Dancehall artistes: An embarrassment until...

Dear Editor,

Prime Minister Andrew Holness recently expressed how embarrassed he was after Guyana’s ban of dancehall artiste Skeng was made public. It seemed that he echoed the sentiments of many Jamaicans who are always eager to highlight the negative impact of dancehall lyrics on vulnerable youth and their direct link to the execution of crime and violence.

While I understand that we are all ambassadors of our country when we travel, and have an automatic onus on us to represent our country in the “best” manner, it would be remiss of me to ignore the eruption of excitement that occurs when the presence of a damned dancehall artiste is announced. Such fanfare is similar to that in the stadiums when our athletes dominate the tracks. Yes, the influence of our artistes is strong and has penetrated borders that many of our critics can only experience vicariously.

Dancehall artistes are often used as the scapegoats when crime is rife in our communities. It is so convenient to chide our artistes who are not the ones at the borders allowing weapons into our country or heading their dispersion. Violence in Jamaica, land we love is a deep, inflamed, festering wound that a change in lyrics alone cannot heal.

As individuals we have the choice to allow the “garbage” music into our ears and homes just as we do the “conscious” and potent music from reggae artistes.

Our politicians always seem to turn to the dancehall artistes when it is election time. I do hope that I don’t hear the Jamaica Labour Party giving the People’s National Party a “whap, whap, whap” when they win seats or any minister being said to “run dem block” as is the “protocol”.

How can you don Clarks on your feet with a toothbrush in your back pocket as “Brogad” but be comfortable enough to berate dancehall artistes?

Music comes down to context. It is not coincidental that so many people gravitate to the gory lyrics of Skeng and Skillibeng or are eager to use their “choppa” phones.

If anything, the prime minister should use this ban of our artiste to take a microscopic look at the reality highlighted in song.

Mr Prime Minister, castigating them now but using them for dubplates later when it serves you is not cutting it.

Deja writes


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