Dancehall stalwart Bounty Killer may have been cross, angry and miserable about a naked man appearing in the visuals for his 2001 Hey Baby hit with rock band No Doubt, but it wasn’t the main reason behind their fallout.
The ‘Warlord’ felt slighted by a dispute over the publishing agreement which stipulated the royalties he’d receive from his involvement in the song, and decided to sue the group whom he’d met through production duo Lowell ‘Sly’ Dunbar and Robert ‘Robbie’ Shakespeare.
“I never know much about No Doubt,” Bounty said during a recent interview with host Seanie B on BrukOut. “I’d seen the name but I never know the impact they had on the rock and roll scene. It was Sly and Robbie they came to Jamaica to work with and they suggest they wanna work with me, and Sly and Robbie call me and I tell them I want US$10,000, and dem a seh a US$2,000 dem have and mi seh, ‘F**k off.’”
But he was convinced to seize the opportunity after the Taxi Gang duo shared that a legacy mindset contributed to their success. So, he opted to do the feature for free.
Bounty dished on the big bucks spent to promote the song, including his first-class flight to shoot the reported US$500,000 Dave Meyers-directed video in Los Angeles, California. The end result featured a partially blurred-out clip of No Doubt drummer Adrian Young’s naked body as Bounty deejayed, “The way you rock your hips, you know dat it amaze me.” The entertainer has long said he wasn’t aware that a nude man would be in the video, but maintains it wasn’t the reason he temporarily severed ties with No Doubt.
“They tried to f–k with the publishing, that’s why I took them to court,” he revealed.
“People think that it’s because of the naked man inna the video; a nuh that mash up me and them. That cause a rift, but it’s because the one weh name (bass guitarist) Tony Kanal tried to take the publishing, wanna give me 2.5 per cent, when I get 12.5 per cent. I had to take them to court in California. US$25,000 retainer fee and we nuh go a court yet… So, most people don’t even know that’s what caused the rift.”
Despite the drama, the song peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also earned a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocal in 2003. Bounty even yielded to hitting the stage with No Doubt at the Super Bowl halftime show and BBC’s Top of the Pops program with much convincing from his former manager Julian Jones-Griffith.
“It was an achievement but I earned it; it’s my song,” he said. “Dem couldn’t carry nobody else go sing it, so, dem no really do nothing fi me. A free mi go pon the song, so, thank God dem do back something cause dem never pay me.”
Balancing his commentary, he commended the group for collaborating with Jamaican acts. Lady Saw (now Minister Marion Hall) also nabbed a Grammy in the same category for her feature on their 2004 hit Underneath It All.
Both songs were certified Gold by RIAA in 2021, after selling over 500,000 units each in the US.
“It was a good decision when I made to do that song but it’s a great effort for dancehall and reggae, and No Doubt is a good group and we haffi big them up because dem give Lady Saw another great hit as well, but dem just do business wrong. But, dem a good people, so, we love dem same way.”
Bounty and Cham are currently on a promotional tour in the UK for their Time Bomb EP, produced by Dave Kelly.