Notes from the interview between Cliff Hughes and Vybz Kartel

Vybz Kartel
NB: have had to rename this post because it was hijacked by a site called mediazoneja which is passing it off as its original content and harvesting the resulting traffic. please note that these are my notes, and only i have the right to disseminate them. Originally this post was called: Vybz Kartel Makes an Impact: “when two gladiators are gone 2 more will appear”

Nov. 14, 2009
Ok, sharing my notes from the interview between Cliff Hughes and Vybz Kartel on TVJ’s Impact which aired on November 12, 2009. Remember this is not verbatim, much of it is my shorthand to myself. And there are occasional gaps, i didn’t try to note every single detail. Occasionally i comment in bold type. i frequently summarize CH’s questions. VK’s responses are italicized. He often refers to himself in third person as Vybz Kartel. There has been so much demand for news about the interview (judging by the hundreds of page views this blog is suddenly getting) that instead of waiting till i can write a proper post about it i thought why not share these notes? They provide quite a glimpse into the path the interview took if not actually being a blow by blow account. i thought Vybz was in complete control and this interview is a striking record of a very important moment in Jamaican cultural history–i have much to say about this but for now here is almost the full 100 i promised yesterday. Incidentally Cliff neglected to ask the two top questions anyone with some knowledge of popular culture here would have asked. 1) is it true that Kartel has pierced his tongue? 2) Is it true that he bleaches and if so, why?

8 pm, TVJ, November 12, 2009, Impact
crazy ads before show, real coup for Cliff, interview outdoors in uptown Gaza (?), nice yard, Laing is clearly lurking in the background judging by asides addressed to him by Adidja “Vybz Kartel” Palmer

VK introed as the most popular DJ, most influential entertainer in Jamaica, incredible lyricist with an incredible fan base spanning socioeconomic grps. Also a shrewd businessman who owns rights to all 4000 of his songs.

Interview kicks off, Why is yr music so controversial?

I don’t know. VK just does music…

How do you see what you do?

as music, as art, art is a reflection of life

my creative right as an artist

a musician, not a religious leader nor a political one nor a social one

parenting, takes responsibility for teaching his kids

sylvester stallone, Rambo, shooting officers, action movies from Hwood? What about those?

I DJ about life in Jamaica

VK is not a killer

I do a lot of socially conscious songs most of which are not played

i’m an entertainer, I get paid to entertain, its not my responsibility to grow fatherless children.

Society has a responsibility…

children in the ghetto need social programmes, they need motivation.

I don’t see anyone in Cherry Garden going out and killing anyone after listening to my music

How do Cliff H, VK, the PM help Jamaica? Cliff includes himself which is good…

VK employs a lot of Jamaicans, I have a company, that is my responsibility to Ja–to be a good citizen

If VK is to be held responsible as an artiste then Hwood must be held resp….

all of us grew up on gangster movies…

only VK buttons have been focused on by the media

media out to get him

VK most influential artiste…

VK finds this a burden…asked to mind people’s children, to care for everyone’s children

he condemns sale of buttons, he wasn’t involved with manufacturing them, his own posters are about staying in school, abstinence make sense etc. Daddy don’t touch me there, is that to be interpreted as actually having happened to Queen Ifrica?

what is your message to the young people? Cliff asks. “Stay in school, always use a condom…”

VK: gaza gully superimposed on schisms that exist, can’t expect mavado and him to bear the burden for what society has created, the decay in society isn’t created by them. They are mirrors.

Cliff; but you’re contributing to it! You’re most influential, you;’re a very bright man, that’s why you’re under pressure, you’re capable of doing much better than that…don’t you accept that there comes a point when u say my country is at risk, I have a talent, ray ray ray ray.

VK: the right people to ask are the politicians, people who have access to money, to knowhow, the resources, people who can help the garrisons, lightbulb scandal, how many millions that could have been spent on improving quality of life of the poor…

when do we, cliff and kartel, use our talent to say to the people of this country blah blah…why the violence in his music?

Because it sells basically…

since start of this year i’ve done 4 gangster songs, they get ratings, sound sytem play, dub plates are made…

anything the people want the people will get

at root of violence are the socioeconomic conditions, gun culture cultivated by our politicians,

CH: take off the artiste hat and put on the citizen hat, what wld u say to the politicians?

