It is so easy to say how we want to reduce violence in our Island, but from the perspective of a native Jamaican, it is easy to preach, but difficult to practise. In my opinion, effective controls over crime in Jamaica need to start with the music industries, the artistes and the music lyrics which explicitly describe and depict murder so callously to a level where it is difficult to fathom.
My current position in the US requires driving three hours each day back and forth to work. Recently, I stopped in a record store to purchase some reggae music because I felt in the mood to keep up with my culture. I requested one of the latest dancehall compact discs, and I must admit that I was not familiar with many of the artistes. The lyrics of the first song hit me like a dagger.
For example, “Mi have a gun and it fat like snow cone. Mi have mi gun weh no even weigh quarter pound. Mi has mi gun that burst silent. Mi has a gun that looks for informer every time him leak. Mi has a gun that burst every night of the week.
I decided not to listen anymore, so I skipped to the next song, and what do I hear? “Call me evil canevil, gunshots take them like measles” I had to skip that one as well, and even though I did not know the next singer; I decided to listen because I liked the voice of the artiste and so I listened to the song in its entirety.
“Hell broke loose again,” the artiste sang. “The world is mine. Man a gangster for life. No man can’t have mi back, any men have my back must get copper shot”. The most sickening part of all was when I heard the artiste graphically describe the murder. “Flesh deh all about. The mother bawls out. She step up to his body and see his brain a crawl out”. That was it; I turned off the music. As a mother, I could not listen to such lyrics and especially because a friend of mine had lost her young son that was attending a prominent high school in Kingston in this manner. The vivid memory of her pain was heart-wrenching.
I am not saying that Jamaica is not putting out good music, but some dancehall artistes go from one extreme to another in regards to the quality of the music that we hear. Some dancehall artistes are putting out music that is potentially harmful to our young people. The media should not give airplay to artistes that glorify the guns in this fashion. The goals and objectives of most of these artistes are to reach as many people as possible to maximise profits. If they believe that their music will not be played on air because of the content, then they would have no choice but to clean up the lyrics. All Jamaicans and especially mothers should cry out against the glorifying of the guns. Something needs to be done.
According to Jay-Z, inner-city youths in the rap industry have focused their music on violence and crimes because that was the only way to get their voices heard. What is our dancehall artiste telling us in Jamaica, that with your guns you are more powerful? Power is the voices of our innocent children, brothers, sisters, mothers, husband and so forth that were slaughtered and are crying out from the graves.
Dancehall music with these violent lyrics helps to build the thought process of our youths. Based on a study that was done by Iowa State University, leading researcher, Craig A. Anderson, PhD noted that violent songs increase aggressive thoughts and feelings and have implications for real world violence.
I think that the mothers in Jamaica should devise a plan and approach the media houses, the music industry and so forth to resolve the impact of violent lyrics on our children. I understand the concept of freedom of speech, but we have an issue with violence in Jamaica and I honestly believe that dancehall music contributes to it.
Let us beg the dancehall artistes not to glorify the guns to the level that they currently do because many of the youths are influenced by them and sometimes take what they say literally. We must take back our country before all of our youth become degenerate.