Much of the content and subject matter of reggae and dancehall music's lyrics revolve around social and political awareness, with the hopes of raising the consciousness of the people. To bring forth topics of social injustice and criticism of the political systems known culturally as "Babylon." Some believe this is one of the main reasons many politicians have fought to stop reggae and dancehall music from being heard.
Cue Jamaican Politician, Lisa Rene Hanna, who recently announced that Vybz Kartel's music and recordings should be banned from the airwaves. What ensued was an uproar from The Teacha's fans, who quickly took to the internet. Hanna is a member of the opposition People's National Party, as a Member of Parliament for Saint Ann South East, and was once crowned Miss World in 1993. She is one of the youngest women to be elected to the Jamaican Parliament. In 2011, she was appointed as Minister of Youth and Culture. Then, earlier in the week, the parliamentarian called for the banning of all incarcerated artists from recording or releasing music.
Kartel has stated many times that the new music being released was recorded before his sentencing. As the biggest winner of the Youth View Awards in Jamaica, earlier in the month, it is no surprise that many fans of Kartel were shocked to hear the announcement made by Hanna. However, some fans went as far as making death threats to the politician and the PNP party isn't taking those lightly. A police investigation has been launched to investigate those threats from social media users. The political party released a statement, saying that it respects the rights of others and their views, but finds it unacceptable to resort to threats of harm.
A recent article in The Gleaner noted that The Broadcasting Commission has weighed in on the possible ban and the Executive Director, Cordel Green, mentioned there is no law permitting the airplay of music just because the artist may be convicted (or incarcerated). However, if the music was produced while in a correctional facility, then yes the broadcasting rules would be breached. The accusations against Kartel that his music is being recorded while behind bars has been ongoing and last year an investigation by the Correctional Services was made and nothing was found or determined.
In an interview published in Rolling Stone back in 2011, before Kartel's incarceration, he answered questions regarding the criticism he receives based on the topics he decides to sing about:
RS: You're often criticized for having a negative influence on Jamaican society – for promoting sex and violence in a country with an extraordinarily high murder rate.
Kartel: "In a third-world culture like Jamaica, crime and violence is rampant because of lack of social infrastructure for ghetto youth. There is corruption on all levels of society, from political corruption to corruption within the police force and the overall private sector, and all of that has led to the [decline] of society. Then society wants artists to take the blame, and be scapegoats labeled as role models? No, man, fuck that! I don't want that title."
RS: So you see yourself as a scapegoat?
Kartel: "Let me break it down for you. I live in [the wealthy Kingston neighborhood] Norbrook. The kids in Norbrook listen to the same Vybz Kartel lyrics that the ghetto youth listen to, so why aren't the kids in Norbrook behaving like the ghetto youth in Tivoli or Jungle? It has to do with social upbringing – it's society. And it starts with the family, which is why I always say "family first." My kids listen to my lyrics and I don't see them running rampant. It's the fault of society, of postcolonialism, of politicians – and then people want to blame artists. I refuse to take that blame."
Watch the hot topic discussion on Jamaica's News and Sports station, CVM Live @ 7 below.
*Images from @LisaHannaMP instagram