STAR of the Month: Beenie Man - King of Fashion
At any major performance, fans can expect that Beenie Man will show up in a three-piece tailored suit or an on-trend sartorial ensemble. This veteran's style cues come from a 'taller' time, going all the way back to the beginnings of his career as a child star in the '80s.
"Me is a man weh like vest and pants and shirt. Mi like dress up. You have to look the part - you want to be an artiste, you have to dress like an artiste. You have to get your thing tailored. As an artiste, you have to do different from everybody else. You can't do like the man weh a fix mic. Dat nuh mek nuh sense," Beenie Man told The Star.
His elders, the men who regularly clashed over sound systems at Lee's Unlimited, a past recurring session held at the former Goodyear factory in St Thomas, became a benchmark for a young, impressionable Beenie Man.
"Dem man deh have on some pants with belly-band and shirt put down in yasso - tuxedo and tuxedo tie and bere tings - well swags!"
The aspiring deejay digested those visual cues and sought to match the swagger of his elders. "Suh mi wah look suh! But how yuh ah guh look suh? Yuh cyaa tief people clothes - 'cause dem ah run yuh down and chop yuh. So you have to find the hustling."
Winnings from Beenie Man's career-propelling win in the Tastee Talent Competition in 1981 afforded the aspiring deejay the means with which to expand his then-meagre wardrobe. "When mi win the Tastee's now, mi have the money - mi guh downtown and buy the pants them," he told The Star.
However, the shopping spree for the future 'King of the Dancehall' was a bit more complicated than just buying some pants.
"People might check seh a true me small mek mi name Beenie Man - dem nuh know a true mi inquisitive and faas. Mi grandfather call me suh, because I was a very inquisitive kid. Mi ask the biggest and the oldest questions. Dem always seh me is a big man trapped in a likkle bwoy body.
Suh him call me Beenie Man. But the name fit, because mi features small - very likkle. Mi never name Papa Dean, Father Anthony, Puppa Moses - Beenie Man mi name from start," the Star of The Month revealed.
Still, the aspiring toaster, a small-bodied boy with a 'big man' personality, needed a wardrobe that compared to the suits of the older performers he challenged. "Because me did suh small, mi couldn't find nuttin fi fit me. So if me walk go into a store, not even the kiddie's part mi coulda find a pants fi put on," the Tear Off Mi Garment singer said.
Instead, Beenie Man had to buy 'pants-length' and 'shirt-cloth' to have his outfits tailored to fit. To this day, the practise has stuck with the stalwart dancehall performer. "You have to do that - even Gucci mi guh to make clothes, even Versace. It's a little bit more expensive, but ah your suit. When you put it on, it cyaa fit nobody else, and nobody can say 'mi have one like that'."