Bunting off the mark?
Artistes won't take the blame for violence
Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's music industry players are still mulling the statements made by Minister of National Security Peter Bunting, even a month after those comments.
In his sectoral debate presentation last month, Bunting said the country had developed a subculture of violence and lawlessness that was being reinforced and promoted by different segments of society, including the entertainment industry.
Bunting said some artistes continue to use their talents to advocate violence and hatred. He then went on to explain that these kinds of music belittle women and warp the values of the nation's children.
The minister used the fate of two of the industry's top artistes to drive home his point.
"It is instructive that two of our most iconic artistes are now convicted felons serving lengthy prison sentences in the USA and Jamaica, respectively," he said.
Bunting did not name the artistes to whom he was making reference, leaving it up to the audience to decipher.
However, one could easily conclude that the minister was speaking of Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel.
Banton is serving a 10-year sentence after being convicted on a drug charge, while Vybz Kartel is serving a 35-year-minimum life sentence with hard labour for the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams.
Following the minister's comments, The Sunday Gleaner spoke to a few industry insiders who labelled the minister's statement biased and unfortunate.
Recording artiste KipRich said it was just unfortunate that both entertainers got involved in the things they often sang about. He also believes that crime would still be a major issue in Jamaica even if every artiste preached positive messages.
"The real problem is not the music, it's poverty. When a man can't find the next meal him likely fi do anything but him nah go dweet just because him listen to a song," he said.
He also explained that artistes cannot be blamed for the levels of violence in Jamaica because they are not the creators.
"Everything we sing bout a tings weh happen already so the whole argument nuh mek no sense. We just a talk bout weh wi see."
Female entertainer Ikaya disagrees.
"People, especially children, idolise and look up to us so it's important that we send out positive messages. Of course, singing about violence doesn't make anyone get up and kill people, but over time the message is sent subliminally," she said.
In a recent interview with Beenie Man and Agent Sasco, the issue of putting out positive music arose.
Beenie Man was quick to point out that all music is positive because the purpose of music is to uplift. He added that it becomes a problem when people misinterpret the intent of the message.
Agent Sasco, on the other hand, believes artistes should take responsibility for the role they play in the breakdown of the society's moral structure.
Though this is his belief, Sasco also pointed to the importance of the role parents should play. Beenie Man agreed.
Both entertainers, who are also fathers, said parents should monitor what their children listen to because the dancehall space is adult territory.
The minister wrapped up that segment of his presentation by saying there was plenty of blame to go around. He listed weak family structures, failing schools and communities, domestic violence and the connection between politics and criminal gangs as causal factors in the growing crime rate.
He also said that if Jamaica was to reverse the epidemic of violence, there needed to be a change in the attitude and behaviour surrounding the issue.