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Archived: Soca, Carnival Culture Called Into Question as Jamaicans Continue Uproar Over Kartel’s Music and Ability to Record

Jamaica has had two weeks of bantering over the ability of incarcerated entertainer, Vybz Kartel, to record and release music, while behind bars. The 41-year-old Portmore, Jamaica dancehall heavyweight is serving a lifetime imprisonment sentence for the murder of his associate Clive “Lizard” Williams. Despite this fact, the ‘Pon Di Gaza’ singer has released more than 50 new tracks in 2016 alone.

Lisa Hanna questions the freedom to record music while behind bars in Jamaica.

Recently, Jamaica’s former culture minister and sitting member of parliament, Lisa Hanna insinuated that Kartel, whose real name is Adidjah Palmer, had been contributing to societal decay via the music that is aired in Jamaica. She had been speaking about the need to instill better values in the country’s youth – values, she said, would be at odds with the music that’s played on the radio.

The backlash soon came. Threats from fans of the artiste, were posted and in some cases, later deleted, on social media. The Jamaican Constabulary subsequently said it would be actively pursuing malicious, defamatory and threatening social media posts, including those against Hanna. In response to the uproar over her vocal stance and subsequent indication that she is prepared to discuss and come to a decision on the issue of incarcerated artistes being allowed to record and release music, which is then played on radio, the former beauty queen reiterated that while she loves dancehall music, data confirms that violent and sexually explicit lyrics have negatively influenced many Jamaican youths.

“I’m an unapologetic lover of music including dancehall. But there’s no necessity for some artists to use music as a medium for promoting violence and abuse of women. The data confirm that violent and sexually explicit lyrics have negatively influenced many Jamaican youth’s thought processes through increased feelings of hostility and aggression. These negative influences are exacerbated when we turn a blind eye to radio airplay of new productions by persons we know are incarcerated so may have been abetted by corruption in our prison system. This reality necessitates us being urgently honest with ourselves. We should be prepared to have a national discussion about messages glorifying criminality being conveyed to our children that’ll ultimately bring deleterious consequences. These messages have been pushing us towards a different society from the one in which we all say we want to live… I pray that all Jamaicans who value common decency will find the courage to push back against this new normal and defend Jamaica’s true culture. If we lose this battle, however unpopular the battle or its choosing may be, we will have lost Jamaica.”-Lisa Hanna 

On her Instagram page, beneath a post in which Hanna sought to explain herself further on the topic, one person commented:

“This hypocrite is in Trinidad for Carnival. The nice, clean, christian Carnival which has no sexual innuendos or overtures or naked people roaming the streets. Dancehall, which is held nightly, in venues and closed out from the public is dirty, but carnival where ppl bare all and battyman up n down a whine up is clean?” – jammageneral(IG)

Ninja Man

Veteran dancehall act, Ninja Man also spoke up. He went in on fans of the locked-up singer, saying “Some a you guys are waste matter and only love chat. All of you talking about Gaza this and Gaza that, no Gaza can’t hit me in my face because you guys try that already and have to pay me three million dollars and have to do a bag of something because Gaza is not as big as the whole world its a big empty land.”

He also said Hanna should leave dancehall artistes alone, suggesting that there were double standards being perpetrated, referring to soca music that’s played on the airwaves and the carnival dress code.

Meanwhile, Kartel’s book,  “The Voice of The Jamaican Ghetto” has reportedly seen increased sales over the past few weeks, his team attributing it to the recent controversies involving Hanna.

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