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A Powerful Sub-Culture Called Dancehall

Close observation of hard-core dancehall music will reveal that there is a tendency to embrace, endorse and promote some of the most disgusting and decadent lifestyles. Most try to adopt an hypocritical stance of portraying themselves as being defenders of the oppressed, however they encourage and assist in promoting the characteristics and mannerisms that has over the years, and continues to keep our brothers and sisters in psychological bondage.
With the exception of a few, most dancehall artistes have contributed to the music being seen and interpreted as a quarrelsome style music, which is steeped in confrontations that often times becomes physical.
Inspiration for the writing of a song is usually inspired by ether a domestic ‘kass kass, the idiosyncrasies or idiotic actions of individuals. These persons on most occasions are driven by the everyday pressures of life, or sheer ignorance. However this does not necessarily mean that the song writer is also daft, but most times understands the mentality of the dancehall culture, to the extent that he or she recognizes the impact musically, of relaying such a story in dancehall parlance or style.
The main stage for dancehall confrontations was at “Sting,” billed as the greatest one day dancehall event in the world. “Sting” until recently was the scene for some of the most disgusting clashes and confrontations, between dancehall artistes on one hand, and unruly dancehall supporters who bottled artistes who in their opinion ‘disrespect’ artistes who they support.
The promoters of “Sting” were forced to address the issue four years ago, they made it clear that they would not encourage or endorse any form of confrontational clashes between artistes. These clashes over the years has led to both artistes and patrons getting hurt some seriously.
Recently there have been a number of incidents that have made media houses take an in-depth look at the coverage, exposure and hype that has been attributed to some hard-core dancehall artistes. Recent trends show that there are now entire communities who are caught up in supporting a particular artistes or production house over another, thus dividing the youths and their communities.
It is now at the stage where an individual’s like or dislike of a particular artiste could set one up for physical abuse. A perfect example is the case of Marveley where Top Marveley is alleged to be strongly aligned to Beenie Man and Vibz Kartel Mafia House Productions, While Bounty Killer and Movado’s “Alliance” is supported by Bottom Marveley which has sparked a number of clashes between youths in the community.
To date one man has been shot dead as a result of the ridiculous on-going feud. The Police has confirmed that they are investigating incidents and complaints from residents in regards to frequent exchanges of gunfire in the community. Pressed for more information the Police disclosed that to date no evidence has been found to implicate any dancehall artistes or production house, alleged to be affiliated with the on-going feud in Marveley.
In another incident on the UWI Campus a female Radio DJ had missiles thrown at her while she was playing at a show at the “Student’s Union in early January. Reasons given for the missile throwing was that the DJ was playing too many of Beenie man’s music.
The latest incident was on Sunday February 25th in Helshire where two popular DJ;s Razz and Biggy were roughed up by three men who claimed they are so-called supporters of dancehall artiste Vybz Kartell. The men accused Razz and Biggy of playing too many Mavado selections. When contacted Vybz Kartel said he was disappointed in the actions of his supporters and fans, and there would be no tolerance for such behavior.
Its indeed obvious that the dancehall fraternity is rapidly approaching a new and depressing low. There can only be one solution to this problem ,disc jockeys must play good music, not the hype that has literally forced good reggae music to be stuck on radio stations library shelves.
Radio Jocks and DJ’s must also realize that they play a crucial role in educating their listeners and patrons, through the music they play. To do this they must free themselves from the shackles of obligation, no well thinking radio personality or DJ should allow themselves to be used, bribed or controlled for a fistful of dollars.
Bearing in mind the chaos, lack of vision and the confrontational stance dancehall has taken, our competent ‘disc jockeys’ must take on the roles of our social scientists, who apparently are too scared to ether address the issue, or show their faces at needed forums.
As a result radio stations must ensure that their broadcasters are capable, and competent of addressing, and diffusing the escalating tensions brought about by misdirected artistes, record producers and flat-footed hustlers who pose as disc jockeys and DJ’s.
Its now in the hands of our disc jockeys and the dancehall artistes themselves, to deliver world class music that will not only entertain, but uplift our youths and our nation in the process.

Extract from forthcoming book by T."Boots" Harris. © 2007. 

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