Hennessy Fyah and the Gentrification of Dancehall Reggae.

Henessy Fyah
Henessy Fyah

Dancehall artist, Hennessy Fyah, has been catching a lot of flak lately and it is not just criticism of her music but even some borderline hateful remarks. Not only is Hennessy Fyah in a male dominated genre, she is a white female meddling in Black Culture.

Dancehall fans say if Hennessy Fah was as good as Spice or Macka Diamond, she would be embraced by dancehall but she is not. So should white people only be allowed to do dancehall if they are good or have a hit song? Or should white artists be able to suck at dancehall just like some Black artists suck at it. I have never heard of Snow, Collie Buddz, Rebelution or Dominic being called culture vultures, yet the term was used to describe Hennessy Fyah on many occasions.

Let’s take a look at Hennessy Fyah, a pale Dutch white girl who deejays with a “fake” accent. But if people are going to call her accent fake then what about Dominic’s or even Rodigan the great selector? If there was a dancehall hall of fame, Rodigan would be in it without question, so it cannot be just about the accent. Some will say she doesn’t ride the riddim well and her delivery is off. That may be true also, but I can list of plethora of artists who were not great riddim riders or whose flow was not that good.

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Yet every time we post a video of her, the comments are filled up with such hate and disdain for this woman, who is simply playing her part in this whole game called the music industry. It’s what she represents that people have a problem with, but many don’t really seem to know why they dislike someone like Hennessy. They don’t have reasons that go any deeper than “she’s white” and she’s “cheapening dancehall.” These are not just comments from black music fans, but all types of fans. But what’s floating in their subconscious that many aren’t able to pinpoint is that they dislike her because she represents something like a parody of dancehall, yet seems to be universally accepted in Europe.

To many dancehall fans, the only reason Hennessy Fyah could have stepped foot in someone’s studio, much less recorded on producers’ “riddims” is because she is white. For a Black woman with Hennessy’s Fyah level of talent to gain access to a recording studio she would either have to have a lot of money or open her legs. This is the feeling that many dancehall fans have. Seeing Hennessy Fyah with millions of views is like seeing the great Beres Hammond with zero Grammys while Ziggy Marley has about 333. We might be off in Ziggy’s Grammy count as we stopped counting at two as that was too many.

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At the end of the day, even though dancehall fans constantly refer to Hennessy Fyah’s complexion, they don’t dislike her for that. They dislike the fact that the shine that she is getting is less than her talent warrants. If Hennessy Fyah could deejay like former Lady Saw, she probably would have been embraced like Eminem is embraced in hip-hop. However, fans believe she lacks talent and therefore see her as gentrifying the dancehall culture, the type of gentrification they won’t tolerate.



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