Jamaican dancehall star Beenie Man has apologized for offending people with his lyrics, which critics say incite violence against homosexuals.
In a statement issued through his record company, Virgin, the 30-year-old performer said he had realized “that certain lyrics and recordings I have made in the past may have caused distress and outrage among people whose identities and lifestyles are different from my own.”
“While my lyrics are very personal, I do not write them with the intent of purposefully hurting or maligning others, and I offer my sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs,” said the statement, issued Tuesday.
“As a human being, I renounce violence towards other human beings in every way, and pledge henceforth to uphold these values as I move forward in my career as an artist.”
Beenie Man, whose real name is Anthony Davis, is one of the biggest names in the dancehall scene. But human rights campaigners say tracks such as “Bad Man Chi Chi Man (Bad Man, Queer Man)” could incite violence against gay men.
The performer had previously defended his lyrics, saying they reflect life the way Caribbean people see it.
Spokesman Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group OutRage! dismissed Beenie Man’s apology. “He doesn’t say who he is apologizing to, or what he is apologizing for,” he said.
“This is not about making homophobic comments, it’s incitement to murder, which is a criminal offense. All his ‘kill queers’ songs are still in circulation. He is still profiteering from his murder music.”
A vigorous campaign by OutRage! and other human rights organizations has forced the cancellation of some of Beenie Man’s concerts in Europe, including one in June in London, where police questioned the performer about his lyrics.