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Clashes are an integral part of Dancehall culture. From the beginning of Dancehall in the 1980s, Dancehall deejays have showcased their lyrical potency by going toe to toe in lyrical battles. Two of the most popular clashes are Beenie Man versus Bounty Killer and Vybz Kartel versus Mavado. Dancehall has seen a shift over the last four years where a new subgenre has emerged. Trap Dancehall began in 2016 and has become quite popular among the new generation of dancehall artistes. This subgenre fuses hip hop beats with dancehall lyrics. This form of music is not necessarily focused on lyricism but is preoccupied with portraying a luxurious lifestyle often achieved by illegal means. Many Jamaicans disapprove of this subgenre and believe it to be a reflection of the decline of Dancehall. So, it is refreshing to see lyrical versatility being highlighted in Dancehall once more with the most recent clash between Chronic Law and Jahmiel.
Chronic Law and Jahmiel are both relatively new Dancehall artistes. Chronic Law is a member of the popular group 6ix, which includes himself, Squash (6ix Boss) and Daddy1. This group is closely associated with one of dancehall’s most dominant group, Gaza, lead by popular deejay Vybz Kartel. For the past few months 6ix, and to an extent Gaza, have been feuding with MVP. MVP is another dancehall group that includes Mavado, Alkaline and Jahmiel. This feud presumably stems from the Gully vs Gaza feud from several years ago. From August to September 2019, both Squash and Alkaline engaged in a lyrical dispute that left many fans disappointed at the mediocrity of this contest in comparison to previous clashes. Thus, many persons had low expectations for what can be referred to as round 2 between Jahmiel and Chronic Law. However, both artistes have exceeded the expectations of fans and have left social media in an ongoing debate about who is the victor.
A battle of lyrical machismo between Jahmiel and Chronic Law has been a much needed distraction from the horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past week the two have exchanged a series of threats, mockery and character assassination through their songs as they counteract each other’s claims. On the 13th of April, Jahmiel released a song entitled “Dead Xample”. He presumably takes jabs at Chronic Law by making reference to a famous line from one of Law’s greatest hits, “Government”, where he states, “Gun pon belly, di beretta neva lef”. Jahmiel counteracts this line by saying, “No mek yuh little one strap fool yuh…A nuff bwoy dead with cut pon dem belly”. In true dancehall clash style, Chronic Law swiftly responded to Jahmiel’s attack with “Pree”. He reiterates his ‘badness’ and makes it clear he is not afraid to go to war.
The lyrical battle, accompanied by social media arguments between the two groups and their fanbases, continued a few days after when Jahmiel released “357”.
Being more popularly known for his socially conscious and romantic songs, Jahmiel left many in shock with his lyrical potency in “357” as he counteracts several lines from Chronic Law’s “Pree”. He created humor by referring to Law as “Humpty Dumpty”, a reference to his physical appearance. He also refutes Law’s claims that he “walk[s] with knife blade rub up with garlic”. Jahmiel dismisses this by saying, “Garlic only touch yuh knife when dem a cook”.
The verbal warfare continued with the release of Chronic Law’s song “Relevant”
He discredits Jahmiel by referring to his alias, Great Man, by stating, “Anuh great man a waste man”. He continues his verbal assault throughout the song by implying that Jahmiel, along with the other members of MVP, continuously incite beef with the 6ix to remain relevant.
Jahmiel kicks things up a knotch and gets a lot more personal with his counteraction song “Chip Glock”.
With a steady flow, Jahmiel refers to Law by his government name “Akeeme Campbell”. Referring to someone by their formal name, especially in a feud, is often perceived as showcasing bravery and an indication that one is not afraid to get real personal. Jahmiel discredits Chronic Law as a good lyricist by stating that law uses “bare similes” in his songs. Jahmiel had social media in a frenzy with his line, “Cyaa hype pon me, mi know bout yuh rape case”. Lines like these are what creates a spectacle in dancehall clashes, keeping fans at the edge of their seats awaiting the response of the other artiste.
The wait was not long as Chronic Law did not hesitate to dismiss Jahmiel’s accusations of rape charges in “Talk Facts”.
He states, “F**kry dem a talk, tell dem fi talk facts”. Law implies throughout his song that Jahmiel is fabricating stories and implores him to speak the truth. He rebuts the rape accusations by saying, “Yallahs to Bull Bay know wah we charge fa”. He expresses that he has murder charges, not rape charges. He continues to attack Jahmiel by referring to him as a rasta “ina frock”. Law metaphorically ascribes female attributes to Jahmiel, in other words he called him a sissy or ‘maama man’ in Jamaican terms. The popular opinion on Instagram and Twitter is that Chronic Law defeated Jahmiel with this song.
Like any formidable opponent, Jahmiel did not throw in the towel and released “Quaran Kill”.
The cover art of the song drew the most attention as it features Law wearing a female underwear as a mask. Jahmiel cleverly incorporates current affairs, Corona Virus and quarantine, in this cover art while implying that Law partakes in cunninlingus and refers to him as “chaw jaws” in the opening line. Many believe that the cover art is just about the only thing impressive about Jahmiel’s response as the song was subpar. However, some fans believe that he is leading the battle so far. Jahmiel also took shots at Vybz Kartel in this song. Now the question on the minds of many is will Vybz Kartel take the bait?
Chronic Law apparently closes out the clash and seals his assumed victory with “School Dem”.
Law implies that Jahmiel is a child that needs to be schooled as his brain is “lazy” and lyrically he is no match for him. He states, “Suicide you a do and dem a seh a bravery”, highlighting that challenging him is a suicide mission and not an act of bravery as his lyrics are lethal. Chronic Law shifts between different flows as he proves his versatility, “Mi change di style a bit fi who seh Chronic n’ave nuh dynamic”. He also mentions that Jahmiel needs a new writer so his songs can be more up to par. Law defends 6ix and Gaza with the line, “6ix and Gaza different type a species/ Yow, some bwoy a faeces”. At the end of the song he says, “Flawless victory/ Lyrics over gimmicks”, seemingly proclaiming his own victory.
However, once again Jahmiel proves that he should not be counted out. As I was about to wrap up this article, he released “Teach Dem Again”.
He counteracts Chronic Law’s argument that he needs to he schooled with, “Dem cyaa school we, dem a f**king dunce”. Jahmiel continues to show that he is a worthy opponent and can go bar for bar with Chronic Law. Continuing the trend of an onslaught of violent images and threats of murder, which have pervaded this clash, Jahmiel insists on his bravery and speaks highly of his ‘badness’. He also insists that the rape accusations were not fabricated. Was this a good comeback or was Chronic Law right to have already proclaimed his victory?
An interesting battle of wits, metaphors, puns and punchlines, proving that lyricism still exists in Dancehall music. Both proving to be formidable opponents for each other and excellent deejays. It is difficult to determine who is the winner. Like many clashes before, it will be a never ending debate of opinions of who won. But the real question is whether or not this battle is over. Will Chronic Law respond to Jahmiel or retreat in defeat?