Dancehall is once again bearing the brunt of the blame where violence and crime are concerned. This time some artists from Barbados have come under fire for their offering on the “Trojan Riddim” track. The compilation of songs features some very gangster lyrics that caught the attention of those in authority.
The riddim begins with popular Bajan artist Lil Rick singing: “Shoot straight like Messi from Argentina, with a big f**** gun singing sweet like Selena. Gunshot clap out and skin you out like Sabrina ’cause you like to inform and run chat pon social media. Ya idiot, nobody ain’t ‘fraid for you, me neither. We shot you up to pieces, lef’ your body ‘pon de freezer like meat so when them violate, just know wha’ we pulling up with…” In another part of the riddim, he sings: “the old rusty rife with the knife ‘pon the tip’.”
One of the first to raise consternation was Home Affairs Minister Wilfred Abrahams, who said that the video was “irresponsible to the highest order.” Abrahams further expressed his point of view on Barbados TODAY, where he said that the government needed to send a firm message that these types of lyrics, especially as it pertains to killing informants, would not be entertained.
“Government does not condone the use of illegal firearms in any form or fashion. When you look at the video they have the guns showing off. While other people ’bout here fighting hard to reduce the incidence of violence in Barbados, they are promoting violence that can take the life of anybody, not just a policeman,” he said.
He added that if any of the artists were receiving funding from the government that it should be immediately cut. Of the artists on the riddim, Peter Ram and Mole are part of the Ministry of Education’s Anti-Violence and Peace campaign.
“This Government does not promote or support gun violence or retribution killings against anybody. The position of this government cannot and will not be to support any artiste who is involved in promoting gun violence. There is a place for artistic expression but then there is a time that that crosses over into irresponsibility, especially when you are considering what Barbados is going through at this particular point in time,” he added.
Following his comments PM of Barbados Mia Mottley also shared her anger on the matter. She said that she was horrified at the video and the lyrics and that she was “personally disappointed in the artists who have not recognized that there is an obligation on their part [to accept] that to whom much is given, much is expected.”
While many agreed with her statements that “there has to be a zero-tolerance approach to gun violence in this country. [We] cannot play light with issues such as this,” many others disagree with the sentiments of singling out dancehall music. At least one of the artists, Peter Ram, who is well known in the Caribbean, has apologized for his track “Roll Out” as he said it was “never [his] intention to offend anyone.”
The rest of the artists included on the project are Lil Rick, Mole, Screwface, Mallis, Lead Pipe, Brutal Crankstar, Chiief Diin, and Quan De Artist. They have all said they were not encouraging gun violence.
Corporate reaction to the fallout
Lead Pipe lost his Digicel Barbados contract following the fallout from the track. The company put out a statement ending his contract with them with immediate effect. That was on June 2, and they said it was because “his recent musical project does not align with our values.” They rethought their position on the matter and eventually offered him his contract back the next day, but he turned them down.
Lil Rick has remained defiant and defended the need for versatility as an artist. In a statement, he said: “Anyone who has followed my career would know that I originated from dancehall roots, so the genre is not one, which is foreign to me. Soca gave me an opportunity to rise to national prominence, but even in the Soca arena, I have always tried to remain true to who I am, where I have come from and to reflect what is happening in Barbadian society whether through the use of Bajan dialect or through the release of music which appeals to different demographics.”
A similar issue arose in Jamaica in late March when PM Andrew Holness condemned dancehall for glorifying violence and a gangster’s lifestyle. During a parliament session on March 30, he said: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Many fans remain divided on the issue. What’s your take on whether or not dancehall influences crime?
By the way, Rihanna wouldn’t agree with PM Mottley.
What Bajans are saying.
Tone deaf hypocrisy. That is what it is giving… but I am seeing disingenuous arguments on both sides. Of course music has an influence on its audience, but to scapegoat local artists in this way is unnecessary and unfair. Let’s talk about socioeconomic conditions…
— Sade N. Jemmott (@shazgem) June 2, 2021
How artists gotta make music in 2021 pic.twitter.com/FRcspx7Auv
— RoBeezy (@RoBeezy8) June 5, 2021
PM: apologise and take down the video.
Lil Rick: pic.twitter.com/hy7HONWopV
— SimplyDotish (@empressmediiic) June 3, 2021
A woman just say on Basstacks
“Music DOES NOT influence people cause my aunt does listen to Christian music everyday and she still wicked”
— mar. (@justleemar) June 2, 2021
I promise you, an AR-15 cannot come into Barbados in a suitcase. Make a newspaper article when you ready to talk about the rich people and the corrupt bureaucrats who are importing them.
— Wavez?? (@ocean_campbell1) June 2, 2021