Jamaica: Explicit music banned

The long-standing controversy over the appropriateness of certain music for public airplay has once again reared its head in Jamaica. Following public discussion about a recent release by Vybz Kartel and Spice entitled “Rampin’ Shop”, the lyrics of which are particularly explicit, the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission announced a ban on all sexually explicit music deemed inappropriate for airplay. This ban went into effect on February 6, 2009 and covered all songs that promote the act of “daggering”, as well as any songs that use editing techniques to remove expletives and other lewd content.

Jamaican blogger, Girl with a Purpose notes that while she does think the ban will be effective in reducing the lewd music that is heard “for probably 50% of the time…via radio and television”, a large part of the responsibility lies with the adults of our society, especially parents, who need to censor themselves and realize that:

To expose their young children to lewd and explicit music, thus making them prematurely ready and aware of sex and violent acts, is wrong.

Another trend in these discussions is the issue of other musical genres besides dancehall (i.e. soca and calypso, hip hop, rap etc.), especially as Jamaica enters its Carnival season – a time when imported soca music takes centre stage across the island. Amidst cries of hypocrisy by several Jamaican artistes who feel that dancehall is being unfairly singled out, MadBull, a Jamaican blogger in Cayman, writes that he fully supports the ban and thinks it should be extended to any genre of music being considered for public airplay. He exclaims on his blog:

What about soca and hip hop and so on? I don’t care what the genre is! If the lyrics dutty, drop dem too! That's what I think! 

Outspoken Jamaican blogger, Agostinho, published on his blog a letter he submitted to the editors of various local media in which he discusses the need for dancehall to revamp its image. While he acknowledges the place of dancehall music in Jamaican society and its importance as the centre of popular culture, he feels that dancehall has a responsibility to the society from which it springs to reform its image…

not just in the interests of practicality given its increased powers of importance in the society, but also as a means of demonstrating its inherent versatility/creativity. The latter, as we are aware, goes beyond a focus on only themes of sex and violence. Excuses regarding a chronic lack of education on the part of many of its producers and artistes are an insult to the diversity of intelligence and depth of talent within the industry/culture. These must yield to the more urgent demands of true national development, cultural pride and meaningful progress. 

Stunner's Afflictions also explains his thoughts on the ban. He fully supports the move by the Broadcasting Commission, noting that it was long overdue:

It is their job to police what is good for public broadcast as prescribed by Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations. So why did they have to wait on public outcry and pressure for them to take a step to ban such material? What have they been doing and what are they doing, for my hard earned taxpayer dollars? The Broadcasting Commission need to pull up their socks and this incident really shows them up.

His followup post on Valentine's Day sought to remind readers of a crucial point: 

Not all of our Dancehall/Reggae music is less than desirable. There are still very good songs being played on our airwaves.

He goes on to share a video example of one such song, “Love Reigns” by Tarrus Riley and Bugle, two of Jamaica's newer artistes.

Since this public ban on explicit music, support has begun for more positive products to come out of the Jamaican entertainment industry. YardFlex, tagging itself as the Ultimate Jamaican Entertainment Magazine, reported recently on Tychicus, a self-described healer and prophet who staged a one-man protest last year against “daggering”, and who has since come out with some clean dances that he says are inspired by the Almighty. 

This discussion is ongoing as the ban is only 10 days old and the full implementation and its effects are yet to be seen. Jamaican bloggers have all come out in full support of the ban, and see this as a time for Jamaican artistes to step up and prove their creativity to the world.


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  • George

    I agree that bad music should be banned since it doesnt help the general public of Jamaica or any other country. We all need Psalms, Hymns,and Spiritual songs,Gods music.We can also come to have the new song by repenting of our sins against God our Creator and trusting the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour and God.Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,and thy house.The Authoried King James Holy Bible of1611 is Gods preserved word in English language.Thank You,very kindly,

  • NotUrAverage

    This is not about Jamaicans or race…this is about right and wrong…Im sorry, but Im much more frightened of those slasher rock bands that talk about disfiguring people, being sadistically evil against what is differnt, and glorifying satanism….To me thats a true abomination, where as Hip Hop and Reggae is based on poor people struggling to survive in an overly aggressive place and identifying with there struggle…they just say what they feel they have to and they should…the degrading of women was popular long b4 hip hop and reggae through rock…but who talks about that…violence…well, if thats what u see every day where u live, and if u feel that if u dont speak like u would do the same thing that u saw sumone do, but still knew it was wrong, then it could happen to you, can u really blame them…and the gay thing, well…sum people were raised one way and reLLY dont know any better, the Jamaican cultur is highly against gays and thats just the way it is…can anyone get mad at the Jews for saying if ur not Jewish ur going to hell…or Christianity or Islam for that matter…? its all a matter of opinion, dont ban the music, try to understand the culture, theres more to reggea hip hop and other black music then Bling Bling, shoot em up, and lets all F*ck these B*tches…it just doesnt get mainstream radio play…I am a Jamaican that loves all types of music, I dont promote negativity and I seldom listen to music that tells me that being negative is good…but I must admit that I love sex, drugs and guns in movies….so whats worse…? the 10 highest paid musicians that get promoted to glorify guns, violence, anti gay & degrading of women to the people that want to hear it, tune in to the radio stations, buy tickets to concerts or purchase the CDs …or the TV and movie makers that promote those very same things but even more graphically as they include imagery and advertising that make it even look better to children and adults alike…actually to everyone that has a TV and watches commercials and movies on them…? If you want to talk about wrong, we should start there…Music is all about self expression, negative or positive, right or wrong…it cant really be judged cause its personal preference…If you dont want to hear it or see it, dont promote or support it…Now, for the people that for what ever reason do support it and promote it, its there choice to subject themselves to it…God gave us choice, and it shouldnt be judged or taken away, cause wheres the freedom and democracy in that!?!

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