Mon | Jun 17, 2019

NY Radio Jock takes stand against songs that bash police

Published:Wednesday | February 13, 2019 | 12:06 AM
Irie Jam disc jock Dubbmaster Chris
Queen Ifrica
Vybz Kartel
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A New York radio disc jock is in the middle of the imposition of a one-month ban on songs that show disrespect to members of the police force. Caught up in that hit list, compiled by Christopher ‘Dubbmaster Chris’ McDonald, a senior broadcaster and disc jockey at Irie Jam Radio, are tracks like Babylon City from dancehall favourite Vybz Kartel and Serve and Protect from conscious singer Queen Ifrica, who lashed out against “bad man police” in her 2010 single.

The award-winning radio jock told The Gleaner that the decision was made with the support from Irie Jam Radio executives, and he says that for Reggae Month and Black History Month 2019, the mission should be to create a change in the narrative of dancehall, as well as reggae.

“As a concerned Jamaican living here in New York and an active radio ­personality for more than 20 years, it is part of my civic responsibility and my patriotic duty to highlight issues that impact Jamaicans at home and here in the ­diaspora,” he said. “I am usually not a big advocate for censorship in the arts, but it can sometimes highlight and bring attention to an issue, and it is something I have done consistently over the years.”

He adds that Jamaica’s music culture, in particularly dancehall, has for too long embraced songs that hit out against ‘informers’ and denigrate police officers, especially those songs that refer to them as ‘Babylon boy’. “We have been brought up in an ‘informer fi dead’ society, where police officers are, in some instances, considered the enemy,” he said.

RESPECT STILL DUE

According to McDonald, the incident that transpired in Spaldings, Clarendon, recently was the catalyst that set things in motion. After seeing multiple videos that surfaced on social media showing a police officer being accosted by a bus driver while doing his duty, he was inspired to show the diaspora that the law enforcers still deserve respect. And he believes that with the influence music has on behaviour, not playing dancehall and reggae songs that contain a negative message or bash police officers will make a difference both locally and internationally.

“Music that is played on the radio, in ­public passenger vehicles, and in other public spaces, ­especially where children are exposed, need some sort of filter. I implore all dancehall and reggae radio disc jockeys, dancehall selectors, and patriotic people to rethink the ­messages that they promote and to join me in the ­temporary ban to show respect to the officers who are charged with the unenviable task of protecting law-abiding citizens,” he urged.

On a positive note, he highlighted To Serve and Protect, a song in praise of law enforcers by singer OMI, who is a former policeman. McDonald stated that it’s time for more songs of this nature to become a part of the catalogue of music being produced.

Eight years ago, the Irie Jam jock placed a ban on music by dancehall hitmaker Vybz Kartel during Black History Month. What some ­persons characterised as an unpopular ­decision, McDonald called a necessity.

“At the time, I felt as though Kartel was ­sending the wrong message to our young, impressionable kids, and some of his music was helping to erode the concept that black is ­beautiful,” McDonald told The Gleaner.