VK: I have nothing to say to the pols, as artistes we stay far from politicians, Gaza mi seh

CH: what gaza mi seh mean?

“Gaza means Fight for what you believe in against all odds, against all adversity”

Mr. Addy the teacher…how he arrived at name Gaza?

When I left the Alliance VK came under so much pressure, i said to Blak Rino and others we need to form a group. But we need a perfect name

the 1st war was just happening in Gaza, israel was bombarding them but the people were fighting back regardless, and VK said to Laing, we’re going to use that name coz it means to me–dem people deh serious and dem nah back down. Makes link to the pressure he came under when he left the Alliance, when his career was threatened. So that was the perfect name for him at the time.

1996…VK and a singer called Escobar and another friend decided to join forces, they got the name from a movie about Escobar and his infamous cartel…how come this attraction for notorious, infamous people etc

VK: No, the idea of adopting the name Kartel predated that becoz “a cartel is a group of people coming together to limit prices and control competition and that’s what Vybz Kartel wanted to do at that time”

“we distribute music, legal narcotics…”

falling out w Bounti happened over the latter’s desire to control his life, but VK is a man, couldn’t allow that, no matter how grateful for the start BK gave him; also his friendship with Beenie didn’t help

whence the rivalry w Mavado?

when I fell out of grace w BK so to speak, I guess Mavado figured he shld defend his honour.

CH: are u prepared to go on a stage together etc to make statement to yr fans?

But, VK responds, they did this already, with Mark Shields, but he’ll do it again, no problem

ready to go to schools and talk to students, but no one has ever approached them, tho there is a series of school tours with other artistes

“sometimes I wonder if its like a conspiracy by society to watch us fight in the ring like a gladiator and till both of us die. Why nobody don’t step onto the field and say we need u to go into the schools and this event will be sponsored by this company or that company–

“i’m shocked that society took so long to come to us w a plan like that.”

CH: Greatest threat acc to prinicpals—the G culture–

VK says he knows: Ganja, guns, graffiti, Gaza, Gully–

VK is a musician, limits to what he can do, he is willing to do something but who will take the initiative? Private sector not stepping up, no one else coming forward

“remember. when two gladiators are gone 2 more will appear.”

CH: Bounti Killa says Vybz Kartel the worst thing he has ever done to dancehall…(VK used to be BK’s protege)

that is typical bad man BK, that is his persona, I have no comment

born in Waterhouse, four sis one bro, third in fam, eldest sis a teacher

speaks to his Mom almost every day…

Life is life and we live and we die…the only thing that is certain in life is death

“except smoking which is bad, don’t do it…”

VK was a truant always sculling school and going to studios, got expelled from Calabar

good at litt, tells all children, “education is the key and VK is not a dunce and if u want to be a good artist u have to have an education”

he just meditates the lyrics, doesn’t use pen and paper anymore…a lot of artists do this…Sizzla too.

Name Adidja Palmer…”made me feel more special, more indigenous to what I was doing”

i’m a very spiritual person, not necessarily religious, rel too confusing, he reads bible, close links w family and friends

how many kids, by how many women? Five, 6 to 3 mths (honestly would Cliff ever ask an uptown citizen this? And why not? many of them have several children by different women)

An artiste has to remain a bachelor, so to speak, to maintain his appeal. (refuses to be drawn on his love/sex life–smart move VK)

Family is basis of society and civilization, I’m a great father, my kids and I are friends. Didn’t get to bond w his own father who was working 24/7

music business doesn’t follow a set time, in between time lots of time for family

never heard anyone say of his son…yu see is thru him father is a dj…1st thing his son has to do is his homework. Normal family life, coz when VK steps into his home he is not VK—he is Addy the Daddy.

Not the teacher…Daddy, which is the ultimate teacher, That’s why we’re saying–family is first– Jamaicans shld take the responsibility as parents and adults to grow their child in the right way and not leave them to outside influences like a DJ or a taximan in the street playing a VK.

