The LGBT community once labeled Reggae Music as “Murder Music” and in the process tried to stop some reggae artistes from touring and performing in certain countries. That movement became started as a result of the gay community deeming that some reggae songs were promoting the murder of homosexuals.
Reggae Music is at the point now, however, where artistes, producers, promoters, fans and all other stakeholders must ask the question; has the music we love really become murder music?
We can no longer dig our heads in the sand and pretend that the music has no impact on people’s behavior or that there is no correlation between Jamaica’s runaway crime rate and the excess amount of violence in the music.
Right now, the man who is considered by many to be the greatest dancehall reggae artiste ever, Vybz Kartel, is serving a life sentence for murder. Also convicted and serving a life sentence for the same murder case on which Kartel was convicted his dancehall artiste, Shawn Storm. Meanwhile, the man who is considered to be the greatest dancehall clash deejay of all time, Ninja Man, is also serving a life sentence for murder.
If that’s not enough, the artiste who introduced auto-tune to dancehall reggae, Munga Honorable, is free on bail while awaiting his court date to face murder charges.
The hottest dancehall artiste right now, Alkaline, was arrested and questioned for murder, however, he was not charged.
Last year, Mavado’s car was shot at while he was in it. The deejay’s son is now in jail facing murder charges and it is alleged that the murder charge is tied to the same incident where Mavado was shot at.
It is no secret that when it comes to dancehall reggae, it is good to be bad. Artistes like Josey Wales, Supercat and Eek-A-Mouse were revered as being rude boys, however, the essence of their music was to promote unity and not the violence and destruction we hear in dancehall songs today.
Dancehall culture is so entrenched in the Jamaican lifestyle that it has become more than just music, it is actually the way of life. There is no trend in dancehall reggae that is not reflected in Jamaica’s everyday life. Likewise if something is trending in Jamaica, you can bet your paycheck that it will be put to song by a dancehall reggae artiste.
So it begs to reason that should dancehall reggae become more about love, peace and unity and less about shooting and killing, we would see a drop in crime on the island. Of course that is putting a lot of pressure on dancehall artistes but that is how important and special dancehall reggae is to the way of life in Jamaica.
In a recent survey, it was shown that young Jamaicans actually adore Vybz Kartel more than Bob Marley. So imagine if Vybz Kartel started to make songs of love and unity instead of sex, murder and mayhem? Jamaica would be nice again.
There are those who say that Jamaica is a very violent country and thus the music is a reflection of the violence. Maybe that is partly true but who says dancehall reggae has to be part of the problem? Why can’t it be the solution?