Lyrical artist and veteran dancehall deejay Leonard “Merciless’ Bartley was found dead last week at a resort guesthouse in Harlem.
Reports from resort staff indicate that Bartley, 51, checked into the resort he frequented quite regularly at around 1 a.m. on Monday 18 June 2022, and confirmed that he was seen making tea at around 1 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon after he had complained of feeling unwell.
Bartley, who was performing gigs at several Corporate Area studios, was found dead in the guesthouse later that afternoon.
Police reports indicate that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Bartley’s sudden death.
The news of his death was confirmed on multiple social media sites and has rocked the global dancehall community who have expressed their grief and disbelief at his passing.
Dancehall artist Macka Diamond wrote on Twitter:
“I can’t do the rip for Merciless honestly. I’m in denial. This can’t be real.”
In a statement Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture and Entertainment, also expressed her sadness over Bartley’s passing:
“It is really sad to lose another member of our music fraternity. Merciless was a popular artiste in the dancehall and had a number of hits to his credit. I extend sincere condolences to his family, relatives, friends, and associates and to the music fraternity.”
Others took to social media to raise questions and demand answers over the cause of his death. Commenter Jade Harris wrote:
“The police need to run a proper investigation, because I’m not buying this sudden death theory. Please do a proper investigation deh. RIP to the veteran who mash up the dance back in the 90s.”
Many others posted messages remembering ‘Merciless;’ who took on the stage persona of ‘Warhead;’ as being among the best to have graced the dancehall scene, and as master and legend of high-profile lyrical battles which contributed to the skyrocketing of his fame in the late 1990s and 2000’s.
Bartley’s historic and most talked about dancehall clash at Sting at the 2000 Boxing Day show, saw him beat out three of his opponents at the same time. Isaiah Laing, promoter, and founder of Sting told Loop Entertainment, “Leonard Bartley, aka Merciless, is undoubtedly one of the most lyrical artists to have graced the Sting stage. His lyrical artistry and command on the stage are unmatched.”
“He is the only man to kill three top deejays all at once on stage at Sting 2000. He is the only man to have lend defeat to the great Bounty killer twice, and we all know that Bounty is not a pushover,” Laing told the news outlet. Laing who said ‘Merciless’ had a commanding stage presence said,
“He is gone but won’t be forgotten anytime soon if any at all. RIP Warhead.”