By Rich Lowe
It all comes down to the clash. There have been many clashes on Boxing Day in Jamaica at Reggae Sting and everyone has their opinion over the ultimate winner. Over the years, some of the clashes involved Kartel vs. Ninja (2003), Bounty vs. Beenie (1993), Ninja vs. Supercat (1991), Ninja vs. Shabba (1990), Bunny Wailer and the crowd (1987). Back in the eighties, further clashes involved Papa San, Stitchie, Admiral Bailey, Cobra, among others. These clashes are modern day folklore around who prevailed and are always controversial.
One favorite is Sting 2000 where Merciless was involved with what is known as “Four The Hard Way.” At that Sting, the relatively unknown Merciless took on Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, and Ninja Man and dispatched all three with a solid collection of fresh clash lyrics. Some were caught off guard and off balance as Merciless challenged all, dressed in full fatigues and menaced physically.
We had the opportunity to visit Merciless in 2001 at his yard in Kingston and discussed his Sting performance. A video of the interview was posted on YouTube. As a result, a Beenie supporter provided a string of intelligent observations of the clash, of the artists, and of Dancehall. The discussion follows:
merciless kill ninja in 2000 naa lie even tho ninja stil betta dan him its jus 1 a dose tings sumtime u hav da upper hand sumtimesu dont,, he kinda brush bounty aswell wudnt say kill him but he did hav da better of ninja an bounty, but defo did not kill beenie man becoz beenie was not in da clash to b killed an merciless an beenie did not go hed to hed for either to b killed, mercilles an beenie on da radio afta sting an merciless didnt say he killed beenie, do da research an chek da facts
True, Beenie came in late on the clash. Beenie also did not approach the situation to directly compete, based on his performance. Still, as you know, the general position is that Merciless was the overall winner. Merciless was physically menacing and had a lotta lyrics. In my opinion he caught the others by surprise - they did not expect it. In those days there was always a clash and in that period, always a winner.
your ryt i agree overall Merciless took sting dat year no doubt but beenie only sang 2 songs an if u chek bak it was like 1 of da biggest fawud frm da crowd an den merciless himself was sayin Laing NEW MONEY to kill dese 2 fools so dat alone shows relly an truly dat merciless himself didnt relly kill anybdy apart frm ninja coz he was askin laing for new money to clash an kill bounty an beenie but him an bounty sang mre songs at each other dan him an beenie.
You are right in what you say. You are applying a lot of background and "intention" with the Laing comment and how many tunes were sung, I don't know if the background you supply supports Beenie’s hesitance. Now, I am also a Beenie supporter (really I follow all of the participants), but I'm gonna be partial cuz I shot that Merciless video man!
Further, did you see 2011 Kiprich and Merciless? Whew! Merciless was caught flat-footed, had no response to the casket, and then was left alone on stage only to hear "boos" from the crowd. I will say that the prior Sting with Merciless was Merci's day in the sun. I'll also admit Merci copied Bounty's style. Still like Merciless though!
yh i hear wat ur sayin an u defo hav a point dere i must say merciless jus ad his day in 2000 on dat night dey cudnt relly defeat him but unfortunatly he cudnt sustain a long standing high level career like a beenie or a bounty or a kartel or a vado, dt is da key in da dancehall industry, to keep a long lasting career as long as possible its all about longevity or else its not worth it to be honest, i am a fan of dancehall in general i listen all artist as long as da songs are good, i dont like da Bias ting an sum fans are soooo BIAS its unbelievable SMH
Merciless does not really have the talent to maintain for the complete horse race. I also argue that Beenie has used up all his lyrics. Beenie has not produced much of anything quality or enjoyable in the last few years. He sure is prolific and puts out volume, but maybe he has used it all up. I never thought Vybz had much talent, except for controversy and image. In the image Department he is the boss. Dead bodies scattered around your houses sure does paint a picture. -
yes so true all these artist now a days seems to just let fame an wealth get the better of them and end up start doing ridiculous tings to fuck up their own career in the long run. just pathetic if you ask me..... all the music industry needs right now is love an unity an good music without any ridiculous controversy for a while t least a good 5 years of just pure good solid music and everybody living together as 1....... not saying there shouldn't be any competitive rivalry at times yes everything needs a bit of a competitive edge at times to keep it balanced but most of them just take it out of proportion on a ridiculous level,,,,, i don't even listen to them most of the time when they go over board tbh
Good assessment. Now, I just saw the video for the Sting 2012 with Kip Rich and Merciless and Ninja... and then Twin of twins and Kip Rich. The Twin of twin was laughable, (even though I enjoyed their original entry in the scene with the Sizzla interview with the white guy). Twins had no lyrics, would stop and then repeat cuz they screwed up the lyrics, and then Kip rich steam rolled them with lyrics, aggression, and then just walked off. He nailed it.
