Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Diaspora weighs in on Kartel - Expect a national response whatever the verdict

Published:Friday | April 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, there is an air of expectancy in some sections of the Jamaican diaspora in the New York Tri-State area. It can be summed up in two words – Vybz Kartel. News that Kartel will know his fate this morning, when the long-awaited judgment in his appeal will be handed down, has started many conversations and predictions.

Wayne Hall, the host of The Wayne Hall Show, who hails from Ewarton in St Catherine, told The Gleaner that whatever the verdict, Jamaicans should expect a national response. “On the eve of Vybz Kartel’s appeal verdict, one cannot deny it comes with mixed feelings. For many, it’s a revisit of a painful episode. For others, they are optimistic for a positive decision. It comes at a crucial time as the country is locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be interesting to see how it plays out with the wider public,” Hall said.

He added: “At the recently held IRAWMA, he won two of the top awards. Obviously, he still has tremendous support.”

For a Jamaican living in the Bronx, Kenton Cole, president of Solja Records Inc, it was great news, and his opinion is that for the greater good of dancehall, Kartel should be released.

‘BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON A GLOBAL PLATFORM’

“I’m glad to hear that finally after all this time they are going to hand down the verdict. The fact that stuff in Jamaica is under lockdown might affect it, but the way that Jamaica seems to have the COVID-19 thing somewhat under control, they should be able to make the announcement. I think that outside of Bob Marley, Kartel is the biggest influence on a global platform. Bob Marley was reggae, but as far as dancehall – there were a lot of legends before Kartel, Ninja Man, Super Cat, Beenie Man – but he has taken dancehall to greater heights. Whatever it is about him, whether it is his personality or his lyrical ability, I rate Kartel as the top artiste for dancehall. He would have made a great politician. Look at how him have the masses in dancehall even from behind bars. There’s no denying his ability.”

FaceVU television producer, Jerry McDonald, is urging responsible behaviour from the Gaza Nation, in light of the coronavirus. The St Ann resident, who now lives in the Bronx, NY, told The Gleaner, “If the ruling is in favour of Kartel, I don’t think corona will hinder Gaza fans from celebrating in numbers. But I would implore them to do the responsible thing and celebrate on the various social-media platforms and refrain from going out on the streets, as this could set back all the positive strides we have made with social distancing in the past two to three weeks.”

HOPEFUL

Mechanical engineer Esroy Bernard is hopeful that the appeal will be in Kartel’s favour, but he, too, has a word of caution. “I hope he wins this appeal and gets out. However, everyone in the society should know that they are not above the law. I know there are going to be celebrations across many aspects of the dancehall fraternity, but they should be tempered by the state of emergency that we have going on in Jamaica right now.”

Broadcast journalist based in Connecticut, Donovan Longmore of WESU 8.1 FM, while heaping praise on Kartel as a lyricist, had serious words for the self-professed Worl’ Boss. “It’s sad to see an intelligent individual, who is also one of the best lyricists of our time, get caught up in such a shameful and deplorable act. There are records of tampering with the case which yield serious shades of corruption. In Connecticut, the younger dancehall fans are still chanting for the Worl’ Boss’ freedom, while most of the more mature music lovers are uttering the guilty plea. I, for one, believe that Kartel deserves a complete fair trial and, if proven guilty, then he must pay for his actions.”

Connecticut promoter Junior Wellington had few words on the subject. “I don’t condone wrong behaviour, if you were found guilty then you should serve your penalty. Not because one is a ‘celebrity’, they shouldn’t be treated differently.”

Vybz Kartel’s appeal hearing got under way in July 2018. The entertainer and his co-accused Shawn Campbell, Kahira Jones, and Andre St John were convicted in 2014 for the 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams.

The four were given life sentences at the Home Circuit Court in Kingston.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com