The ‘Ladies’ who would be Queen (of the Dancehall): Saw/ Macka Clash at Sting 2013

‘A queen knows her worth and does fight for it!’ – Iyanla Vanzant, Value in the Valley

The ‘clash’ culture which has now been extended to the female actors in Dancehall was perhaps a long time in coming. Indeed, if ‘clash’ is really cover for ‘tracing’ then it is a perfectly acceptable female activity in our context.

After all, it is what some women do – trace each other and say who is better at having and keeping a man as a way of proving their worth whether to others and or themselves. Either way it is classic female activity in Jamaica.


In that case both Lady Saw and Macka Diamond, formerly Lady Mackerel, who clashed rather dramatically at Sting 2013 were true to form. Needless to say, Saw who by her own antics was anything but lady-like came out the undisputed champion. While a hapless Macka, who sometimes go by the moniker without the precious stone part added on, stood like a deer in headlights for long periods of time unable to ‘answer-back’. She was cut down in a hail of lyrical verses by the ever-green Saw who made it abundantly clear that she does not plan on relinquishing the title of ‘Queen of the Dancehall’ anytime soon. Or so it seems.


Notably, I have liked both artistes for some time; with Saw being one of my all-time favourites, whether male or female. In fact, I was troubled to learn that Saw had agreed to participate in a ‘clash’ at this year’s Sting event at Jam World in Portmore, St. Catherine. Because she had stated rather confidently this year that she was retiring from Dancehall and would ultimately pursue a more spiritual path.


Saw was electing to become Christian – a path others like Carlene Davis, Chevelle Franklyn, Junior Tucker, Lt. Stitchie and Papa San have taken at various points, to much acclaim. Given both my experience and understanding of Sting I was, therefore, nervous.

Would Saw descend into the gutter where most of the ‘clashes’ seem have taken place lately in order to prove that she is still the ultimate champion? Or would she opt to take another approach? It is, after all, hardly a good look for one professing Christian values to so conduct him or herself. But that is for another day.

Having watched the video of Saw and Macka dueling each other, not so much with musical verses, but the very raw and coarse language about how ‘good’ their bodies were, all my worst fears were confirmed. My heart sank.

Now, do not get me wrong. I understand that this is the nature of ‘Sting’ and that it is ‘big people business’. However, it was my fervent hope that the creeping crassness which has characterized some previous clashes would somehow not show up last night.

Given also that this has largely been a male domain at the annual Sting stage show, it is interesting to see the reactions to women participating in these ridiculous theatrics, presumably in the name of musical supremacy in Jamaica’s Dancehall.

Significantly, last night is the third time that this has happened to Macka. She and Spice had a go at it at the 2012 show. Before that the same Macka had a go at it with Queen Paula in 2003.

Last year, however, it was widely believed that that was an anti-climax. According to Macka in a subsequent interview with CVM’s Onstage host Wynford Williams she had to leave to perform at a show in Clarendon that same night. The ‘sting’ of their rivalry was not fully realized then.

So the question is: how can grown women allow themselves to be part of this ‘passa-passa’, notwithstanding that this may well be their jobs for which they are paid? What is more, if Lady Saw is, in fact, the undisputed ‘queen’ why has she allowed herself to ‘bow’ to this pressure?

Was this a purely commercial deal or was she genuinely motivated to take on the pretender Macka in an effort to prove to adoring fans that she still ‘has it’? It would seem reasonable that the title of ‘queen’ is not one that everyone can assume. Surely, Macka and Lady Saw jumping around, cursing at each other and basically reducing themselves to the power – however fleeting, that their bodies have over men is not a good example we want little children to see let alone emulate.

Surely, they are both aware that little girls are looking on at their behavior as examples of proper womanhood? Or perhaps it is that ‘clash’ culture has rightly come home to where it has always belonged – to the domain of tracing women?

On a side note, I am entirely amazed that some people feel it is okay for this kind of behaviour to be broadcast not only to a national but also an international audience without concern. Is there no regard for the impact that such displays like this can have on Jamaica’s international brand value? Or is it business as usual?

Some commentators on the video of the clash which I watched pointed out that the levels of crime is of greater urgency compared to whether two women, who are admittedly past their prime, are seen ripping into each other in the most obscene ways possible on a stage in full view of an international audience, while representing Jamaica.

Unfortunately, though even while crime is a very real issue in Jamaica I still believe that both issues are of urgent concern.

This is, especially considering that women are supposedly the transporters of culture and with it bear the responsibility – however unjust, of nurturing and therefore, making ready the members of the next generation to take up their place in the world. Are we sufficiently satisfied that the actions of Saw and Macka at Sting 2013, including D’Angel who was also seen splayed out on the stage with her feet up in the air in a barely-there outfit while veteran deejay Ninja Man towered above her, demonstrate the examples we want little girls to have?

Or even a wider audience in their assessment of Jamaican ‘culture’?

We are fresh off the Tessane Chin high. How do we make the comparison, if not the jump from the one to the other?

I am a little unclear.


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