Behind the Beenie Man Shutdown



Maybe Beenie Man wasn’t the best choice for an AIDS benefit. The reggae dancehall star was to have anchored a concert for LIFEbeat and the Music Industry Fights AIDS. Yesterday the producers of Reggae Gold Live 2006 Summer Jumpoff, set for July 18, canceled the show. They cited protests by gay activists over the appearance of Beenie Man, pictured, in particular.

The show’s organizers said they feared a “possibility of violence at the concert from the firestorm incited by a select group of activists.”

In Beenie Man’s native Jamaica, it’s more often LGBTs who’ve had reason to be afraid. Last year, Elena Oumano reported for the Voice on the movement to shut down reggae artists whose lyrics activists say openly advocate the killing of gay men and lesbians. Beenie Man’s hits have included lines that would seem to cheer the lynching of sexual minorities, including this one: “Hang chi-chi gal wid a long piece a rope.”

Here’s what Beenie Man told Oumano about his work:

“A lot of guys come into the ghetto and influence little boys with clothes and shoes and them things, then molest them,” says Beenie Man, who claims his lyrics target child abusers only. “I man nah response fi who you want, as long as him a big man. It’s all about the youth.”