Thu | Jan 17, 2019

George Davis | A culture of 'bad mind'

Published:Tuesday | October 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dancehall artiste I-Octane.

The concept of 'bad mind' continues to ruin Jamaican society in a way I think is lost on the majority of people. It is an interesting concept from the perspective of how it serves as motivation to some people while acting as a blight on the success and progress of others.

First, bad mind is the prime motivator behind the careers of most Jamaican dancehall DJs, featuring prominently in their songs and standing out as the main influence behind much of their lyrics, even their way of life.

Artistes like Bugle and I-Octane seem to have been particularly burnt by a sustained campaign of bad mind as perpetrated by former close friends and family members. The careers of both performers have produced multiple hits, most of which are lashing out at the cancerous effect of bad mind on their lives and livelihoods.

For those of you who shun dancehall music, I accept the task of informing you that without the concept of bad mind, manifested in the form of someone 'fighting' against them, many of the art form's clarion voices would have nothing to say, no message to transmit.

This is ironic because these artistes lament the damage of bad mind to their very existence. Yet without bad mind, they would be like birds without song.

I believe it is important to define and distinguish between 'bad mind' and the concept with which it is most conflated, envy. In Jamaica, bad mind and envy are treated as one and the same. But hear this: They are not.




Envy, in the simplest form of the definition, is when someone has something that you, too, wish you had. So, you are being envious when you see Abka Fitz-Henley in a Mercedes-Benz and wish that you, too, had a Mercedes-Benz. You see him driving that car, like what you see, then wish you could look as good as he does in the vehicle, swishing through traffic with the A/C high and a nice young miss by your side.

Bad mind, in the simplest form of the definition, is when you see Dennis Brooks in a BMW and wish it was you rather than he that had the BMW. You see Dennis in the car at a stop light and tell yourself that the car doesn't fit him and that you would look better than him strapped in the driver's seat.

You wish something would happen to cause Dennis to lose the car and if you could, you would take a piece of metal and scrawl the word 'FASSY' on the car bonnet, just so you could disfigure the appearance of the sleek paint job. Bad mind is such that were you to see Dennis riding a bicycle while the BMW was being repaired, you would wish him to fall from the bicycle or for someone to steal it when he parks it at home.

The upshot: There's nothing wrong with envy.

Envy is good because it motivates you to want to achieve what others have done before you, even as you applaud them for achieving it first. Envy is seeing a child under the age of seven speaking eloquently in a television commercial and taking steps to ensure your seven-year-old child speaks as well.

The problem with bad mind, beyond the obvious, is that people erect it as a barrier between themselves and others who they think are out to cause them harm. So, crucial advice is ignored because the person giving the advice is believed to be bad mind.

Simple compliments are brushed off because, again, the person giving the encomium is deemed to be praising you now as a means of gaining your trust in order to cause you harm in the future.

Positive criticism is rendered hostile because persons will ignore the essence of the message of the critic, choosing instead to label them as bad mind.

Is it any wonder then that so many people who have important interventions to make when they see others making mistakes choose to say and do nothing?


- George Davis is a broadcast executive producer and talk-show host. Email feedback to and