Island Vibez

BEENIE MAN

Reggae Revival

Kingston, Jamaica

One of Jamaica’s biggest exports, Beenie Man‘s recording career stretches back to 1981, although it was in the sound systems where he later made his mark. The witty toaster began his true ascent to stardom in the early ’90s, and by 1994, his reputation couldn’t be beat. Beenie Man was born Moses Davis in the tough Waterhouse district of Kingston, Jamaica, on August 22, 1973. By the time he was ready for school, the toddler had already decided on a career as a DJ. He wasn’t the first tot with dreams of the limelight, but Beenie actually had a true gift for gab. His shot at stardom came when he was only eight, when he took first prize at the national Teeny Talent contest. This led to a meeting with producer Junjo Lawes, who recorded the diminutive DJ’s debut single, “Too Fancy.” Bunny Lee then took the boy under his wing and put him to work at his Unlimited sound system.

By 1983, the youngster found himself appearing on LawesJunjo Presents Two Big Sound, which was recorded live and featured such DJ heavyweights as Dillinger and Fathead. Along with Unlimited, Beenie was also DJ’ing at Prince Jammy‘s Volcano sound system, had a hit single to his credit, “Over the Sea,” produced by Niney Holness, and even had a debut album out. Produced by Lee, The Invincible Beenie Man, the 10 Year Old DJ Wonder’s title pretty much summed it all up. He recorded some songs with Barrington Levy in 1984, two of which, “Under Mi Sensi” and “Two Sounds,” would resurface in remixed form later in the ’90s. But for the moment, his recording career came virtually to a close, bar the occasional single. But the young DJ remained a sound system favorite, even as he now turned his attention to his schoolwork.

1996 was his breakout year, when his and Chevelle Franklin‘s “Dance Hall Queen” bounced up the national chart. Both that single and its follow-up, “Who Am I,” were number ones back at home, while the latter rocketed its way into the U.K. Top Ten and the Billboard Top 50 “Oysters & Conch” and “Foundation.”

Beenie co-wrote and starred in the film Kingston in 2008 and continued to release singles like “Drinking Rum and Red Bull” (2010), “Let’s Go” (2011), “Wine Gal” (2012), and “Thug Love” (2013). In 2015, he lent his talents to tracks by Teddybears (“Broken Heartbeat”) and Rihanna (“Bitch Better Have My Money”). He returned in 2016 with Unstoppable, his first LP in a decade. The effort featured appearances by Akon and Bounty Killer, as well as production by Major Lazer.

Artist Channels:

Back to Lineup