JM | Aug 17, 2022

Skeng versus Masicka feud potentially productive for dancehall, says UWI professor

Ategie Edwards

Ategie Edwards / Our Today

Bounty Killer (left) and Beenie Man.

Beenie vs Bounty, Gaza vs Gully and Popcaan vs Alkaline. These are some of the most notable feuds in recent dancehall history and now it appears Skeng and Masicka are next in line.

While the word “feud” may have a negative connotation, in the culture of dancehall, according to Professor Donna Hope, professor of culture, gender and society at the Mona Campus, University of the West Indies, feuds can be productive.

“The culture of feuds in the dancehall genre for me has been a very productive component of the music cycle, the cycle of music production, the cycle of lyrics production. For me, that has been one of the ways that artistes, especially male artistes, have been able to sort of have the energy and drive to keep on churning out song after song,” Professor Hope explained.

WARNING: Music video contains explicit lyrics

It has been said that Skeng’s most recent song, Day Break, takes jabs at Update DJ Masicka, mentioning the name of his mother, girlfriend, and the community he hails from.

Further to this, reports are that Masicka was the first to draw blood, publicly criticising the use of molly, a drug the London entertainer has been known to endorse. Additionally, Masicka is said to have been seen laughing at a comment criticising Skeng’s entourage.

Professor Donna Hope. (Photo: mona.uwi.edu)

While Professor Hope does believe Day Break is in fact a ‘diss’ track, whether or not it is directed toward Masicka is unclear to her, given the lack of concrete evidence. However, if the Kingston native meant to fire lyrics at the Moments DJ, Professor Hope’s advice to Masicka is for him and his team to determine the desired direction before producing a response, if any at all.

“Depends on what he’d want for his career… . Remember a feud can carry your career forward if you focus on the lyrics and then energise the fans around the lyrics. …You know, Skeng spouts a lyrics, you spout a lyrics… it can be a back and forth but it depends on what Masicka and Masicka’s team want and if they desire to have Masicka embroiled in a lyrical (feud) because, if it’s not gonna be lyrical, it’s not gonna work,” she said.

Although lauding Masicka’s artistry, stage performance and talent, Professor Hope believes the DJ isn’t receiving the stripes he deserves, noting that Skeng, who is a part of the new generation of dancehall, is the “toast of the town” and is “hot” right now when compared to Masicka. Therefore, if the more seasoned artiste’s goal is to be the “toast of the town” once again, a lyrical feud may be in his best interest.

“When people want to get elevated to kingship and higher levels, the rule is, as the mafiosa will tell you, ‘to become a Don, you kill a Don’. So, lyrically, if you want to elevate, you chop somebody that is higher than you. …He and his team will have to make a decision if he wants to respond and, if so, craft an appropriate response.”

With dancehall’s cutting-edge stage show, Sting, returning after a two-year absence, Hope explained that it is also important to consider that feuds can be generated for lyrical battles to play out in this space.

Vybz Kartel (left) and Mavado.

While Professor Hope does not dismiss the fact that feuds can cause harm, she argued that, if the entertainers focus solely on the lyrical and musical content, they can do well, despite losing a few battles -as in what she describes as the most notable feud, Beenie vs Bounty. Both artistes, although losing a few battles over the two-decade long clash, are top names in their field and considered veterans.

Professor Hope named the creation of albums, visibility in their careers, increase in resources and profiting as benefits of feuds if they are properly managed in a controlled environment.


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