Is dancehall at its lowest ebb?

BY Karyl Walker

While non-Jamaican artists such as Drake, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Liam Payne (formerly of the group One Direction) are cashing in on the dancehall beat that originated from that Caribbean island, the future for homegrown acts looks bleak.

The influence of dancehall was evident during the recent BET Music Awards in Los Angeles. The beat has been so adapted by mainstream pop culture that corporate giants Coca Cola, a major sponsor of the event, ran an advertisement using the dancehall-flavored song (I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times) by Young Thugz featuring Jamie Foxx.

But in Jamaica, where close to 700 murders have been committed since the start of 2017, major artistes seem to have lost sight of the big picture.

Vybz Kartel, its biggest name, is in prison for murder with little hope for freedom. He has an appeal hearing before the courts in a few months.

His likely successor, Alkaline and another rising DJ, Masicka, are under the police microscope after two music videos surfaced with questionable scenes.

The videos, Afterall by Alkaline and Infrared by Masicka, depict thugs toting high-powered weapons and glorifying criminality.

In Afterall, a woman dressed in a police uniform, appears to be performing a sexual act on Alkaline.

There are other persons dressed in police uniforms and what appears to be a marked police vehicle in the film.

Jamaica’s police commissioner has ordered a probe into the video and ordered that the ‘actors’ be found and questioned.

He has promised disciplinary action against members of the force who played a part in the visual.

The message of Masicka’s single leans towards robbery, as the deejay repeatedly spews, “My dog dem haffi live’. Men are seen robbing an armored vehicle in the flick.

This has drawn the attention of Jamaica’s Firearm Licensing Authority which is investigating if the guns, ammunition and armored vehicle involved were authorized.

All this controversy while overseas acts like Drake and Rihanna are laughing all the way to the bank.

It is clear that Jamaican dancehall artists need to pull up their socks. Instead of concentrating on cashing in on dancehall’s global appeal, they seem hell-bent on promoting everything that is wrong with Jamaica.

Is dancehall at its lowest ebb?

 

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