.

Suh wi jus seh ‘studio!’ An wi guh a di studio an wi start mek riddim an seh ‘play dis, play dat’; play dis; guh suh. Guh roun suh. Gimme da base yah; gimme dah keyboard yah.”

Beenie Man’s claim is likely to fuel further debate about the true roots of the sub-genre in the country.

A January 2015 article published in Music in Africa, titled The Rise of ZimDancehall, noted that the sub-genre “owes its origins to Jamaican reggae music which was popularised in the country by Bob Marley’s memorable performance at independence in 1980”.

According to the publication, subsequent visits by other Reggae artists, including Shabba Ranks in 1993, as well as Sizzla Kalonji and Capleton in 2010, among others, had given the country a dancehall heritage that subsequently led to a groundswell of followers of the sun-genre.

While foreign acts were a hit, the 1990s so the breakout of local stars such as Major E, Booker T and Potato, who all gave the genre a distinctly Zimbabwean flavour.


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