Waltzing with wolves - Dancehall's link to violence
published: Sunday | June 5, 2005
Ian Boyne, Contributor
THE PUBLIC'S revulsion, disgust and raging anger at the gunman-terrorist is showing no signs of let up, and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica's protest succeeded in getting the two political leaders to pull their Members of Parliament (MPs) kicking and screaming against their forced public pledge to shun the gunman.
Everywhere in Jamaica the gunman, or 'shotta', is under fire. Except in the dancehall. The dancehall remains the one space in which the gunman has honour, recognition and 'ratings'. In the dancehall it is no shame to be a gunman. Indeed, you have pride of place there. When one giggling female at a prominent gunman's funeral was recently featured on the front page of a newspaper with a wreath in the shape of an M-16, polite society was shocked and astounded at this perversion of values, but to those who know the dancehall that was nothing unusual.
The dancehall is the place where gunmen and dons are toasted and touted, where they get their obligatory big-ups and shout-outs. Let me make it clear that this is not all that the dancehall is about. There are positive elements in dancehall and not all dancehall artistes glorify violence. But the link between dancehall and the criminal underworld cannot be denied and the defenders of dancehall culture in this country have done us a tremendous disservice by their failure to critique negative dancehall, and by their reflexive apology for the promoters of criminality in the dancehall.
The promotion of criminality in our music has been with us for some time, but because corporate companies were making big bucks from some of these well-known deejays, and profit is sacrosanct, they turned a blind eye to their 'informer fi dead', 'People dead', 'bore bwoy skull' lyrics. Only the power of the gay lobby forced them to pay attention to some values beyond money-making....