Mr. Cee Says Squash The Beef
Aug 17th, 2009
A Hip Hop Legend says “Caribbean Music Can Be A Monster,” However…
I got a chance to reason with a Hip Hop Legend last Friday, the one and only Mr. Cee. Depending on the depth of your knowledge of hip hop culture, you may know Cee as Big Daddy Kane’s DJ, or as the man who recorded the demo tape that got Biggie Smalls his deal with Puff Daddy. Or you may just know him as the influential radio personality at New York’s #1 radio station, Hot 97 FM. Besides playing great hip hop and R&B, Cee has been influential in helping break many dancehall records on the international market. Hot 97 plays more reggae than most of the urban format stations in America. So I had to ask him the $64,000 question:
You were involved in hip hop before it was a major major money industry. Do you feel like reggae can ever reach that same level of prosperity internationally? It seems like it always stays in the grassroots and in the underground moreso than rap.
AND THIS IS WHAT HE SAID. “I know that reggae probably can be just as lucrative or just as successful as hip hop is, or maybe even beyond. I know that it could. But the one thing that’s the biggest downfall for reggae right now…
…and it’s been the downfall for the longest time—is these artists not getting along with each other, and these artists not doing enough with one another to lift each other up and help each other out, to take the music to the next next level. If they was to work together a little bit more, do more collaborations with each other a little bit more, and just lift each other up a little bit more, piggyback off each other a little bit more, Caribbean music can be a monster.
I love Mavado and I love Kartel, but for those two guys to be at the top of the game right now and for them to be going through what they’re going through, it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t help the overall upfliftment of what the Caribbean scene could be.
You know, I spoke to Mavado’s manager a couple of weeks ago on the email and I said, “Yo, even Jay-Z and Nas squashed their beef.” I just threw that line at him through the email just so that maybe he can talk to Mavado. Just kind of, you know, throw those words out there so maybe something can be worked out. Now I’m not trying to be a peacemaker. But I know that’s always been the downfall of Caribbean music since I’ve been dealing with it. The artists don’t get along with each other, the promoters don’t get along with each other, the Djs don’t get along with each other. It’s worse than hip hop—and hip hop is bad—but it’s worse than hip hop.
But one thing I will say that the Caribbean artists have over the hip hop artists is this: Beenie Man and Bounty Killer can be on the same show and they’re not going to go to blows with each other. 50 Cent and Rick Ross—you can’t put them on the same show. You know what I mean? The Caribbean artists at least have some type of sanity to them going at each other. But if they was to work together a little bit more, do more collaborations with each other a little bit more, and just lift each other up a little ebit more, piggyback off each other a little bit more, Caribbean music can be a monster.
That is such a big point that you made, and I hate to even conjure up the spirit of your good bredren—but having gone through seeing what happened with B.I.G. and Pac—does that influence your thoughts on what’s happening in reggae right now?
Of course it does. Of course it does. And that’s why I won’t feed into what Mavado says about Kartel, and I won’t feed into what Kartel says about Mavado. Of course it does because at any given time… Is Mavado gonna do something to Kartel? No. Is Kartel gonna physically do something to Mavado? No. But both of them got entourages and both of them got people that—their man’s man’s man—you know what I mean? And you just never know the next man’s intention, of when somebody may take action on the other person just because they wanna show that they a rider, or that they’re gonna ride or die for their brother. And so on and soforth. So that’s what scares me about the whole situation that’s going on now between Gully and Gaza. You know what I mean? It’s just crazy to me. And it’s so much money to be made out there. And there’s so much prosperity and so much uplift that these artists can give to their country if they was to be a little bit more accessible to each other.
Alright so first and foremost big up Mr. Cee on his achievements but this peeved me. First off why ask him like he's qualified to answer that question. I mean I'm not gonna front, I have asked an artist a question people didn't feel the artist had the right to speak on but I have my reason for asking Asher Roth if he thinks the writing is on the wall for gangsta rap. He reps the new breed who buck the trend.
Anyway, little off-topic there. Back to the matter at hand, Mr Cee, well done for taking notice of what's going on in the dancehall genre, but I think you're wrong. How can beef in the industry stop them progressing on a commercial level? Dancehall is still quite a niche market, therefore if you play a random Mavado or Vybz Kartel record on commercial radio, most won't know about their beef.
I know Hot 97 and Mr Cee play a lot of dancehall tracks, but still in 09 many programmers are scared to play dancehall even if it is a heater, yet a Hip Hop or R&B song can get less response but it would get spins. Shouts to 1Xtra over here but certain other stations have the choice but don't play them. I take his comment that the beef can be bad and friends of the artists can take it further, but on a musical level I disagree.
Going closer to home, I don't have the greatest knowledge of the ins-and-outs of dancehall/reggae music as a whole but in my experience and from what I have got to understand through speaking to others is the people in the dancehall industry aren't very professional. That's the biggest problem!
With a little help from the words of Mr Cee's friend the late Notorious BIG, "If you don't know now you know!"
That isn't the whole solution to the problem; culture clash from Jamaica to America, image and marketing, VISAs, lack of labels, buyers/support at grassroots apart from concert attendance in Jamaica, language/dialect barrier, lack of real concern when it comes to subject matter (I love that it's so rebellious) etc.
To be honest, my wish is for the artists, producers, managers and them to make a money, but I really wouldn't want it to go commercial like Hip Hop. Hip Hop and R&B in recent times have both produced a lot of music with not much substance, with most artists replicating what's hot. In Dancehall they have what they have and do it for the real fans who appreciate the music rather than buyers who are into it because it's cool. In my opinion, Dancehall is the least diluted form of English-speaking black/urban music in the world and I think it needs to be preserved.
And on a related note, I can't believe with the information at hand, why the hell do dancehall songs take so long to buss in England? Flamin' 'eck you DJ's are so slow. May have to change that