The Gleaner: Jamaica – There were anxious moments late Saturday evening as the police drew down on the Corporate Area location where dancehall artistes Beenie Man and Bounty Killer were engaged in a highly anticipated Verzuz clash.
The dancehall icons had been offering one hit song after another during the event being streamed live to nearly half a million viewers when Beenie Man made it clear something unexpected was happening.
“People, the police are here,” Beenie Man announced, greeting the cops who remained off camera.
He also told the police that the clash was being streamed live on international TV.
“Can we not do this right now right now? The world is watching us. We have 500,000 people watching us all over the world. Do you want to be that guy?” questioned Beenie Man before resuming the clash.
By then, Bounty Killer had gone off screen.
“Come on officer. Tell the officers go home,” pop star Rihanna posted on Instagram.
The local promoters could not be immediately reached for a comment or to say whether they had obtained permission for the event to be staged during curfew hours imposed by the government as part of the COVID containment measures.
However, Culture Minister Olivia Grange said she was happy that the situation was resolved.
Grange said she had been in talks with Solid Agency to make special arrangements to facilitate the event and was awaiting a formal letter from the entity.
“I don’t recall seeing that letter but it would not have been a problem. I had no doubt that if there was ever an issue, it would be resolved amicably,” said Grange.
Earlier, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had tweeted that he was enjoying the clash of the two dancehall veterans.
Speaking later on his behalf, press secretary Naomi Francis said it was a night when Jamaica won.
“Jamaica won tonight and the prime minister is ecstatic to have witnessed how well both men represented,” she said.
Francis said Bounty and Beenie showed that they are really the flag-bearers of Jamaican culture and music.
“I know that the Prime Minister is happy that they paid homage to the country that they rose from by playing the national anthem,” she said.
Meanwhile, Grange said the clash erased any possible doubt that Jamaica is the entertainment capital of the world.
“There is no question or doubt, Jamaica’s music is the most powerful music in the world. That was proven again tonight with how many celebrities, both local and international, tuned in to the clash,” she said.
The Verzuz battle, which was organised by American producer Swizz Beatz and Timbaland was streamed live on Instagram, with people also pushing the show to YouTube channels and their personal social media accounts.
Entertainers DJ Khaled, Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg, Konshens, Buju Banton, Sean Paul and Damian Marley were among the nearly 500,000 viewers who logged on.