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Dancehall cleans up, replaces smut with quality

Published:Saturday | August 14, 2010 | 12:00 AM
Shawn Storm

Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer

When the Broadcasting Commission outlined that beeps and daggering songs would be omitted from the airways in 2009, many greeted the idea with opposition, however, coming into 2010, the content of dancehall music has appeared to be more radio friendly.

The Gleaner met with some of the artistes to discuss what had propelled the change in the lyrical content.

Jodian Pantry of Rising Stars fame told The Gleaner that she had noticed the content had changed because artistes have begun to pay more attention to what they sing.

"I think the music industry has got a wake-up call and a progressive one too," she said.

The music has even changed to a point where even hardcore dancehall artistes have been altering their messages.

Hard-hitting lyricist

Aidonia, who has created a reputation for himself as a hard-hitting lyricist with songs like Big Matic Naah Laugh and Tell Dem, has since released songs more palatable to society's moral compass.

Jahova where the artiste says "jesus walks, jah jah walk with me" and My Hearts, featuring singer Aisha Davis, which sees the artiste venturing into ideas about love.

Popcaan of the Portmore Empire told The Gleaner that he believed that music had influence on youth and the change in message was right on time.

"Right now, a Gaza and Gully di youth dem a follow, suh dats why wi decide fi set di ting straight," he said.

The young artiste recently released songs such as Dream and Gangster City, which is a social commentary about the slums in Jamaica.

Fellow Empire artiste Shawn Storm also has a song under Notnice production called Life, which is also carrying a positive message.

According to Shawn Storm, the success of the song is evidence that uplifting music can have an impact.

Rising reggae-dancehall sensation I-Octane said positive artistes were being overshadowed by negativity on the airways.

Now, he explained, cleaner airwaves was providing an equal playing field.

"The clean-up enhance the positive music because it challenges the others to do good music as well," he said.

Natty King also said he liked the move by the broadcasting commission. The artiste says at first they weren't prepared for it because of how suddenly the change took place.

However, over time, the benefits had become apparent.

"Is a good vibe. Di ting nuh as how it us to be and it's better fi di youths dem because as a youth growing up is nuff tings I learn from music," said Natty King.

Cordel Green, executive director of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, said his organisation had no doubt that artistes would make things easier for radio stations by not producing music that needed beeps. This, he said, would lead to a situation where producers and artistes put more effort into the product.

Green said people were now seeing the commission's move as a blessing in disguise.

The next step for the commission, Green explained, was to stamp out the problem of payola, and to modernise broadcasting capacity.

Payola refers to the practice of paying for airplay. It has long been suggested that the music industry is, for the most part, directed by those willing to pay for their artistes to get more airplay than others.

The commission will also be looking into legitimising music charts.