Responding to a Gleaner article titled “Muzzle them! – Tufton wants laws against antisocial lyrics,” Michael Dawson, the U.S based co-author of Vybz Kartel’s book stated: “I am sick of the hypocrisy of these Jamaican politicians, to put in a Jamaican term is only the dancehall artiste dem have strength for. An American who is a convicted abuser of a Bajan female artiste came to Jamaica and danced on his head at Sumfest to much love and support; Scarface and Godfather 1, 2 and 3 are some of the most popular movies in Jamaica; the PNP and JLP are the entities most associated with the most murderous period in Jamaica’s history, yet none of the above is banned – the sick truth is that the bullseye is on poor people’s music.
Furthermore, Minister Bunting mentions his love for an entertainer with Kartel’s cult-like appeal to be a part of the anti-lottery scam campaign. My question to him is, did he ask Addi (Kartel) to be a part of that campaign? What politicians refuse to admit is that the Dancehall artistes understand the youths more than politicians so they can relate in a way that politicians only wish they could. Remember the Atlanta based rapper TI who was charged by the US government with possessing and attempting to purchase firearms? The US government never condemned him to hell the way Jamaican politicians do our artistes, instead they reasoned with him and used him to speak to kids about the same issue that he was convicted for resulting in significant documented success. Majic Johnson spoke out against AIDS after contracting HIV out of wedlock and Michael Vick convicted for dog fighting, is an advocate against the practice, so there is indeed precedence. Why can’t Jamaican politicians be that progressive in their thinking? Unless they think outside of the box, these politicians will realize that their elitist and draconian measures will never solve Jamaica’s crime problem. Understanding the youths and having dialogue with them is the only way.
They keep criticizing Kartel about the use of his influence but I say that they have absolutely no right to do that until they read the book that the man has co-written. Did they read how he discouraged robbery, rape and tribal war? Did they read where he encouraged youths to work hard and invest their money wisely, not to give up when they are discriminated against and to be productive fathers so that their children will not make the same mistakes that they made? Did they read his appeal to politicians to create more opportunities for the youths and to reduce bureaucracy so that ‘hustlings’ can become a legitimate tax paying businesses? Did they bother to mention that the song refers to scamming as being a lesser evil that shooting someone – no? The intention is not to understand where he is coming from or rationalize, the intent is to demonize. Did they bother to mention that the song started being played this summer but scamming has been a problem for years?
I am saying until they read what the man has written in its entirety, they can’t criticize him by taking one verse out of one song and define him. However, my task in this debate challenge is not to defend Vybz Kartel or scamming but to defend Dancehall against what I believe to be a classist racist ideology prominent in “uptown” or “classist” Jamaica where the dominant belief is that they have the God given right to tell the rest of us what to listen to and what is moral and what is not. They behave as if Jamaica has a caste system.
My challenge to the Doctor and Senator is to debate me anytime or anyplace on his notion that the constitutional rights of some should be suspended in reference to Dancehall lyrics. My request to both him and the Minister however, is to read Vybz Kartel’s book before using a single verse to condemn a man. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and though I doubt they will, I eagerly await their response.