in 1984, Reggae Sting began at Cinema 2 and was the product of Supreme Promotions. The man behind Supreme is Isaiah Laing, who is a former police with 20 years in the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Laing has maintained his promotion of Sting in Jamaica to present day and in the mid 80’s was a producer of the Supreme record label. Supreme was the label that produced many Brigadier Jerry singles. At the time, Brigadier rarely recorded as the Dancehall lyrics for The Twelve Tribes of Israel member were considered precious and exclusive to the dance. The exception is when Brigadier Jerry did record, it was almost exclusively as a single on Supreme. Laing – often with Tommy Cowan’s assistance recorded other artistes like Frankie Paul, Gregory Isaacs, and Pinchers, but the recordings were selective and not in great quantity. One perspective is that Laing did not have to record. Recording was a choice, a show of strength, and related to the authority in his role as a police.
Laing is what some call a “Bad Man Police.” A Bad Man Police is a police officer that does not always hesitate to secure proper paperwork or backup to pursue an alleged criminal. Historical police fitting this role include Laing, Keith Gardener (“Trinity”), Tony Hewitt, Reneto Adams, and Cornwall Ford (known as “Bigga Ford”). Bigga Ford is a very large and fat man, but is surprisingly agile. A good friend once told me how he saw Bigga Ford chase a youth down the street who had fired a gun. Ford was running right in step with the youth and swiftly jumped down into a gully after the youth. Soon after two shots were heard in the distance. A few minutes after, a silhouette of the hulking Ford dragging the dead body back up the gully was seen by the growing crowd of people.
These police are celebrities. These police expose themselves to extreme violence and frequently gunshot. Laing himself has been physically shot three times (The Jamaica Observer, 13, November, 2013). When groups successfully attack and destroy police stations, securing paperwork is not always a consideration. The Bad Man Police has a list of people he has killed over the years. A lesser or aspiring police is often deceased. Conversely, any innocent lives lost are a struggle for the surviving family.
Laing has maintained the Sting concerts on the day following Christmas - Boxing Day. Christmas concerts have a long history in Jamaica dating back well over 100 years. The history is described by Neely (2008, p. 210), “…Christmas morning concerts began shortly thereafter in the late nineteenth century. The most important of these were organized by [Astley] Clerk…”. Neely continues, “…Clerk figured prominently in the festival movement. In addition to Christmas morning concerts, Clerk was named the Second Vice President of the Poetry League at its formation in 1924 and took an active role in its annual competitions” (Neely, 2008, p. 212).
There is a grand variation between Merciless’ lyrical talents, YouTube comments in patois, Bad Man Police, and 100 year-old history. These remote connections, strung tightly together, make Jamaica’s music and culture so interesting. This December (2013) marks the 29th year of Reggae Sting and people are already talking.
Neely, Daniel Tannehill. (2008). “Mento: Jamaica's Original Music”: Development
Tourism and the National Frame. (Doctoral Dissertation). New York University.
Staff Writer, (2013, November 03). DP: 'Super Cop' Laing's blazing gunfights. Jamaica
Observer. Retrieved from http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/-Super-Cop--