Jamaicans love their reggae and dancehall music. They should, reggae is great music, likewise her younger offspring dancehall. This little island has created such a huge musical genre that transcends all borders and boundaries. However, as huge as reggae and it’s child dancehall have become, Jamaicans can be just as hugely hypocritical when discussing the superstars of the two genres.
Listen to most Jamaicans discussing Bob Marley or any other cultural Reggae artists and you will hear of promoters and supporters of peace, love, equal rights, justice, and everything positive. You will hear of great artists whose music are meant to trigger actions that will make this world a better place for all mankind. Jamaicans will tell you how their music is meant for us to resist Babylon and all Babylonian systems. It is meant for us to fight against oppression, discrimination, injustice, Government brutality, and all other ills of the world. In other words, reggae is an influential genre with extreme influence on those who hear and love the music—so influential that most Jamaicans will tell you that reggae played a major role in Zimbabwe gaining her independence and the ending of apartheid in South Africa. They are correct. That is what Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh, Sizzla, Capleton, Garnet Silk, and many other great reggae artist’s music is meant for; it is meant to influence change, positive change.
On the other hand, when you listen to most Jamaicans discussing Vybz Kartel or any other dancehall artists whose music can be deemed violence prone, these artists are no longer supporters or promoters of the things they are singing about. They are simply reporters of the streets, the garrisons, the ghettos. They are just product’s of their environments who are making music about what is happening in their environments. So although the lyrics might sound like they support the shooting and killing of people, it is really not; it is just letting you know that people are being shot and killed. A song about gunning down someone has absolutely no influence on the listener, it is just music. Songs glorifying gun violence by Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Sizzla, and others are meant to have no impact on society. There is absolutely no correlation between the high crime rate in Jamaica and the high rate of violent music being released in Jamaica. If by chance there is any correlation, it is the high rate of crime that forces entertainers to sing about filling people with lead including women, children, and the elderly. In no way does the violent music contribute to the crime rate.
So when a reggae or dancehall song is positive it has great influence and the artist is a supporter and promoter of the message within the song. When a reggae or dancehall song is negative it has no influence and the artist is just being a reporter. Hypocrisy at it’s best.
In most Jamaican’s rationale, this song influences people: Bob Marley – Get up, Stand up
In most Jamaicans rationale, this song does not influence people: Vybz Kartel – Garrison