Beenie Man laments loss of juggling riddims in contemporary dancehall

Beenie Man
Beenie Man performs onstage at the BET Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP, file

King of the Dancehall Beenie Man, like many of his compatriots, is concerned that with the migration of many of Jamaica’s most prolific producers, juggling riddims, critical components of the genre, who have all but disappeared from the musical landscape, according to

“Yuh memba one time when artiste used to deh pan one riddim? Dat nuh gwaan again. Yuh memba when Dave Kelly put out a riddim? All 15, 20 artiste deh pan it, when Shocking Vibes a put out a riddim, when Penthouse a put outta riddim?  Dat nuh gwaan again because every man have dem own producer and dem producer naw voice you if you an’ dah man deh nuh talk.  Dat is what killing Dancehall because Dancehall artiste is not together,” Dancehallmag quoted the Girl Dem Sugar singer as saying in Jamaican patois in a recent Onstage interview.

“Dat (juggling riddims) a come from King Jammys dem, from Jack Scorpio dem,” he added. “Suh weh yuh think Echo Minott and Admiral Bailey dem and Shabba Rankin dem and all a dem come through? Pan di juggling riddim. When yuh listen to a 80s jugglin riddim, yuh hear every man pan one riddim; yuh listen to a 90s jugglin yuh hear every man pan one riddim…”

Dancehallmag said that, in February last year, veteran Dancehall artist and music producer Red Rat had contended in an interview with DJ Kash that some veteran producers should shoulder responsibility for the decline in the number of the genre’s juggling riddims, “the production of which is now few and far between, as artists steer away towards solo beats.”

“Red Rat had argued that the music producers who were adept at the production of juggling riddims ought not to have stopped churning out the compilations, particularly since they were still in high demand by disc jockeys,” Dancehallmag said.

“I blame the producers that used to do it,” Red Rat said. “Why dem stop?  A Shams and a Dave Kelly and Tony Kelly.  Why did you all stop?  You shouldn’t stop because something new started. It should continue; I still do it.”

According to Dancehallmag, the former main street artist had contended that juggling riddims helped artists to use up their creativity, and pointed out that “back in the day, artists and producers would cooperate to ensure that no two songs on any beat sounded similar, as artists would not mind their compatriots listening to what they had already voiced.”

Dancehallmag said the pattern for juggling riddims was set in Jamaica with the Sleng Teng riddim after producer King Jammy, following the reception to Wayne Smith’s “Under Mi Sleng Teng,” recorded “a slew of singers and deejays on the iconic beat before other producers could make knock-off versions of the riddim, as was the trend then.”

“Over the decades, juggling riddims became responsible for a slew of crossover hits, among them, Beenie Man’s ‘Who Am I (Simma)’ and ‘Girls Dem Sugar’, Tanto Metro and Devonte’s ‘Everyone falls in Love Sometime’, Sean Paul’s ‘Like Glue’ and ‘Gimme Di Light’, and Wayne Wonder’s ‘No Letting Go’”, Dancehallmag said.

It said one of the last explosive riddims, which attracted many of Dancehall’s hottest artists and had “a slew of hits” was “Overproof”.

That beat, created by producers Justus Arison and the late Patrick “Roach” Samuels of JA Productions, featured songs from 25 singers and deejays, among them Mavado with “Settle Down”, Konshens with “Bad Gyal” and Khago’s “Tun Up Di Ting”, Dancehallmag said.

It said that, in 2020, Montego Bay-based producer Zum featureed Dancehall stars, including Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Dexta Daps, Elephant Man, Konshens, Shenseea, Jahmiel and I-Octane on his Good Good Productions’ Liquid Sunshine juggling riddim.

Dancehallmag said the riddim, which featured 19 tracks, had relative success with the top song being Dexta Daps’ “Call Me If”.

“However, most of the songs contained sexually explicit material and expletives, which may have hampered its success, since they could not be played in all public spaces,” it said. “That riddim, nevertheless, erased barriers as it was the first time since 2015 that Vybz Kartel and Mavado were featured on the same production.”

Prior to that, Dancehallmag said Zum “had seen massive success” his Money Mix juggling riddim in 2017, “which gave Dancehall fans a string of hits, the biggest of which was Masicka’s hit track ‘10 Outta 10’, followed by Yanique Curvy Diva’s ‘Lifestyle’ and D’Angel and Spice’s ‘No Worries’”.

Dancehallmage said it also featured Vybz Kartel’s “Poco Man Skank”, Mavado’s “Fresh Cash” and Shenseea’s “Wine”.