Katt Williams certainly set the tone for 2024. Less than a week after the Emmy-winning comedian fired shots at peers such as Rickey Smiley and Tyler Perry on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast, two of contemporary dancehall’s leading ladies launched their own lyrical battle.
Funnily enough, the two major January dancehall clashes — Jada Kingdom v. Stefflon Don and Teejay v. Valiant — center around the two biggest dancehall crossover smashes of 2023: Teejay & DJ Mac’s “Drift” and Byron Messia & Burna Boy‘s “Talibans II.” Thankfully, both clashes were kept on wax, as all artists involved participated in the battles for fans’ entertainment and the greater dancehall culture over anything else.
“This is dancehall music, and once it is [a] lyrical battle, I am down for it,” Teejay told DancehallMag. “Nothing violent; nothing out of the studio, nothing outrageous… just music, and if it seems like it’s getting too far, I will definitely wrap this up, because you know we have to get back to the money at times— that’s the bigger picture… for now, we have to just entertain people but nothing serious. I don’t know about the next side, but on my side I am positively sure that it is just music.”
While the hip-hop world is frenzied with haphazard rap beefs peppered with days of spiraling in lieu of actual good music, dancehall’s clash culture is still going strong and further emphasizing the global reach of this iteration of the genre — especially considering how much these battles dominated online conversations in January. If you’re not already familiar with the details, here’s a primer on both of them.
Jada Kingdom v. Stefflon Don
As the old saying goes: Think of the messiest person you know. It’s a man, ain’t it?
At the eye of the hurricane that was Jada Kingdom and Stefflon Don’s five-song clash lies Grammy-winning Afrobeats crossover star Burna Boy. The “Last Last” singer is an ex of Stefflon Don’s, and once pictures of Jada and him started making the rounds on social media, tensions began to rise. Before the ladies took it to the booth, Steff threw some vague Instagram Story shade that she later clarified as directed towards her former managers. The “Hurtin Me” singer would soon throw more shade that eventually sparked the first track in her clash with Kingdom.
Before that moment, however, Burna’s remix of Byron Messia’s breakout hit, “Talibans,” hit the airwaves. In verse three of the song — which hit No. 99 on the Billboard Hot 100 — Burna croons, “All of the best pumpum deh yah Kingston/ So me buy a Birkin fi Jada Kingdom.” Burna wasn’t just bragging about his new fling; the line is also a play on the “You gon need a Birkin if you wanna show me off” lyric from Jada’s “Turn Me On” (with The 9ine).
By autumn, Jada — also known as Twinkle — was seen with Pardison Fontaine, Grammy-winning songwriter and former beau of Megan Thee Stallion. But with the rumor mill swirling about a December reconciliation between Steff and Burna, the timeline between the two flings started to look a bit funky.
Naturally, months of tension gave way to Steff putting her feelings to wax. At the top of the new year, the award-winning Brit shared a teaser of a new song on Rvssian’s “Dutty Money” riddim, in which she threatens to “box” an unspecified woman who messed with her man. In total bad gyal realness, Jada not only confirmed a casual fling with Burna Boy, but she also pressed Steff to clarify just who was going to get boxed. After a bit more back and forth, Steff’s “Dat a Dat” arrived and the clash ensued, eventually ending after two tracks from Jada and three from Steff.
“For everyone who’s saying ‘war start’, war jus done! Well, for me that is,” Jada Kingdom wrote in an Instagram Story (Jan. 9). “I’m in a happy and healthy relationship now, I won’t be prolonging this nonsense.”
Teejay v. Valiant
Teejay & DJ Mac’s “Drift” was one of the defining global hits of 2023 — and debate over which artist is more responsible for the song’s success is the basis of this clash. During an Instagram Live a few months ago, Teejay blasted Mac for allegedly trying to swindle Panda out of production credits on the hit song.
On his October DJ Mac-produced “Beer & Salt” single — which was featured on that month’s Reggae/Dancehall Fresh Picks column — Valiant jabbed, “Mac them a link when them can’t find a hit song,” a clear hit at Teejay, who recently repped dancehall on one of Billboard‘s five Genre Now cover stories this month (Jan. 10). In a Jan. 14 interview on the Let’s Be Honest podcast hosted by Jaii Frais, Teejay acknowledged the shade, and soon enough, Valiant responded to the acknowledgement via Instagram, spurring Teejay to preview a diss track shortly thereafter.
Nonetheless, the clash stayed on social media for a bit longer. Valiant responded to Teejay’s preview with a message on his Instagram Story that read, “Me naah give you no strength for you EP sir, go work and promote it.” I Am Chippy — Teejay’s first project since signing to Warner Records last year — is slated for a Feb. 2 release. Right after the IG Story jab, Valiant then went live with DJ Mac himself as the “Drift” riddim played in the background. After one more Instagram Live from Teejay’s side, in which he doubled down on his DJ Mac’s disses, the musical phase of the clash began.
After two tracks each from both Teejay and Valiant, the two artists put their beef to bed. While all four songs are currently available on their respective official YouTube pages, both dancehall stars have since removed the songs from their respective official Instagram pages out of respect for one another.
Without any further ado, here’s a ranking of the eight songs that made up two of the biggest contemporary dancehall clashes of the young decade.But first be sure to check out our Spotify playlist highlighting January’s hottest new tracks across reggae, dancehall, soca, calypso and more.
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