It’s easy to blame the degradation of dancehall culture on Vybz Kartel. After all, every despicable act that was once forbidden or frowned upon in dancehall is now celebrated and accepted.
Vybz Kartel made it cool to be a freak in dancehall. As a result it is now difficult to draw the line between a dancehall club and a go-go club. Vybz Kartel made it acceptable to bleach your skin and destroy your melanin. But did Vybz Kartel actually introduce these things to dancehall or did he merely make them cool?
Let’s face it, bleaching existed in Jamaica long before Vybz Kartel or even Addi Banton’s music was dominating Jamaican airwaves. In the early 90s, Nardo Ranks had a hit song called “them a bleach” which called out the girls who were bleaching their skin “to look like a browning”. So bleaching has been popular among some Jamaican women for a long time. Maybe Vybz Kartel is responsible for its rising popularity among men. But could it be that the men who are now bleaching, always wanted to bleach their skin and Vybz Kartel made it easier for them to do so without the backlash?
Before Vybz Kartel there were two types of Jamaican women. Jamaican women who did not perform oral sex and Jamaican woman who would never admit that they perform oral sex. Today there are two types of Jamaican women. Jamaican women who do not perform oral sex and Jamaican women who use bottles to show you how they perform oral sex. It is fair to say the women who are now showing you how they do it, were always doing it, just never admitting to it. Vybz Kartel made it cool for a lady to go down on a man and not feel ashamed about it, but rather proud.
The ills that have took over and continue to plague dancehall culture has continued even after Vybz Kartel’s incarceration. It is like before Kartel was arrested, he went on top of the dancehall mountain, lift up his dancehall crown and said, “let Alkaline and Gage be born”. Furtyle Brain must have thought the World Boss said, “Let the Satan be born” because he showed up with horns.
So it is fair to say that Vybz Kartel did not bring these ills into dancehall, he just made them cool. That which was already inside of people closeted and chained up, he liberated and freed. Now that these ills are taking over dancehall and spreading like a wildfire; the question now becomes, can artists like Jesse Royal, Protoje, Sizzla, Chronixx, Capleton, I-Wayne and others put these filth back in the closets or clean them up all together?