Dancehall icons Beenie Man and Bounty Killer easily earned their best streaming days of 2020 in the wake of their showdown on the popular Instagram Live ‘Verzuz’ series on Saturday (May 23), according to preliminary reports to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
Both acts achieved their single-day streaming high of the year on Sunday, May 24, likely as fans revisited and recapped the show after its Saturday night clash drew 500,000 viewers. Beenie Man pulled 622,000 U.S. on-demand streams on the 24th, while Bounty Killer registered 256,000 clicks. The former had yet to break the 300,000 daily mark in 2020, while the competition pushed the latter north of the six-figure threshold for the first time this year.
For the full Verzuz impact, Beenie Man’s totals on both the battle day (23rd) and following day (24th) give him 906,000 U.S. streams, a 187.5% increase from his 315,000 streams in the two days preceding the event. “Girls Dem Sugar” was his top streaming tune, with 219,000 clicks on the 23rd – 24th. “Who Am I” (75,000), “King of the Dancehall’ (64,000), “Dude” (62,000) and “Romie” (48,000) rounded out his top five.
Bounty Killer, too, experienced triple-digit percentage growth. His catalog accrued a combined 367,000 U.S. on-demand streams on the 23rd and 24th, compared to 94,000 in the two days before, a surge of 291%. “Living Dangerously” was his best streaming track for the 23rd- 24th, with the next four highest in this order: “Look” (27,000), “Benz & Bimma” (25,000), “Suspense” (21,000) and “Worthless Bwoy” (13,000).
Notably, the two dancehall figures contested the first Verzuz battle not centered on American hip-hop or R&B acts, though the pair have collaborated with several stars of the genres, including Janet Jackson, the Fugees and Akon. Perhaps most notably, Bounty Killer served as a featured act on No Doubt’s “Hey Baby,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2002 and won a Grammy Award for best pop vocal performance by a duo/group the next year.
Adding to the situation, both acts have had severely limited exposure to U.S. audiences in the past decade. Both artists’ visas were revoked in the early 2010s, and though Beenie Man has since recovered his, he still has no clearance perform in the United States. The legal issues were highlighted in the Verzuz battle by another Jamaican-bred star, Shaggy, who said on Instagram, “It’s about time we rally the powers that be to free up these [artists], allow them traveling visas and work permits so they can travel freely to promote our culture and represent our brand.”