Vybz Kartel raised his concerns about the low streaming numbers on some of his recent music uploaded on his YouTube channel. It appears that other dancehall artists, including Baby Cham and Tommy Lee Sparta, have the same concerns.
The incarcerated dancehall star shared a screenshot of the total views that five of his recent uploads received over the past couple of weeks. Vybz Kartel highlighted some discrepancies in the total streams over a period of time. Among the songs he shared are “Temptation,” featuring Roxxie and Yowlevite, which received 779K views in three weeks, “3 Little Birds” getting a little over 1 million views in two weeks, the Likkle Vybz-assisted single “Daddy Was A Pilot” getting 394K views in 1 week. His latest single, “Like Semper Fi,” got a cumulative 230K views in around five days.
Of course, there is always the issue of fans liking some songs and music videos than others, but Vybz Kartel pointed out that he has over 2.2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, VybzKartelRadio. Given that he is used to seeing much stronger numbers than these, the Gaza Boss says he suspects that there may be some form of tampering going on.
“GAZA unuh notice Anytime a bagga song start drop, someone or a group a person start do somn to VYBZKARTELVEVO?” he wrote on IG. “2.2 MIL Loyal Subscribers but 40k inna 2 day pon a bad song wid a sexy video ? A nuh dat .. tell dem fi stop the world from say #GAZANATION.”
Baby Cham quickly hopped in the comments and added, “Dem a try hurt di music.”
Cham wasn’t alone as Tommy Lee Sparta, who is currently incarcerated, added his two cents. “Happen to me all the time me g till me a wanda if corona a dead off e people dem are some artist a buy out the views dem,” the Mobay deejay wrote.
While some fans seem to generally agree that something fishy is going on, some folks pointed out that Vybz Kartel’s popularity among the core dancehall fanbase may be dwindling. That might not be the case since other dancehall acts are also seeing unusually lower streaming numbers on the video sharing platform.
For the past decade, YouTube has been a key player in the dancehall space as most artists tend to get most of their streams on the platform that is littered with dancehall music going as far back as the 80s. There is also a large catalog of juggling riddims and DJ mixtapes compiling dancehall hits over the years. It’s commonplace for fans to hop on YouTube and find a dancehall playlist when they’re hosting private parties.
So the question now is, why the sudden shift to declining numbers artists are experiencing now. A part of it, as Tommy Lee Sparta alludes to, could be caused by the ongoing health crisis that claimed the lives of millions of people. It’s not just deaths, but the general disruption in people’s lives making them consume less music. Even big name artists, except maybe Drake, are currently experiencing a dip in streaming numbers.
There is also the issue of artists hardly getting to tour to further promote their music to fans and folks going to fewer parties where they usually also discover new music. Indeed, Vybz Kartel has been incarcerated for the past decade, but Gaza fans would typically hear the hottest and latest Kartel songs at parties locally and overseas. Now the dancehall legend has to rely solely on his subscribers discovering his new music organically on social media.
Perhaps something is happening behind the scenes like censorship or other roadblocks, or it could be a combination of things. But one thing is quite clear, the streaming numbers across the dancehall space on YouTube are lower than usual.
Baby Cham and Spice recently released their new music video, “Condence Milk,” which received over 500K views in around a week. Tommy Lee Sparta also has new music out, so maybe he is also seeing lower numbers on those.