EXCLUSIVE: Singer Tarrus Riley speaks out on crime and violence in Jamaica

Jamaican entertainer Tarrus Riley says he’s embarrassed by the continued spike in crime and violence in his homeland and wants it to end.  It is with this scourge on his mind that he has written and released his new reggae/dancehall single, “Graveyard.”

Message to bad youth

In a recent exclusive interview with CNW, Riley says the song, released in the midst of the Christmas season in late December, is “to make the youth and the bad-man dem know that wicked man lay down in graveyard and if dem live by the gun they going die by the gun.”

Want song spread like a rumor

“I want this song to spread like a rumor, a positive rumor, that crime and violence make no sense,” said the ‘She’s Royal’ singer, adding that he wants the song to address crime globally and not just in Jamaica.  

Various reasons for crime

Riley believes there are various reasons for the rise in violent crime in Jamaica.  “People need health, education, housing and security, and some turn to crime when they get frustrated not getting these,” the Bronx-born, Jamaica-raised singer told CNW.

“The youth get frustrated too, especially when they are driven by ambition, and have nowhere to go. But the whole Jamaican society, home and abroad, need to address this problem. We, including, politician, police, pastors, parents, everyone, need to start the real conversation, recognize the social problems and stop being hypocrites.”

Turning to the current State of Emergency in St. James, Jamaica, Riley, says he believes it will help. “It’s never too late to intervene to correct the situation,” he said, but added that he is concerned that the SOE doesn’t escalate into conflicts between police and youth.  

Fighting between police and youth must stop

“The fighting between the youth and the police must stop,” Riley said. “Nobody wins in such situations. Nobody. The rude-boy them will die, and police will die. Is peace and understanding that’s needed.”

Jamaicans overseas must be engaged

Meanwhile, the singer, who is currently in studio working on a new album to be released later this year, also had a message for Jamaicans living in the US and overseas. “When I hear Jamaicans abroad say they don’t want to go home because of crime, I wonder, because people in Jamaica have to live there among the crime. Although Jamaicans live abroad, they too need to get involved in the conversation to see crime and violence gone,” he added.

Riley’s new album, he says, will reflect “positivity” and creativity in different genres – rock-ballad, dancehall, lovers-rock and reggae.  “I am still a youth, and I want my music to influence positivity,” he added. “My music will never change. Music must never be negative. My music, my lyrics will always be positive.”

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