As the Dancehall genre enters its biggest battle to date against politicians, bourgeoisie journalists and a seemingly well-established system determined to see to its demise, it has gotten timely reinforcement from a most unlikely source – the incarcerated but definitely not silenced Vybz Kartel. As the Jamaican government seeks to criminalize elements of Dancehall music it is fitting that it’s most notorious personality takes center stage to defend the genre even whilst incarcerated for nearly two years. Ironically, if there is any validity to the claim that Jamaican politicians and the Broadcast Commisions want positive music for youngsters, then they will endorse this CD from Kartel.
Vybz Kartel latest CD compilation Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto will serve to curtail all efforts by the powers that be to dismiss the genre as merely a perpetuator of violence as this shows that the genre at its best is simply an artistic expression of life in the ghettos of Jamaica. As Kartel co-author Michael Dawson explained about their book that the CD is based on: “Jamaican Ghetto life is not a pretty story so I don’t understand why certain people want Dancehall artistes to sing about niceties. Doing that would be hypocritical and I think we should leave hypocrisy to the politicians. This CD is straight reality, as real as you can get about Jamaica’s true roots and its modern day culture.”
Kartel shows that he is still one of Dancehall’s leading innovators as this is the first popular Dancehall album that will have independent commentary before each song in a series of interludes. This is certain to do well in Europe, Asia and other areas where listeners are challenged by the dialect as the Commentator clearly explains Kartel’s thought process in making each song.
Certainly this is expected to be short-listed on the Grammys and all Reggae award shows in the coming year but this CD just maybe the piece that will bring Dancehall to new heights. The world embraced Reggae because it was protest music and preached against injustice. This album does the same on very catchy dance beats so it will figure prominently on main stream charts. Many will be shocked by the versatility of Kartel but it is his revolutionary stand that is most impressive in this CD – a man behind bars, facing murder charges attacks the very system that can determine his fate and he attacks that system in the best way he knows – with his music. Why throw caution to the wind and be this brave on the eve of one’s trial? Listen to Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto and you may find out.