Vybz Kartel dubbed as “national treasure” by his lawyer, who also made a bold proclamation saying Kartel, “is dancehall.”
Dancehall veteran Vybz Kartel has been a part of the music industry since the early 90s. He was initially known as Adi Bantan, a tribute to his idol, Buju Banton. He subsequently joined a group called Vybz Cartel and opted to retain the name after the group disbanded. Having a successful career spanning decades, Vybz Kartel has amassed hundreds of hit songs along with a dedicated legion of followers. Praised as the King of Dancehall, he is held in very high regard. He has a very powerful influence over those who love him and his Gaza fans will do just about anything for him. Utter one wrong word against the Worl’Boss, and you will become the bearer of a very harsh assault via his supporters.
Although he has been incarcerated for the past 9 years, being convicted in 2014 of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams, Vybz Kartel has maintained a prominent post in dancehall music. He boasts an incredible repertoire of music, steadily releasing tracks for the entirety of his career. This prolific manner did not diminish upon his sentencing and although recording music in prison is strictly forbidden, Kartel has stayed at the top of the charts dropping new tracks weekly. In fact, his new album, Of Dons & Divas, was released on June 26th. How he manages to accomplish this is anyone’s guess, as he recently stated in a Billboard interview that talks surrounding him recording in jail is “above his pay grade.”
On Monday, June 29, proceedings began in his Privy Council hearing to decide if he will be granted leave from The Court Of Appeals. If given the opportunity, Vybz Kartel will be taking his murder case to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom to have it dismissed, making him a free man. In a recent interview, his new lawyer, Isat Buchanan, made some heavy statements regarding the popular dancehall artiste.
“The local industry is stagnant because of the constant attack on the freedom of expression. Vybz Kartel has been, is and likely to remain relevant as he is dancehall. It is an honour to be representing Jamaica’s national treasure and musical lifeline. I am a fan so more than ever, fighting to uphold the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the World Boss is epic. It is like fighting to preserve an important part of our culture,” said Buchanan.
Fans of the “Tony Montana” deejay would definitively declare Buchanan’s bold statements as law, citing Kartel’s career as proof. However, making such conclusive pronouncements doesn’t make allowances for all the other dancehall artistes that have contributed significantly to music over the years. Bob Marley, Shabba, Buju Banton, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Koffee, Popcaan, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, are just a few of the names that represent Jamaican music and culture. All of those aforementioned artistes have had a monumental impact on music, locally and globally. Koffee made history upon winning a Grammy for her break-out hit, “Toast”. While Bob Marley, Buju, Shaggy, and Sean Paul have defined international success with tours, collaborations, and worldwide recognition.
Popcaan is one other artiste who made headlines after being signed to rapper Drake’s label OVO. And we have to mention Beenie and Bounty’s overall musical successes most recently their Veruz battle, which took the record for most views for the platform and brought in hundreds of thousands of followers for Timbaland’s Verzuz account on Instagram. The Verzuz battle was dubbed a win for Jamaican culture and was declared as the best battle to be held thus far beating out all other international match-ups.
With these points being noted, one could, unfortunately, state that Kartel has not reached massive success internationally as he has not had major collaborations with international artists. One must also mention that he has not yet won a Grammy, and although he is hoping to do so with his new album, the reception has not been overly positive.
Therefore, referring to Vybz Kartel as “Jamaica’s national treasure and musical lifeline” discredits others of their musical contributions. Dancehall is a community, and it needs to be represented by unity and harmony. No sole person can be regarded as the one thing keeping the music alive, it is certainly a group effort with so many talented artists young and old, each with their own achievements.
While many fans would agree with Buchanan’s high praises of Vybz Kartel, are they factual or appropriate, especially considering the plethora of other dancehall artists in the industry and their accomplishments? Is his statement a tad far-fetched?
Do you believe that Vybz Kartel can be distinguished as Jamaica’s national treasure and lifeline? Is he the sole representation of dancehall? What are your thoughts on this subject?