MTV cancels Beenie Man appearance after gay activists protest
August 26 2004 11:00 PM ET
Dancehall star Beenie Man, who has recorded antigay songs in the past, was yanked from a concert associated with the MTV Video Music Awards this weekend after gay groups planned a protest, the network said Wednesday. MTV pulled the Jamaican singer from the roster Tuesday after Florida gay activists announced plans to protest Saturday's concert in Miami over some of his past lyrics, including "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays'' and "Queers must be killed.'' "We don't want anything to overshadow what will be a great weekend of music events for South Floridians,'' MTV spokeswoman Marnie Black said Wednesday. She declined further comment. The awards show is Sunday at the bay-front American Airlines Arena in Miami, the first time in the glam-filled event's 21-year history that it will take place outside New York and Los Angeles.
Beenie Man has had his concerts canceled in Europe over the last few weeks after angry gay groups protested. Although he has previously defended his lyrics, earlier this month Beenie Man issued an apology for his previous songs, including "Bad Man Chi Chi Man [Bad Man, Queer Man]." "Certain lyrics and recordings I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own.... I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened, or hurt by my songs.'' Other stars of dancehall--a sensuous, more contemporary form of reggae--have been targeted by gay groups because of antigay lyrics, including Buju Banton. Beenie Man's manager, Clyde McKenzie, said, "In many instances the lyrics of dancehall artists are metaphorical. He has made it clear that he doesn't want to incite violence,'' he said of Beenie Man. He said he understood MTV's actions. "If their organization is being pressured, they may not want anything to be distracting from their event,'' he said.
Heddy Peña, executive director of the protest organizers, Miami-based gay rights group Save Dade, said, "We respectfully suggest that he use other metaphors. It's disappointing to see artists use their talents as a tool for hatred and bigotry,'' she said. Beenie Man told the Miami Herald on Sunday that "I just smile, because I don't know what they're fussing about. I'm not here to cuss people. I make music. But at the same time, I just want to teach people--my sons and my daughters--the right way of life,'' he said. Beenie Man was not available for comment Wednesday, his publicist said. Beenie Man, born Anthony Moses Davis, is on a world tour promoting his new album, Back to Basics. His songs include his recent hit, "Dude,'' "Girls Dem Sugar'' and "Who Am I?'' His album Art and Life won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2001. He ends his tour in Miami on November 8.