Popcaan added an interesting twist to the ongoing discussion of Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness blaming dancehall for crimes in the country.
In an early morning tweet on Thursday (April 8), Popcaan told PM Holness to invest some of his own money into dancehall music. His statement comes after PM Holness says that he’s the first Jamaican Prime Minister to openly embraced and support dancehall music. Still, his recent statement triggered a backlash not only from entertainers but also from fans, a lot of whom have voted for him in past elections.
“Good morning mr prime minister, invest some of your money into dancehall music, Embrace it for a year!!!! you’ll never regret your investment,” Popcaan tweeted.
While it’s very unlikely that the Prime Minister will respond to Popcaan directly, it’s likely that he will further address the broader issue in the near future. The Unruly deejay’s tweet breathes new life into the ongoing debate sparked by the Holness over a week ago where he blamed dancehall lyrics for high crime rate. The vast majority of fans of the deejay disagree with Holness’s assessment, but some others don’t agree with politicians pumping money in the genre due to the fear that they will ultimately stifle creativity.
“Government not allowed to mix up in Art or Culture poppy,” one fan tweeted in response to Popcaan. “Our creativity is at risk if such should happen. Plus we no want nuh hand outs from Politicians remember.”
Good morning mr prime minister, invest some of your money into dancehall music, Embrace it for a year!!!! you'll never regret your investment.
— Popcaan (@PopcaanMusic) April 8, 2021
Government not allowed to mix up in Art or Culture poppy. Our creativity is at risk if such should happen. Plus we no want nuh hand outs from Politicians remember.
— Eddie Fisher (@kause1331) April 8, 2021
Suppose the Prime Minister should invest his own money in ventures related to dancehall. In that case, it means he would retain some ownership stake in that venture, so perhaps Popcaan is echoing an age-old cry from the entertainment community that the government of Jamaica is not investing enough money into the music and culture, even though reggae/dancehall contributes to a portion of the country’s GDP directly and indirectly through promoting Jamaica on tour globally.
In 2019, Reggae Sumfest generated over JM$1 billion into the Jamaican economy, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett. The vast majority of those funds came from overseas from patrons who flew to Jamaica to attend the event, which was one of the largest stagings of Sumfest to date in terms of attendance.
“We estimate the revenue impact from the festival to be $J1 Billion based on average room nights stay of locals and visitors and taxes,” Minister Bartlett echoed before adding. “The success of entertainment festivals such as Sumfest augurs well for tourism as it boosts arrivals and has a major economic impact in and around Montego Bay.”
Is there an incentive for the government to invest in dancehall? The answer is an overwhelming yes, as pointed out by Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ own cabinet minister.
That same year, PM Holness vowed that he would protect dancehall music from degeneration. “It is not everything that we call ‘culture’ will have the longevity to carry from generation to generation,” Holness said. “Societies have died because culture degenerated into decadence. The State cannot just stand by and allow the culture to just degenerate. The State has to work in support of those people who are willing to see to the longevity of the culture.”
While there is evidence that PM Andrew Holness has embraced dancehall in the past and engaged with artists, a growing number of dancehall entertainers feel his recent comments are tone-deaf. Veteran artists like Baby Cham pointed out several contributors to the crime wave gripping the island for decades. These contributors are still not addressed by successive administrations.
“From where I stand, as someone from the inner city, the ghetto and a public figure, I have observed where poverty, poor leadership, illiteracy, and lack of opportunities for Jamaica youths are the top four contributors of the country’s high crime rate, not the music,” Baby Cham said while pointing out that children also consumed other contents deemed violent through other mediums like Netflix on their smartphones.
Other artists like the legendary Bounty Killer and his former Alliance protege, Mavado, have all spoken out strongly against the PM’s statement.
Undoubtedly, this discussion is needed at this present moment in dancehall and needs to be an ongoing one. Nevertheless, Popcaan just added another side to the conversation with a single tweet.
Should Prime Minister Andrew Holness invest his own money in dancehall music?