PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has labelled the ban of dancehall artiste Skeng from Guyana as an embarrassment.
Holness made the comment at a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) meeting in St Catherine on Sunday. He said while the situation is humiliating, the Government of Jamaica could not intervene.
He added that the contents of many popular dancehall songs should not define Jamaica.
“Whap Whap and chop chop and ensure and all ah dem...all of those things have their place but they can’t define us, we should not allow that to define us,” Holness said. “When another country say ‘I don’t want your artistes in my country’, it’s an embarrassment.”
Whap Whap refers to Skillibeng’s single which talks about murder, while Brysco’s Code explicitly highlights oral sex using the drink Ensure.
Both songs have been heating up the local music scene but are a source of concern for many who believe they reflect negatively on the industry and Jamaica.
Holness, in his address, said he believes some of the things being portrayed in music are seeping into the nation’s schools and has left him “very concerned.”
“We see it trickling down into the fights in the schools. We are concerned, very, very concerned, and worried about it. What has happened to us as Jamaicans is that we are being defined by some very limited things. Jamaica has allowed itself to become defined by a limited way of thinking,” the prime minister expressed.
This is not the first time Holness has shown discontent with the quality of music coming out of Jamaica. In April 2021, he shared that while artistes are “free to reflect what is happening in the society, you also have a duty to place it in context.”
On Friday, Guyana public security minister, Robeson Benn, labelled Skeng persona non grata in that country.
The security minister said anti-social behaviour and lawlessness in any form will not be tolerated in public spaces.
“Any artiste who has a record of promoting vulgar and lawless behaviour, including the firing of gunshots in public places, will not be granted permission to appear on a public stage, they could still make private club appearances and behave as badly as they want,” said Benn.
Benn’s pronouncements stems from last month’s shooting incident at concert dubbed Baderation held at the National Park, Georgetown. Skeng was the headliner.
Skeng — whose given name is Kevaun Douglas — was approximately 15 minutes into a set at the Baderation concert in Guyana on May 28 when an unidentified patron discharged his firearm in a gun salute as the deejay performed his song Protocol. Members of the crowd began scrambling for cover.
The artiste and his management have distanced themselves from the incident.
Skeng has been the centre of controversy recently. In May, he was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston while about to board a plane for Trinidad and Tobago.
He is being represented by attorney Christopher Townsend, and will face the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on June 21.
Skeng is not the first Jamaican act to come under scrutiny in Guyana. In 2008, Mavado and Bounty Killer were temporarily banned after a concert they headlined there ended abruptly following sporadic gunshots.
Three years later, dancehall act Vybz Kartel songs were banned from the country’s radio.