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Dancehall star Beenie Man offers his apologies

Dancehall star Beenie Man, who has recorded anti-gay songs, was yanked from a concert associated with the MTV Video Music Awards this weekend after gay groups planned a protest, the network said yesterday.

MTV pulled the Jamaican singer from the roster Tuesday after gay activists announced plans to protest Saturday's concert in Miami over some of his past lyrics, including "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays" and "Queers must be killed."

"We don't want anything to overshadow what will be a great weekend of music events for South Floridians," MTV spokeswoman Marnie Black said yesterday, declining further comment. The awards show is Sunday at the bayfront American Airlines Arena in Miami, informs Newsday.

"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," Beenie Man said in the statement.

The gesture did little to placate groups like the U.K.-based Outrage!, which called the apology "a PR stunt dreamed up by Virgin Records to stave off protests."

Indeed, Miami-based SAVE Dade had been planning to picket Beenie Man's performance on Saturday.

For his part, Beenie says he understands why MTV would want to avoid any trouble this weekend, but the "toaster" (a Jamaican brand of rapper) also says he doesn't get the controversy. "I just smile, because I don't know what they're fussing about," the singer told the Miami Herald.

According to the London Free Press, other stars of dancehall, a sensuous, more contemporary form of reggae, also have recorded anti-gay songs and have been targeted for protests by gay groups because of their lyrics.

"They say vile things (about) setting fires to gays, shooting them in the head . . . Is this what we want in Canada?" Whatling said.

Beenie Man, born Anthony Moses Davis, is on a world tour promoting his new album, Back to Basics. His songs include his recent hit, Dude, Girls Dem Sugar and Who Am I? His album Art and Life won the Grammy Award for best reggae album in 2001. That year, Beenie Man played the Drink in London, pulling a crowd of about 800 fans.

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