King Beenie Man gets hometown salute - Artiste says Ghetto Splash honour is special
If the stories he told on stage were anything to go by, Beenie Man undoubtedly has a special place in his heart for his Drewsland, St Andrew, community, and its flagship event, Ghetto Splash.
On a night when he was honoured for a mainstay on the show's line-up for 30 years, the King of the Dancehall expressed joy to be able to come full circle in front of his home crowd.
"Me a one a di first deejay pan Ghetto Splash," Beenie Man said during his performance on Wednesday morning.
"A me take it from Craig Town (also in St Andrew) and carry it come a Drewsland school. A Drewsland Primary School me go, a my school dat. Me run up and dung pan dah playfield deh. Me coulda be anything. Me coulda be the baddest, notorious gunman, me coulda be the biggest pickpocket, me coulda be the baddest thief, but me chose to be me," he said.
Family was poor
According to Beenie Man, he only realised that his family was poor after he realised that he only had one pair of shoes and one of his neighbours had two. He was about eight years old at the time.
Now 46, Beenie Man began his ascent in the music business after he won the Tastee Talent show in 1981 at the age of nine.
He told the Ghetto Splash audience on Wednesday that the prize money was the furthest thing from his mind. His motivation, he said, was "The one year supply of patty weh me coulda sell outta Drewsland gate" so he could "make some money and buy a shoes".
"Me never know say me did affi go pan Ring Ding and Where It's At."
Wednesday night, thousands of persons, many from Drewsland, Waterhouse, and similarly tough inner-city communities joined in saluting the musical doctor as he was honoured for his contribution to the free concert.
"Me always expect to be honoured because when you doing great work that is what happens. It's great to still be alive and to still be making music and to still be relevant, so yuh see dis, right here in front of my people, in my place, it special," Beenie Man told THE STAR.
But the night was not all about the Girls Dem Sugar artiste. Top acts such as Sean Paul, Shaggy, Munga, Popcaan, Capleton, Tarrus Riley, I-Octane, D Angel, Kemar Highcon and Jahvillani graced the stage, much to the delight of the appreciative crowd.
"This show is for the people and that is what makes it special. When you come to this event, once I'm here every artiste turn up, yuh never know who yuh getting. Tonight yuh get Sean Paul and Shaggy, one time for free. Where else yuh can go get dat," he questioned. "Me affi give thanks to those who come out and show the event support over and over throughout the years, I personally appreciate it," Beenie Man said.