Updated: May 25
It's been less than 24 hours since the world experienced what has been dubbed as the best Instagram sound clash. If you're familiar with dancehall, your expectations were high and if you're like us, your expectations were exceeded.
There has been so much coverage on the epic #Verzuz battle between #dancehall#reggae artists Beenie Man and Bounty Killer...it was highly anticipated and in the words of Beenie "muchly" received. Other reviews may focus on the particulars of the performance and who was the better opponent. I can't help but still be in my feelings, because that's where I was for the full show...in my feelings.
For the full two hours of the livestream, I forgot that I was in my oversized University of Houston #whosehouse PJ pants and house slippers. In my mind, I was at Reggae Sumfest 2006, only this time in VIP. I could nearly smell the white rum and green grass. The memories that flooded my heart and the way that my body naturally moved to each beat is why I Love Being Caribbean. The uncontrollable urge I had to wave a flag and bust an invisible gun shot (despite the fact that my hand has never touched an actual gun) is why I Love Being Caribbean. The uninhibited and unadulterated reaction I have when I hear my music, smell my foods or see my people thriving is why I Love Being Caribbean.
I understand that there were some mixed feelings and controversy surrounding how this event came to be. I don't consider myself an expert on reggae music culture and in comparison to my husband who is an encyclopedia for reggae music and history, I know very little. I don't get into the politics of music and outside of Beres Hammond, don't have an emotional allegiance to any one artist. I don't know every word to the Jamaican National Anthem, I have no accent, can cook no dish and absolutely look like "mi come from foreign" when I go home to the Land I Love, but to me it's still the place I call home and the roots of my being.
As a disclaimer, I am the person who finds the lesson in everything. I can't let a movie, life event and apparently a free virtual concert pass without finding the lesson. The pride that the collective Caribbean diaspora felt last night and woke up with today is how the idea of I Love Being Caribbean was envisioned by its founder (my partner in business and life) in 2012. The greatness that exists in the Caribbean takes a world stage in music, track & field and cuisine. We have set trends and possess inherent talents that others search their whole lives to develop. 500,000 people tuned in on the Verzuz Instagram last night and who knows how many thousand via virtual watch parties. Second after second, celebrities in and out of the Caribbean community logged on and commented...Missy Elliot, Robyn "Rihanna" Fenty, Usain Bolt, Puff Daddy and even Jamaica's Prime Minister, Andrew Holness to name a few. The epic event prompted even CNN to respond.
So here's my lesson. Last night was not only legendary, it was symbolic. It was indicative of what we're capable of when we do what we love, unite and support each other. Both the War Lord and King of Dancehall vibed and danced without a care in the world. It also shows what happens when we unite. When we unite, we win. Last night may have been a clash between famed former opponents, but the Culture definitely won. My hope is that we, as a Community, not only felt the vibes, but felt the lesson. We aren't each other's opponents. When we do what we love, support each other and unite in authentic love for our Culture, we all win.
Sherry B. aka Mrs. iLBC firstname.lastname@example.org