AWRIGHT DEN: Blame the fans?
Approximately three years ago, I subscribed to one of the Caribbean’s leading online news and information websites with the hope of increasing my knowledge and understanding of issues and developments taking place throughout the Caribbean.
Last Friday, while perusing the various headings listed on the website, I was swiftly drawn to an article out of a Jamaican newspaper that read, Police Release Mavado And Vybz Kartel.
The article began, “Popular dancehall artistes Vybz Kartel and Mavado have been released by police after being questioned about serious crimes, and the lawyer representing one of them has a message for their fans and other people associated with them:”
At this point, I was hoping that the lawyer was about to apologise on behalf of her client for his negative influence on the Caribbean community. Oh was I to be disappointed!
The lawyer went on to share her message and this is what she said, “We want to ask the communities that are affiliated or aligned to both artistes to be very careful what they say and what they do because it reflects on the artistes, and we don’t need to have their image going in the direction of violence or involvement in criminality,” said Vybz Kartel’s attorney-at-law, Valerie Neita-Robertson.
She continued: “Kartel is not really involved in any violence, he doesn’t support it and we don’t want any other reoccurrence of his having to be taken into custody. If you love the artiste, behave yourselves, don’t get involved.”
After reading this, the first thing that came to my mind was, “this woman mad? She could only be crazy”. At this point I was in disbelief, shock, bewilderment and the list went on.
I had significant issues with the entire message, but I want to highlight three statements she made:
1. . . . to be very careful what they say . . . because it reflects on the artistes
2. . . . we don’t need to have their image going in the direction of violence or involvement in criminality
3. “Kartel is not really involved in any violence, he doesn’t support it”.
First point to note is, Kartel’s lawyer is speaking to his fans, associates and supporters, basically those who listen to his music and support his world view. I find it quite disturbing that she recognises the negative influence that his followers are having on her client’s image yet she fails to see the correlation between the fans’ behaviour and their vocabulary and the instructions and content of his songs/lyrics.
Secondly, she made a comment to the effect that Vybz Kartel does not support or is not really involved in any violence. I cannot sit here and say for a fact that he is personally involved in violence in Jamaica, however, I can safely say that he promotes it through his music via his lyrics.
Here are exerts from three of his songs: 12 Gauge, Pop It Off and Sumady (Somebody) Affi Bawl 12 Gauge:
Chorus: Mi a real badman (uknow), bus gun anywey mi feel like. (yeah), every ends haffi rate Kartel cause them know mi nuh play wid people. (u neva know).
Verse: Mi have a 12 gauge wey name Chesta, bus up yuh chess Sa, nozzle ah the gun alone long like a dressa, dis mi yuh dead Sa, lead inna yuh head Sa . . . Vybz Kartel nuh live by nuh orda, Park Lane man them wi shot up yuh Prada Pop It Off:
Chorus: Pop it off and point it and squeeze, Di calio tough line ninety one piece, Mi nah run, Blood affi run inna di streets (run), Wen it start nuh bodda tell mi bout nuh peace Sumady Affi Bawl Chorus: Sumady haffi bawl, Sumady haffi bleed, Sumady haffi lay down, And cya breathe, A mouth some bwoy run off, Mi bullet fly full speed, Sumady haffi lay down and cya breathe.
After reading these lyrics, how can someone say that Kartel doesn’t support violence? You can also review the lyrics to songs like Licensed To Kill, Murderous, Crime Minister and Any Guy Diss Get Gunshot.
As I close, I want to let Barbados know that Vybz Kartel has significant influence on our children. His music can be found on their computers, on their iPods and on their mobile phones. His lyrics can be found in their hearts, on their minds and on their lips and as a result we can see the influence it is having on young people through their behaviour, attitude and vocabulary.
Remember, our character, our perceptions to life and our behaviour are significantly influenced by four factors: what we read, what we watch, whom we associate with and what we listen to.
• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.