Our Readers' Opinions
December 10, 2004
Stop the violence in our music now!

Editor: We now find ourselves in what appears to be a gang war, with drive-by shootings and gun attacks.

What is most disturbing is that unlike in the past when most of these incidents were due to personal disputes, now anybody who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time can be a victim; no one is safe. {{more}}

We have now reached an unforeseen level of violence in our society and we have to begin to ask ourselves why is this so – then, what can we do about it.

We can blame parenting, the police, our schools and teachers, but everybody is ignoring a constant instigator of violence so prevalent that we appear not to be able to recognize it. It is in fact the music that is played on our radio stations, in our nightclubs, at public events.

Our radio stations bombard our ears daily with songs advocating the gangster lifestyle, killing informants, homosexuals, the police, basically anyone who gets in your way.

We appear to have taken everything negative about Jamaican and black American culture and adopted them as our own, to the point where now our own artistes are basing their own persona on these negative images.

One of the most disturbing examples from last carnival was Skinny Fabulous’ song “Real Badman”, where he sings about drive-by shootings and says things like “dis me and yo family in a sorrow, yo nah go live to see tomorrow”. This song was played constantly on our airwaves, and still is. Despite the violent nature of its content, nobody batted an eyelid, because it was all wrapped up in a jumpy musical package.

It appears that our local artistes and DJs look upon this violence as entertainment but when Skinny Fabulous sings about killing a person who “disses” him, somebody somewhere internalizes those lyrics and a face is placed to them. When Luta sings about killing homosexuals and informants, these lyrics are internalized and a face is placed to them. The violent lyrics in the songs that are pervasive in our community continue to desensitize us to violence, so now it means nothing for somebody to chop another man over some insignificant matter; to take another life for some minor insult. A young child growing up listening to these songs loses all respect for the sanctity of human life.

We need to do something to stem this downward spiral before we end up like Jamaica. I would hope that the corporate entities such as Digicel, Karib Cable, Cable and Wireless, Hairoun Breweries, AT&T, ECGC and the many others that are frequent sponsors of events take responsibility and avoid sponsorship of any event featuring any artiste who condones violence.

The DJs on the radio stations and the discotheques need to realize the negative impact they’re having on the youth they’re trying to entertain, and be responsible in their choice of music. Our local artistes need to be more creative, and produce music that can be entertaining without being offensive or violent.

Look at the example set by Bomani and Kevin Lyttle who had great success singing about music, peace and love instead of violence and death. The general public on a whole needs to stand up and say, we don’t need this as part of our culture!

We are now all at risk of sudden and unexpected death. We have to do something about it for the sake of our children’s future.

A Music Fan