“Vybz Kartel recording music from behind bars” is a hot topic and there is a plethora of views and opinions regarding it’s appropriateness. The issue is so poignant that Jamaica’s Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hannah recently felt the need to weigh-in on the situation. She’s not impressed and that’s putting it lightly.
It should be noted that this matter is currently being evaluated by Department of Corrections; who knows what the outcome will be, but in the mean time, let’s look at the current state of affairs. Representatives for Vybz Kartel’s have categorically denied this assumption, but it’s widely believed that ‘the deejay’ has in fact, voiced many tracks behind bars. The context of several newly released tracks are way to current to have been voiced prior to his imprisonment. Anyhow, let’s move on
PROS & CONS
1. Some take issue with the fact that Vybz Kartel continues to make money while serving a life sentence, giving off the appearance he’s not really being punished. Truth is, he is behind bars, possibly for the rest of his natural life – Isn’t that the harshest punishment outside of the death penalty (which is not applicable in his country)?
2. Others are saying it’s a slap in the face of the victim’s family. Okay fair enough; why not advocate for the victim’s family to reap some of the benefits? How does Kartel being barred from making music benefit anyone?
3. Another concern surrounds Vybz Kartel’s musical content being negative, socially irresponsible and even labeled as outright evil. Also a fair criticism; what if he’s allowed to record with a stipulation that says the production and content must be clean and positive in nature?
AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
What is being proposed here is that we practically analyze this situation – emotions and personal feelings aside, let’s ask ourselves what good does it do to restrain Vybz Kartel’s mind, when his physical movement and freedom has already been restrained? If he’s a murderer, his body is where it belongs, in captive. He does have a family, children who are not guilty of his crimes! When we advocate for the blocking of his ability to make music/profit, we automatically advocate for his children/family not to be fed.
Take Reggae Artist Jah Cure for instance, he was allowed to voice multiple albums while incarcerated; proceeds of his songs were used to improve the rehabilitation programmes. In fact, Jah Cure became famous while in prison which made his reintegration back to society a lot more seamless. Obviously, Vybz Kartel is serving a longer sentence so he will essentially be an old man by the time he’s released but the same measures can be extended to him with the following conditions: (a) he only records positive music and (b) the proceeds divided between his family, the victim’s family and the prison rehabilitation programme.
We don’t seem to realize that a major responsibly of the state, when an individual is sentenced to a term of incarceration, is the responsibility to reform; sentencing is not just about punishment. Therefore, an inmate can be permitted to pursue his/her passion while paying their debt to society. The victim is not further harmed by this and society benefits.
This all or nothing approach “the majority” is taking is counterintuitive. Vybz Kartel is arguably one of the most talented artist in Dancehall. He is clearly still motivated and passionate where music is concerned. He’s a major resource for capital. Dancehall needs him and so does his family which includes some young children who need to be provided for. Allowing him to continue to record with specific conditions is a WIN WIN situation.
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