I have listened to a large segment of the lost Jamaica ‘run off’ their mouths in the latest hullabaloo about Dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel, properly named Adijah Palmer.

And I think too many people – including journalists, politicians, and Dr Donna Hope as usual – have been missing the most pertinent point in this debate.

That point, for any logical person, is not about whether Kartel’s music should be banned from public radio or recorded in prison. That is not the most salient point!

The debate instead should be about the QUALITY of the music being produced by a convicted murderer, and released from a Government-owned prison. Like it or not, Vybz Kartel, until he is released, should not have privileges equal to artistes beyond confinement.

To think he should, is to be asinine. Since Kartel’s incarceration, too many of his songs, allegedly recorded IN PRISON have been promoting guns and violence; too many are littered with pornography.

That’s the type of music coming from a prisoner who should, instead, be singing redemption songs. That, at the very least, would tell me there is some form of rehabilitation taking place in prison, which rightfully should be a ‘correctional’ establishment.

Where does Commissioner of Corrections Ina Hunter fall in all of this? Is she being held accountable? Are the prison authorities turning a blind eye at Kartel’s gun lyrics out of sheer nepotism? Is that so, Mr Tom Tavares-Finson? I don’t know. I am simply asking you – a public servant – a pertinent question.

Another artiste, Jah Cure did a most powerful and positive lyrical ‘Reflection’ when he was incarcerated. I expect nothing less from the lyrical ‘world boss’ who – whether we agree or not – has been convicted of a crime… a most serious crime!

Studio microphone via FlickrCommons

HOLNESS’ MORAL PROBLEM – I cannot help but wonder if in any country – except lost Jamaica – I would be hearing gun lyrics from a man serving time for murder (or any other crime). Then we lament gun murders – the very thing our artistes promote freely and fearlessly in their lyrics.

Then we lament the failure of witnesses to come forward when we allow our artistes to promulgate the ‘informer fi dead’ culture freely and unabashedly. I mean; where are our thinkers in this country? Have our lawmakers fallen asleep? Do they fear these selfish vampires parading as Dancehall artistes? Don’t get me wrong! They are not the only inglorious blot on our social fabric.

They just happen to be the focus of this commentary. I really don’t need to be reminded about the evil perpetrated by our politicians – especially in the 1980s. Talking about politicians… It was tragically comical to have heard our chief lawmaker – if I could call him that – this month denouncing gun lyrics while on a political platform.

“We cannot allow violence to take away our true culture; and that is being projected as the culture of Jamaica. We must stand up, talk to the entertainers, talk to the promoters” Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared (the passion in his voice palpable).

Yet, a murder convict under the supervision of the prime minister’s government is being allowed to release gun lyrics and lyrical pornography in Jamaica. Dat mek sense? In fact, the prime minister and his Minister of National Security Robert Montague have absolutely no moral authority to tell anybody about crime in this country until they are capable of controlling the quality of music being released by their prisoner, Vybz Kartel.

It is full time these politicians – from both the Jamaica Labour Party and the People’s National Party – understand seh wi tired a di sweet talk now! We are tired of our lawmakers acting like Dr Donna Hope who seems to think Dancehall artistes – unlike everybody else – have no social responsibility, and are mere mirrors of a sordid social construct.

Well, if Dancehall music lacks influence – Dr Hope, advertisement is a waste of money and Bob Marley’s musical legacy is a waste of words. The concept of socialization, after all, does not stop outside Dancehall’s door. Once it can be discerned with any of the five senses, it indeed is capable of influencing people’s behaviour. “Man, too, is given to himself only through the senses; he is an object for himself only as an object of the senses” – Ludwig Feuerbach, renowned philosopher and anthropologist.

By Horace Mills 



                     

Horace Mills is a Jamaican journalist working abroad.

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I have listened to a large segment of the lost Jamaica 'run off' their mouths in the latest hullabaloo about Dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel, properly named Adijah Palmer.And I think too many people – including journalists, politicians, and Dr Donna Hope as usual – have been missing the most...

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