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Young gal business runs Ja

Published:Sunday | December 14, 2014 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
File Cocoa Tea
File Shabba Ranks
File Buju Banton

Older men - much older men and younger - much younger women is a staple in a society where relationships are often organised on a financial transaction basis.

Far from turning away from a phenomenon which often sees a girl having a relationship with a man who is older than her father, in dancehall, the much-vaunted "young gal business" is celebrated.

That is the title of Chakademus' 1980s track, which makes a direct link between the relationship between man and woman and the connection between man and automobile. Chaka (as a solo artiste and not part of the duo with Pliers) sings:

"Young gal business control Jamaica

Gal a rule man whe drive BM and Mazda

Gal a rule man whe drive Toyota Corolla"

Of course, the power relations are stated explicitly and, maybe, unexpectedly. It is not the man who controls the 'gal', but the 'gal' who controls the man.

Then there is the classic Twice My Age by Shabba Ranks and Krystal, in which, unlike the Chakademus song, the woman actually has a voice. Here, it is not simply an observation of what is happening in the society, but the active participation of an enthusiastic 'young gal' persona who sings:

"I'm in love with a man who is twice my age

Don't know what it is

But it's a hit from my youthful days,

As I go my way, I don't care what people say,

I'm in love with a man nearly twice my age"

And then Shabba endorses it with the deejay statement that not only does the girl not want any "idle jubie" (shiftless boy), but she wants a man who can "let off recumpense" (provide her with money). He goes further in making the comparison:

"Young man have strength but that is not sense...

She want a man fi pay light bill and rent....

Dung di line you pocket haffi have length"

Still, it is not all about money as Krystal sings that the older guy "stood up for me when no one cared".

In all fairness, though, there is a statement of a limit to the "young gal business", as Buju and Cocoa Tea establish an age limit that is higher than the official age of consent. Cocoa Tea croons that "this one is designed for 18 and over" and advises, "Girl, won't you go home to your Mama, you're too young to be my lover".

Reinforcing the sentiment, Buju deejays: "Woman, yu pretty but de dread no response/What him looking at is a life sentance."

Taking the age further down, Buju asks a question that is on the mind of any father worth his salt. He asks: "How it a go go? Head haffi go roll if bway moles' mi five year ol'."

Serious thing!