CH: Lapping up etc…bus porn. VK’s reactions. (reminds me of time years ago when Cliff Hughes and was it Carol Narcisse visited Gemini or Caesar’s or one of the nightclubs and Cliff unabashedly enjoyed a lapdance, live on radio as it were–hey this is my memory of it ok?)

VK sings Schoolgirl don’t go inna di schoolbus. complains he has addressed things like this over and over but these songs never get highlighted by media or played very much…(why don’t Cliff, Boyne and com ever harrass media owners and managers about things like this?)

VK doesn’t have a US visa, was turned down, doesn’t know why, has reapplied. The Empire is touring w/o a problem, the Empire only concerned with the musical aspect no control over member’s lives

proud of products such as Street Vybz rum, ‘Daggerin’ line of condoms. “I’m a conspiracy theorist you know” wonders why the name of the condoms was banned the moment it came out. (referring to Romping Shop controversy and ban by Jamaica Broadcasting Commission).

CH: anything to say to fans and detractors?

Well we have nothing to say to our detractors coz if u don’t like VK I guess you probably never will. As I have told people before i’m a musician and I will never stop doing music.

Appeals to his fans in the streets not to take the Gaza Gully thing to an extreme “Just keep the music as music” and don’t take it literally don’t fight over this GG thing, and give your artiste a bad name because at the end of the day it is Mavado and myself who have to take the blame yknow what I mean for what is happening in the streets. But I have nothing to say to my detractors becoz if u nah like mi you nah go like mi and if you love mi you a goh love mi, Vybz K is not somebody you can like, you have to love him or you have to hate him.

no in between?

No in between, no gray area…

Author: ap

writer, editor and avid tweeter

24 thoughts on “Notes from the interview between Cliff Hughes and Vybz Kartel”

  1. Wow! I mean, wow! First, thanks much for sharing the notes; this works far better than any coherent narrative. I missed the live interview.

    I think VK needs to read this transcript. Does he not see the glaring, stadium bulb contradictions in his stance as “good citizen” and “good father” who is peddling obnoxious crap to everyone, including other people’s kids, because it sells? Who feels so empowered to complain that “society” is not doing “its” job, and yet actively contributes to the bottom-feeding impulse in the newest crop of DJs?

    He is completely unreflexive and so imprisoned by the macho “mi n’aa bow” attitude, that he can’t even see how he works against what he claims to stand for.

    He claims he and Mavado are “mirrors”, assuming that mirrors only come in one form. To me, they are the “mirrors” you find in the funhouse, which throw back such a distorted and grotesque reflection, that you can barely recognize the contours of the original material. We don’t need windex fi clean dem yah mirror. We need entirely new ones!

  2. Hello,

    I wrote a response earlier and it was not sent so I have recollected my thoughts and will post this comment. I am passionate about this country. I have never thought about leaving it to live anywhere else. It was never a part of my agenda – but it is now. I cannot live in a country that has no respect for life.

    I watched this interview and I was upset. Upset because he was taking any responsibility for his actions. As an artiste he has the ability to impact a wide market. I am deeply concerned because I see the impact and the effects it has on the young people each day. I pass the bus terminus to see big men force young girls in buses with older guys and watch them carry on like everything is alright.

    He sings the most degrading songs and the poor ole souls would not take his songs with a grain of salt but instead live it out in their daily lives – being violent and coarse.

    I was on a bus thing morning and heard one of his songs playing and a whole bus load of people sad down listening to his lyrics. He was singing ” I’m gonna come and shoot you down if you diss me” and this is the no-diss mentality society we live in where you are killed if you step on someone’s toes. So I sat there and asked myself if someone in the bus will not voice a concern for the driver to change the song. To my surprise no one did but I made the bold move of leaving the bus. I prefer to be late for work than to digest garbage that early in the morning.

    As Jamaicans we need to stand up for our country. We have become so numb to violence that when an artiste produces an art like this we accept it. We shouldn’t. It would have been ok if this was underground and was not popular. But my God this is mainstream, his lyrics are glorified and I am so concerned for the young people who listen. Because they are the ones who will cut you down – kill you in a moment.

    The striking thing about it is that he appreciates his job – not having a positive image. He made a statement in the interview that struck me. He said (summary) that when he heads home he is not VK, instead he is a father, a man.

