‘Dancehall artistes don’t condone rape’ – But encouraged to be mindful of song lyrics

Rapists are often ostracised by dancehall entertainers, who call on the society to weed them out and inflict the harshest punishment imaginable by man.

But although the genre demonises rapists, most dancehall artistes are known to produce songs that objectify women, painting them as sexual beings whose only purpose is to fulfil the sexual desires of men, even when they are not up for it.

So are dancehall entertainers the best vessels to transport messages lashing rapists?The question follows a video post by dancehall entertainer, Popcaan on the weekend.

“Unu bboclt raper bwoy … no weh inna Jamaica unu nuh legal innu. Prime Minister affi heng some a unu a clock tower innu youth and set a example innu because unu a get outta hand all over again from weh day bredda and we affi gang up and kill out dem rapist yah together innu,” he said.

His message was endorsed by several other entertainers including Aidonia, Dre Island, Romain Virgo, Nesbeth and Jesse Royal.

In an interview with THE STAR, radio disc jock ZJ Sparks said she was happy to see Popcaan speaking out about the issue.

She expressed that despite some of their lyrical content and the image they portray on stage, dancehall artistes usually have their bearings straight about serious issues, including rape.

“For the most part, I don’t know of many songs in dancehall which encourage men to take a woman’s dignity by force. Jamaica is a seemingly heterosexual society … so they’re going to have those lyrics that encourage men to look woman or get woman fi do things,” she said. “He (Popcaan) is seen as a fun type artiste for the most part, jocular. So for him to take time out to speak seriously on an issue negatively impacting our society and other societies worldwide, it was good to see. He is not speaking as Popcaan. I think he’s speaking as Andre Sutherland (the artiste’s given name); Andre Sutherland the father, the brother, the uncle, the Jamaican.”

PORTRAY WOMEN

Popular selector Tony Matterhorn, in response to THE STAR’s enquiry about a particular line in a popular Buju Banton song ( Gyal me serious me affi get yuh tonight, affi get yuh body even by gunpoint), explained that even if artistes portray women as sexual beings to be ‘owned’ by men, their lyrics are metaphorical, not literal.

“An artiste, even if him sing say Affi get yuh body by gunpoint or whatever, he doesn’t necessarily mean that; it’s just lyrical. Music is like poetry,” he said. “At the end of the day, all of the artiste dem have family members, dem have daughters, dem have sisters, dem have mothers, aunties, and so dem nah go uphold rape. Some a di song dem make it seem like dancehall artiste would condone rape but none of them do. Dem just make a song and dem wah the song have a hype, so dem say something out of the box not knowing say somebody a go take it literally.”

The selector therefore urged artistes to be more careful when constructing lyrics.

DJ Lux agreed, saying it was good to see artistes stand up against rapists.

“But they must also be careful of the lyrics weh dem put inna dem song because me can recall artiste weh incite rape before inna him lyrics for past songs,” he said. “Me understand the difference between metaphors innu but a lot of persons don’t. Dem a go just take it plain and simple as according to how the artiste say it.”

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