Dancehall artist Valiant has stirred controversy with his new song “Dunce Cheque” after criticism from a government minister that he was promoting illiteracy.
The rising deejay, however, says he is not fazed by the remarks and shares his hope of becoming a mainstream artist as he explains that his song is not promoting rampant illiteracy. This week, Minister with responsibility for information Robert ‘Nesta’ Morgan singled out Valiant’s lyrics to the song “Dunce Cheque,” noting that artists were now glorifying illiteracy and lack of ambition.
“I heard my son playing a YouTube video, and he wasn’t playing it because he looked for it, he was just on his tablet, and I heard, ‘Bounce cheque inna account and mek mi skull upset. [None a unuh] nuh know dunce yet, back a di class mi nah nuh subject,’ and I wonder when did dunce become fashionable?” Nesta Morgan said in a video.
In an exclusive interview with Urban Islandz, 24-year-old Valiant, whose real name is Raheem Bowes, disputes that he is telling young people to be ‘dunce’, a colloquial term for someone being unintelligent or stupid. Rather, the artist explains that he’s turned something negative into positive acceptance.
“Well Calling people dunce was used as a way to discourage or hurt feelings of the youth so [I] thought of a way to give kids confidence if they are called dunce. I want them to know that they can brush off being called dunce and make fun of it because it won’t stop them from achieving their goals.”
The artist added that he had seen the reactions to his song but doesn’t believe it was conveying the wrong message.
“No kids won’t think that way of it. The kids have been taking it for a joke and know how to interpret it so far based on the feedback we’ve gotten.”
Bowes shared that he was raised in Manning’s Hill, Kingston, and as a child, he was exposed to music in church and at school. The father of one became well-known following the “Katch E Hat” slang that came from a TikTok video going viral while shooting a music video for his track “Sciance.”
In the meantime, the music video for “Dunce Cheque” was released shortly after minister Morgan’s remarks and now has almost a million views in three days.
The artist, who has 121,000 subscribers on YouTube, also teased a new track on his Instagram account on Saturday (Nov. 12), where he seemingly responds to Morgan and speaks about the issues children and young adults many call “dunce” face.
“Please don’t judge me, just left school and nah nuh subject. Don’t call me no duncehead, I’m a work in progress. Still have to come out to be something, feel fi build a boat and run weh, Nothing nah gwan inna the country…” the artist sings.
Valiant has already released songs like “North Carolina”, “St. Mary,” and other songs and says that he has an upcoming EP.
He also shares that since his overnight fame and success, he has received much love and support from the younger and older generation of artists and has his eyes set on an international career.
“Being a dancehall artist, I want to get dancehall music more recognized globally meaning on every chart and in every corner of the world. A lot [of] new artists inspire me to keep consistent and bring our new form of dancehall music called trap dancehall to the world at large,” he said.
Valiant says he is inspired by artists like Vybz Kartel and Mavado, and his dream collaboration is with Jay-Z.