Dancehall Queen Carlene is demanding more credit from other genres using dancehall culture.
Many dancehall fans expressed their anger recently on social media after US rapper Saweetie posted photos of an outfit that she wore, which many believed looked a lot like one of the designs worn by legendary 90s Dancehall Queen Carlene. The point of displeasure came because many felt that DHQ Carlene was not given her credit for the inspiration behind Saweetie’s outfit.
Many of those irate fans took to Twitter to express their annoyance with the way the outfit was used. Some even posted photos of Saweetie’s outfit alongside a few, which were worn by DHQ Carlene. Many felt that it was another form of cultural appropriation, which they said is not uncommon coming from US performers.
The STAR spoke with DHQ Carlene about her feelings on the matter, who said that while she agreed that artistes in the US borrow many styles, she thinks that Jamaican people are also to blame for not honoring their own culture and those who influence its direction.
“I have never heard a Jamaican artiste big me up for what I have done. They all come with the sex symbol kinda thing, but that wasn’t dancehall before me. You look back and see! And none of them have ever said, ‘I am doing this because of what Carlene did or what any of the original dancehall trendsetters did’,” she said.
It’s because of this that she thinks the critics should not get so worked up. “Is it because we are Jamaicans and we are entitled to it?” she added.
She further explained that she did not believe that Americans should take from the culture without giving the proper credit but that “if we want that respect, it starts right here at home.” She added that she has never been given her full credit from home or abroad for the way she helped to mold the dancehall culture back in the 90s
“Go back and look what music fashion was, especially in hip hop before the 90s. It was big clothes, heavy clothes. We changed that. I changed that,” she said while adding that instead of acknowledgment, all she received was people who heavily criticized her and tried to pull her down. She also said that she believed that if Americans knew who to credit they would. She used Lil Kim as an example.
“Way back when, Lil Kim said in one of her interviews that her look (with the blue wig) was inspired by dancehall, and so if they know who to credit, they will,” she said. When asked specifically how she felt about Saweetie’s outfits, she said while it was clear that it was borrowed from dancehall, she doesn’t think that the rapper knows who to credit.
“That’s dancehall all the way. But I can’t bash her for not crediting dancehall because she may not even know who to credit. I have to big up (Culture) Minister Babsy Grange because she is the only person outside of the industry players themselves who make sure that people know who to give credit to for certain things,” she continued.