The toast of dancehall, 2001...
In the murky and suitably underground world of dancehall reggae,
the beat seldom stays the same.
Such has been the speed of beat-mutation, thanks to computer technology, that the music is barely recognisable as a descendant of its ‘90s equivalent. And a youth from Seaview, Kingston – protégé of Bounty Killer and former member of the infamous Scare Dem Crew – is 2001’s dancehall cause célèbre.
Elephant Man’s edge over the fierce DJ/toaster competition is apparent in his dedication to the art of verbal warfare. It’s also crucial to note how current hip-hop attitudes have been put to the service of the dancehall.
Thus, Elephant Man speaks of playa haters (‘Haters Wanna War’), throws down challenges and threats (‘Yuh A War’), and boasts
of jewellery, fast cars and an outrageous sexual prowess (‘They Call Me’). There are no cultural-roots reflections or Rastafarian pieties here, and social comment is at best, understated – it’s all nihilism and sex.
A jarring surprise comes in the shape of ‘The Bombing’, though,
in which Elephant Man tackles the events of September 11. He offers condolences to the bereaved, namechecks Bush ([I]‘’doesn’t trust no guy’’[/I]) and bin Laden ([I]”will be trampled’’[/I]), and points out that shady business carries on as usual – in the dancehall, even in the shadow of World War Three.
Topical to the max.