Beenie Man On The Mend; More Traditional Dancehall Album Due In June

MC says Sean Paul's success showed him America ready for 'hard-core' Jamaican sound.

Just two months after a near-fatal car accident in his native Jamaica, veteran dancehall MC Beenie Man has almost fully recovered from his injuries. His punctured lungs are healing, and the cut that split open the side of his face is now just a dark scar.

"I'm a fast healer, I'm a strong man," Beenie said last week.

In January, Beenie was involved in a single-car accident while driving on mountainous roads just outside Kingston (see "Beenie Man In Near-Fatal Car Accident"). By his own admission, he was speeding, and his wide-bodied Hummer couldn't respond in time to a sudden detour in the road.

"There was no time to turn or to stop so I went straight over," he recalled in his lyrical patois. "After the accident happened ... I looked in the mirror. I couldn't recognize myself. My face was big. My lip was big. So I just went back in the bed, lie down and didn't look in the mirror for three weeks, until my face come back to normal."

The accident happened just as Beenie's latest song, "Dude" (from the reggae/hip-hop fusion compilation, Def Jamaica), was starting to catch on in both dancehall and hip-hop circles. Despite the name he's made for himself with fans outside the dancehall genre, thanks to crossover songs like "Dude" and work with Janet Jackson and the Neptunes, Beenie is making his next album a more traditional dancehall album. Hence, he's calling it Back to Basics.

"Dancehall isn't [like] R&B and hip-hop. It's hard-core music. So when you take it back to basic, you're really giving the people [that] world," he explained. "It's for us to keep the music the Jamaican way, so they can feel exactly what it is."

Beenie says the success of Sean Paul showed him that people in America respond to an indigenous Jamaican sound. "What Sean Paul did is great for business," he said. "I lift my hat higher to Sean Paul because he take the music to the level where I want to take it." Beenie is currently putting finishing touches on the album, which is slated for release in June.

Only some residual tearing in his leg muscles stands between Beenie and a full recovery. His brush with death, he says, has taught him that he can't take anything in his life for granted.

"I have to take life more serious. See my kids more. Spend more time with my moms," Beenie said. "I almost lost everybody. They didn't almost lose me, I almost lost everybody."