Producer, PNP politician agrees with Holness
Roberts says dancehall lyrics contribute to violence
Music producer and People’s National Party politician Patrick Roberts is in partial agreement with Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who used a recent sitting of the House of Representatives to criticise certain aspects of Jamaica’s popular culture, which he said contributed to the high levels of violence in the country.
Members of the dancehall community have since accused Holness of hypocrisy and called out his administration for failing to tackle the crime monster. “Why is this man blaming crime on music? Every prime minister that the [people] vote in when dem get them [expletive] seat to work dem fail and come point fingers,” Mavado, the Gully Gad, wrote in an Instagram post in which he tagged Holness. Masicka, who, during the 2020 election campaign, voiced a dubplate of his hit song, Just A Minute for Holness, also showed contempt for Holness’ remarks and questioned his use of the ‘Bro Gad’ moniker.
But Roberts, who has gone up against Holness for the West Central St Andrew constituency on five occasions, stressed that the prime minister has a valid point and emphasised that the deejays must shoulder some responsibility.
“Don’t tell me that PM is nuh hypocrite. Ministers from the opposing side have said the same thing. His statement in Parliament had nothing to do with him asking an artiste for a dubplate and everything to do with telling an artiste [to take] responsibility for their lyrics because whether they like it or not, and whether they believe it or not, reggae and dancehall artistes are role models in society, especially to the youths in the ghettos,” Roberts told The Gleaner.
Roberts pointed out that Holness said he was not trying to stifle the arts but rather asking the creators of music to contextualise their lyrics.
“Speaking as a producer, I must say that the lyrical content of some of these artistes must be called into question. And I have gone into the ghettos and asked the youth myself if these lyrics have an effect, and the answer is yes,” he stated, repeating what a 19-year-old youth told him.
“He said, ‘Of course it does. If you check it, when you hear a artiste a tell yuh lick out a man head, there is a message that is conveyed.’ The artistes need to alter their creativity in these times of increasing use of technology. Every lyric that they write is on the phone that even a two-year-old has in the palm of their hands. They hear the lyrics ‘lick out the marrow’, and then they look and see the same songs on videos, and so this becomes a natural thing,” Roberts stated.
According to the producer and politician, he has a five-pronged belief about what has contributed to untethered crime and violence. While the violent content in some dancehall music is a contributor, topping his list is bad parenting, followed by poverty, video content, and the Church abdicating its role.
A WORD FROM SHABBA
“With regards to parenting, we heard it clearly from Shabba Ranks while he was at his mother’s funeral on Saturday. If Mama Christie didn’t care, Shabba could turn a murderer and be at GP now. Can you imagine, we reach the stage where teachers in a classroom cannot even correct students because the parents ready to beat them off, and even teachers are afraid to walk some school corridors because the kids are too violent? We need more mothers like Mama Christie who put down dem foot down,” a passionate Roberts declared.
Last Saturday, Shabba Ranks told the gathering at his mother’s graveside of his mother’s role in his eventual success. “When I was about 14 or 15 years old, there was prominent people within this music that tried to stop I. I walk from Jammy’s to Seaview, and when I reach to I house, I look at I mother and seh, ‘Hear mi nuh man, me done with music a straight kill people and badness’,” he recounted.
His mother, however, was having none of it. Mama Christie told her son, “What? Mek mi tell you sumn. Nuh murderer nuh inna me generation, nuh blood nuh deh pon me generation hand and to how me love you as a son, don’t mek me cry. Yuh see anyweh you did come from and a talk bout kill, go back deh go wuk harder because when God open up fi yuh door, nobody can close it. Siding yah suh. Cry if you waan cry, bawl if you waan bawl, holla if you waan holla, but remember seh is only love a God can bring you through.”
Shabba went on to become a global superstar and the only dancehall artiste to win the Grammy for two consecutive years.
Roberts also believes that the Church has lost its way and no longer bonds with the community the way it should, and therefore there is no respect for the Church as a sacred place of worship. “If you keeping a community meeting, it is the hardest thing to get permission to use a church hall these days. The community has to see the Church as a partner, but they see it as a business. Church all have card machine to collect tithe and offering,” he said.
He had words of praise for dancehall entertainer, Ce’Cile, who said that artistes should take some responsibility, and Mr Vegas, who blasted the “false narrative” that dancehall artistes are simply holding up a mirror and reflecting what is happening in society rather than influencing criminality.