Bad Music? Dancehall said to cause evil stir
A week after the Islamic Council of Jamaica warned that dancehall music should be avoided, as listeners may come under the influence of evil spirits, several artistes and producers are refuting these claims.
In a Sunday Gleaner interview, published June 4, 2015, Dr Sulaiman Tijani explained that the negative values portrayed in dancehall music made it a most egregious art form, and is the direct result of the influence of evil spirits.
"There are songs that people sing only because they hear it over and over again, but if they should stop and look at the words, they would say, 'Why am I even singing this?' But it is the destructive elements of these songs which have a way of permeating the mind and causing the individual to act in certain negative ways. And so, in Islam, music is something that we tend to avoid," Tijani said.
Dancehall producer DJ Frass, who produced several singles for dancehall artiste Alkaline, said that nothing could be further from the truth.
"I also write songs for artistes, and a majority of artistes write from personal experience. That is what influences us. It is careless for him to make that statement. I am a religious person. I believe in God 100 per cent, as do a majority of artistes," Frass told The Gleaner.
DJ Frass went on to say that evil spirits have been around long before the existence of dancehall music and that singling out this specific genre is biased.
"He is being naive. Evil spirits have been around a very long time. Dancehall music did not create them. I am sure dem nah play nuff dancehall songs inna the Middle East, and who more evil than them?" Frass questioned.
focus on good
Veteran dancehall artiste Ninja Man also spoke out in defence of dancehall music. According to him, more emphasis should be placed on the good that has happened because of dancehall music.
"Dancehall cannot be blamed for corrupting people. Deejays are singing about what is taking place in the country, so how evil spirit a come out a we experiences? Dancehall is a genre that has created income for many of the people that society has thrown aside. A me use dancehall and bring peace inna the 1980 election. Why dem nuh look pon the good side? Give us a break," he stated.
Ninja Man added that warning individuals to avoid dancehall music is irresponsible and classism.
"Because we a live inna the same community and a drive the same car, dem a come talk 'bout we a unleash spirit pon people. I am a man of God, I don't believe in religion because that is confusion. I believe in God and I am here to do God's work. He (Dr Sulaiman Tijani) needs to focus on his religion and stop the foolishness," Ninja Man said.
While agreeing that dancehall music is indeed controversial, dancehall artiste Gage, who has been touted as Vybz Kartel's protoge, strongly refuted Dr Sulaiman Tijani's claims.
"He's using his personal feelings towards the genre to judge it. So, there's no evil spirit in rock and roll and hip hop? You have worse genres than dancehall. I agree that dancehall stands out and that lawyers, doctors, teachers and Christians always have a problem with dancehall, even though dancehall nuh have no problem with them," he said.
This is not the first time that dancehall has come under attack from religious groups.
In 2009, the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) added to an ongoing debate surrounding the purification of Jamaican dancehall music, with the organisation calling for a further ban to be placed on street and community dances, which perpetuate the playing of sexually crude and explicit songs.
"We have successfully created an appetite for looseness among so many of our children that they innocently and uncritically gobble up every meal of it that is presented," the council stated.
Dancehall music's negative influences have also come under attack from within dancehall as well. In 2012, Bounty Killer bitterly criticized fellow artiste Tommy Lee, for using the 'Uncle Demon' moniker.
"A when since yuh can just come inna dancehall and a bring een demon people freely so? How long we have we dancehall nice and pure ... some a dem too bright, and no big man inna dancehall nah stand up and tell dem say dat nuh accepted. People mi fight fi dancehall wid me life and career, dem nah mash it up enuh," Bounty Killer tweeted.
Producer Skatta Burrell was also critical of the 'Uncle Demon'.
"Cyah believe Jamaicans are inviting the devil into our blessed country. Hope when destruction start tek we, unuh nuh call pan Jah fi help," he tweeted.