In a new video, Jamaican reggae artist Beenie Man says he respects “each and every human being” regardless of their sexual orientation. The video is a response of sorts to the global protests against his music and concerts that resulted from years of the artist writing and performing songs calling for the murder of gay people.
In the video below, Beenie Man says "Let me make this clear and straight. I have nothing against no one. I respect each and every human being, regardless of which race or creed, regardless of which religious belief you believe in, and regardless of which sexual preference you are, including gay and lesbian people.”
He continues, saying "I love each and every one and am just begging each and every one to do the same... Do not fight against me for some song that I sing twenty years ago. There’s no one in this world that’s the same person as though they were twenty years ago. You know, I’m not, you understand. So, I was a kid, yeah, and I come from one house and one community, I never knew what the world is like and what the world is all about. Now I know that people live in the world that live their life differently than my life, I still have to respect and love human beings.”
The phrase “twenty years ago” isn’t quite accurate, as it was on a 2004 album that he wrote lyrics calling for the hanging of lesbians (“Hang chi-chi gal wid a long piece a rope”) and for the shooting of gay men (“tek a bazooka den shot batty f*cka”). “Chi-chi gal” and “batty” are slang for lesbian and gay, respectively.
Unfortunately Beenie Man is one of several artists in the genre that have used their music to spread messages of hate. In 2010, the same year that GLAAD called for the protest of Beenie Man’s concert in New York City, GLAAD also partnered with the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and 20 other organizations asking the Recording Academy’s acting President to speak out against the lyrics of reggae artist Buju Banton who had recently been nominated for a Grammy.
While this isn’t exactly an apology for whatever damage his music may have caused in the past, at the very least it acknowledges that his view of people and the world has changed as he’s gotten older and promotes a message of respect and understanding. It’s a good example to set for his musical peers and fans, and definitely a step in the right direction. If he truly means what he says, he’ll stop performing his songs that call for violence against the LGBT community, regardless of how long ago he wrote them.