Ever since the hey days of dancehall there were disses, artists like Bounty Killer and Beenie Man from Jamaica thrived on these. In Jamaica, dancehall was actually at peak and commanding the world’s attention during the days of Gully, led by Mavado VS Gaza led by the now incarcerated deejay Vybz Kartel. But does the diss culture still matter in the dancehall circles?
Some have branded the Gaza VS Gully a reggae civil war, taking it away from just being a beef between artists but a war between two movements. Jamaica celebrated (and still does) lyrical warfare through shows like Sting were the most controversial rivals of the year face each other as the year ends, on the stage for a show off of superiority!
This culture like most of the Jamaican dancehall cultures have been adopted at home in Africa and Zimbabwe in particular. With the birth of the Zimdancehall genre, a localized form of dancehall by Zimbabwean artists, in the early 2000s saw the rise of disses among the artists of that time.
One such beef that carried weight and was the talk of the time was between Winky D and the late Daddy D, while Winky D was also clashing with King Labash.
This beef resulted in a war lyrically filled songs such as Dead Inna War by Winky D. Winky was later to be crowned King of Zimdancehall at an event held in 2009 at the Harare Gardens.
Even though artists like Winky D seem to have moved on from the ‘diss culture’ young artists who are finding their way into the genre still depend on it to provide theme with relevance.
Seh Calaz is one such artist who gained attention after he became the first radio played chanter to throw shade at Winky D. After releasing a reply to Winky D’s song ‘Mafira Kureva‘ of the same year, 2013, Seh Calaz has become one of the sought after Zimdancehall brands.
Do Disses Still Matter in Dancehall?
I am going to say it depends! Even though Zimdancehall was born at a time when the diss culture was at peak in Jamaica and the world, the impact a beef had those days and today differs.
Back then dancehall was more than just a musical genre, that most dictionaries today still fail to acknowledge, it was a culture. It represented a way of life among the forgotten community of different societies especially coming from the ghetto. Dancehall was born from the Grandfather of most Jamaican genres, Reggae. It quickly became another way to fill the day.
However this trend has reached its peak and is definitely declining. Dancehall is becoming a genre among others. The culture aspect were you could identify a dancehall lover by the way he/she talked, dressed and their playlist is slowly dying.
I remember back in the days my brothers were known for having the best cds, it was before memory cards kids, or whatever technology you have these days, we had a local guy who burned/pirated music and they always picked the best songs for that mp3, and mp3 back then was an audio cd with files! We would exchange these cds and it was part of the culture, songs were debated when we met and he who had the latest was the king!
In this age of WhatsApp and the great internet, songs are easily lost in the sea filled with many other unknown artist files.
The weight a diss would carry those days was far greater than it does now. The fact that songs can easily miss you, the fact that you cant keep up with all the songs dropping each day, the fact that artists no longer have the real power to control conversation and the fact that new camps such as the old Gaza and Gully cant last longer, are all threats to the culture.
Our world is now filled with a lot of information to really care about a diss, the western culture is taking over. The selfie age were time is better spent on Instagram than discussing Platinum Prince‘s latest diss, is the reason disses don’t really matter now.
If a diss doesn’t steer any controversy and cause people to talk it becomes a miss and thats whats happening with most, they are misses.
If it was for little me to give a judgement I would say if a diss is not well calculated, its actually a waste of time. Your audience these days is moving faster than you can drop the next song.
You can still make a career throwing shade at other artists as long as you have the tools to make people talk and you can still be a good artist without a diss record, your choice.
The discussion should not end with a full stop! Comment below with your thoughts on this matter.
Please note that this is an opinion piece and views expressed are of the author and not DancehallAfrika. To submit your own articles please email [email protected] or App +263738431093