Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness is criticized for his comments in the Houses of Parliament, which says that entertainers who glorify violence in their songs are contributing to the high levels of violence in the country.
There was widespread backlash from Jamaicans locally and in the Diaspora as many called the Prime Minister a hypocrite for using music as a scapegoat for his inability to lead a successful crime plan to slow the rate of murders on the island.
However, Prime Minister Andrew Holness says entertainers are free to sing about anything they want but that they should be conscientious and remember they have a duty to place their music in context.
“In our music and our culture, in as much as you are free to reflect what is happening in the society, you also have a duty to place it in context,” Holness said. “Dat yuh tek up the AK-47 and tun it inna a man head … That is not right. And though you have the protection of the constitution to sing about it, you also have a duty to the children who are listening to you.”
Jamaica recorded 1300 killings in 2020 and is among the countries in the Latin and Caribbean region with the highest homicide rate of 46.5 per 100,000 people. Jamaicans are particularly furious at the Prime Minister, who, while being a critic of dancehall, revels in the names and labels given to him emanating from dancehall culture.
One of those is the fact that the Prime Minister is one known to wear his green Clarks- a style of shoes popular in dancehall. The Prime Minister also goes by a moniker “Bro Gad” – a term that Daddy1 from the 6IX crew in Montego Bay coined and has since been synonymous with scammers and gang leaders. In spite of this, the Prime Minister proudly named his Twitter account “Hon. Bro Gad,” and even sported hats and shirts with the Moniker.
That’s not the only thing that they are upset about, including artists who voiced their thoughts. Many are angry that the Prime Minister proudly used the same singers his comments were directed to create dubplates- musical jingles for his election campaign that saw him winning in a landslide victory.
Many artists lashed out at the Prime Minister for his comments, including Mavado, who pointed out that entertainers are not voted in to lead, and it isn’t their job to control crime.
“Why is this man blaming crime on music every prime minister that the ppl vote in when dem get them Blood**tt seat to work Dem fail and come point fingers well we pointing right back at you, what about all the grants dat you and your parliamentarians get to take care of crime billions,” Mavado asked. “that has nothing to do with entertainment no one voted for us to lead that’s your job! what u need to do is clean up your corrupted Goverment and stop intimidate the people! Tyad a you.”
Masicka, who did a dub using his “Just A Minute,” single for the Prime Minister during the last election called “Win It in A Minute” dub, also reacted to Andrew Holness’s comments admitting that he never voted and never will.
“Bro gad. Boy Jamaicaa sorry fi uno. Once gunman song stop the crime stop fi true,” he said. “Educate uno self ghetto utes make some money. Protect uno self ghetto and family. Educate ddem too. Illiteracy a the reason we just follow everything. Never vote, never will.”
Tanya Stephens also reacted to the Prime Minister’s comments by reposting a screenshot of the PM’s comment with the caption “a bit of early morning humour.”
Many Jamaicans took to social media as they added their two cents to the unfolding drama that will likely further the rift between the entertainment industry and the government.
One person said, “violence been here before msic…so why u want to mess up the culture cause u can’t control the crime rate. Music is not the problem. It’s poverty and they know that but they playing smart. Hoping the people will be dumb enough to accept it.”
Meanwhile, there were voices in defense of the Prime Minister as some asked “when or where did the PM blame dancehall for crime and violence,” as they pointed out that the PM’s comments were directed to some entertainers.
The Prime Minister was joined by a number of other parliamentarians who noted their disappointment at the spate of killings over the weekend, including the death of a 20- year old- Khanice Jackson, who went missing last week then her body was found. She was speculated to be raped then murdered.
Police later arrested and charged her neighbor, 50-year-old Robert Fowler, who confessed to the killing. Police say Fowler confessed that he killed the young lady at his house after pretending that he forgot his work tools at home. He was known to her and her family and would regularly offer to drop her at work as he also worked in the same area in Cross Roads, Kingston. Police say Fowler kept her body at the house all day and in the night dumped it in a local swampy area. She was found with just a top and her underwear was missing.
The Minister of Gender Affairs, Olivia Babsy Grange, in lamenting the deaths of women, said domestic violence is an epidemic in Jamaica.
“It is on a sombre note and with pain in my heart that I stand to give voice to the now suppressed voices of our sisters who have been brutally killed in the epidemic of domestic violence in our country. Killed because some man felt he had the right to decide whom she should love or that she should continue in an abusive relationship, regardless. Killed because she did not have the physical strength to fight back, as, intimidated and threatened, she kept silence till the moment of her death,” Grange said.
“If we all cannot protect our women and girls, our most vulnerable, from such horrible acts of violence, how do we even see ourselves as a civilised society? At what point do we say enough is enough?,” Grange asked fellow elected representatives.