Today, The Advocate posted an exclusive interview with notorious dancehall singer Beenie Man, in which he allegedly “apologizes” for song after song calling for the death of gay people. Oh, and promotes his new album.
In the intro, writer Akim Bryant discusses how Beenie (born Anthony Moses Davis) went on YouTube earlier this year to issue a mea culpa for his past bigotry:
“However, back in May 2012, Beenie Man took to YouTube posting the first-ever apology video by any dancehall artist to date, in which he said, “Let me make this clear…I have nothing against no one. I respect each and every human being regardless of which race or creed, regardless of which religious belief…regardless of which sexual preference you have including gay and lesbian people.”
Actually, that’s not an apology. It might be a change of opinion, or a clarification, but we don’t see anything about Beenie, 38, being sorry for contributing to violence perpetrated against the LGBT community.
In fact, Beenie didn’t think it was either: In follow-up interviews he said “I never apologized,” and “I told them to leave us alone, to try to understand where we are coming from.”
If you want to understand where Beenie’s coming from, take a look at some of his lyrics: In “Mi Nah Wallah”, he chants about about cutting the throats of all gay men. In another song he sings “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays.”
And we can’t stop singing “Take a bazooka and kill batty-fucker,” when we’re in the shower.
The New York Times’ Kelefa Sanneh found some real zingers:
In “That’s Right,” the infectious chorus begins, “We burn chi-chi man and then we burn sodomite and everybody bawl out, say, ‘Dat right!'”
And in “Han Up Deh,” Beenie Man cracks some jokes (“Man a save yuh from drowning is a lifeguard/ Man a watch a man batty, him a batty-guard”), then delivers an anti-gay party chant, asking listeners to raise their hands if they agree: “Hang chi-chi gal wid a long piece a rope/ Mek me see di han’ a go up, mek me see di han’ a go up.”
Beenie likes to say he’s being persecuted for songs he wrote as a wayward youth: “Do not fight against me for some song that I sing 20 years ago.” But these murderous lyrics come from tracks that were all released after 2000. (“Batty Man Fi Dead,” or “Faggots Must be Killed,” was released in 2004.)
And he’s performed many of them well into the new millennium.
Maybe Beenie spells it out in the actual Q&A? Bryant asked the Jamaican dancehall star what prompted him to do the YouTube “apology” (Bryant’s word not ours).
“…If you want people to love your music, all you have to do is respect people for who they are. So when I go to Europe now, me have 30 shows—10 of them canceled. People come out and they protest.
…The next reason is I have done a song with Janet Jackson and it being taken off the charts, video taken off MTV. Now this song with me and Nicki [Minaj]. We textin’ and everything (she says) you need to stop it and make people understand that’s not who you are right now.”
Either Beenie isn’t media-savvy or he doesn’t want to bullshit the reader—he’s making it pretty clear he’s changed his tune to stop the boycotts against him, not because he realized hatred and violence are wrong.
It only gets worse from there, folks.
When Bryant asks what kind of change Beenie has seen since talking about treating gays fairly, he replies “the shows that we used to get banned from, we are now booked.”
When he asks Beenie about the homophobia that still rages in his homeland, his response is exasperating: “I can’t be concerned about Jamaica and small-minded and one-track, ya understand?”
Worst of all, Beenie suggests gays in Jamaica rape children—and Bryant leaves it unchallenged:
“You have place in the Caribbean where gay and lesbian is legal like Barbados and a few more places. But Jamaica is a place where it’s just bent one way because gay in Jamaica is not like it is in America. It’s mostly big men with money going down in the ghetto and turning the local youths so you call that statutory (rape) or child molestation.
They convince the youth that they are this way…and me know enough youth this way. That’s why when it comes to gay murder in Jamaica, it’s so vicious. With local youth, they can’t go back to their life that they used to know. And then [the rich men] use them and go find the next youth to use. So people need to understand that in Jamaica it’s a different lifestyle. It’s not like two men come together and say I like [to date men]. That’s not the way it is in Jamaica.
So right now until that finished and the youth stop getting kidnapped and found raped and thrown in a bush…until that stops and gays and lesbians speak out against child rapists and all of these things, then the government will see where they’re coming from.
You can’t beat up on the government when you don’t understand what the government is fighting for. They’re not fighting against [gays]. In the government in Jamaica right now, me sure you can find a few gay people. But the whole Caribbean needs support because the [rapes] have to stop.”
Instead of addressing that claim—and trying to sort out the truth from malicious myths—Bryant next asks Beenie about appearing on The RuPaul Show back in 1996. Who gives a damn about RuPaul (sorry, Ru)?!? The man just said gays in Jamaica don’t deserve equality because they’re child rapists!
Maybe Bryant and his editor just wanted to let Beenie hang himself with his words. But that’s not what comes across—not with a headline like: “Beenie Man Apologizes: The king of dancehall music is sorry for his past homophobic lyrics and says his view on LGBT equality has evolved. “
Toward the end of the interview, Bryant asks Beenie if he’d ever perform at an LGBT event. “Ya know, I just can’t answer that,” the singer replies. “When I get there, I get there, seriously.”
We’ll save you the trouble, Beenie. We don’t want you.
Photo: Alex Const