    This guy doesn’t care, why should we care what he sings. Oops We should!

  3. Hi Long and Corvedecosta,

    thanks for visiting and actually leaving comments, deeply appreciate it.

    i must confess to being a Kartel fan (and Mavado) although they both reflect the many contradictory impulses of so many people in Ja.

    i too was struck by the statement that when he goes home he is Daddy and not VK, a crucial distinction. they are playing roles, lucrative roles, and they do realize the negative impact it can have.

    anyway, more on all this in another post.

    nice to read your comments in Havana where i happen to be right now…

  4. @ Corvedacosta: I really see nothing more responsable about leaving the bus, than not letting all your song lyrics be about how you think the world SHOULD be. I cannot understand how it can be reasonable to hold artists reponsable for other peoples criminal acts. The legality of reflecting the society is a premiss for the existence of art itself. And that should be especially important for JA, considering the impressive frequency of artists this population holds. Who turns the focus on badmanism and criminality in JA more effectively than the artists?


  5. I agree with some of the other comments – to an extent. I agree that he is in some ways shirking responsibility for the impact of his songs. BUT, I agree with what VK said, that he as an individual cannot be held responsible to be everybody’s daddy. You cannot expect an entertainer, whose aim is to make a profit from his music to take the place of absent parents throughout the society. ‘G’ music sells. That is a fact. We must now ask ourselves why does it sell so well.

    In Jamaica we like to throw the blame around to everyone else – government, dancehall music etc.

    Well I believe that every Jamaican has to take some of the blame for where our country has degraded to. After all, indiscipline, high levels of child abuse and violence did not start when VK came on the scene.

    What about all those middle and upper class Jamaicans who benefit from the drug trade, exploit workers, don’t pay taxes, send all their money abroad and enjoy their luxurious, well secured houses in the hills? Do they not have a responsibility to sacrifice for their country – mentor a child, start an inner-city program or something??

    Why aren’t any of the big business people or doctors or other moneymakers being called on Impact to answer for what they have done or have failed to do? Certainly, their lack of action has contributed to our problem.

    In my opinion, we are all to blame.

  6. You know, listening to people talking about the interview, and to hear Maja, Novia and Corvedacosta, I think we as consumers/citizens don’t really have a full view of what an artist is and can be in a society like ours. Instead, we let folks like BB, VK et al. tell us what an “artist” is based on their already limited notion of such, and let them tell us what the effects of their music are and are not, because we don’t bother to think for ourselves and ask questions; if they say so, it must be true, despite what we live and breathe everyday. Meanwhile they are being glorified as if they are indeed the sages of today, so we end up either asking them to take highfalutin’ stances that they are completely incapable of understanding let alone articulating, or letting them off the hook for things they ought to have already understood as a result of being in around for so long. And like the interview showed, they will continue to play *all* of us, while filling their bank accounts and social calendars.

    To let VK etc. tell us that since DJs are not “telling” youth to kill other people, and he did not “authorize” the buttons etc., therefore they are not implicated in the way the music is translated into the world is to make idiots out of all of us. Since when does music have nothing to do with social transformation? Is Jamaica so blasted special and different that what is true for every other place in the world cannot be true here?

    And please, don’t bother to tell me that no other Jamaican musicians are asked to think of these things, so why are we asking these semi-literate DJs? Well, we should have, and now is as good a time as any. Furthermore, these very DJs – along with their promoters and the mass media – have been actively shrinking the very pool of music that we can even listen to, and making their voices/commentary the ONLY sources of both critique as well as celebration that most people have access to. And when everybody – including these very DJs – have been busy bigging up music as the epitome of expression of Jamaican culture, values, realities, whatever term they want to use, then you can see why their music will necessarily be at the center of any struggles about who we are, and more specifically, what kind of society we want to create. When you are so arrogant as to call yourself the voice of Jamaica, or to claim that you are the best thing that Jamaica has ever produced, then you better be aware that you are going to be held accountable to that standard that you helped to establish. If VK is that smart to see that politics is responsible for creating the material conditions that feed violence and criminality, then he ought to use that same pop sociology lens to see that HE is also a key actor in shaping the cultural conditions that further legitimize the violence and criminality he claims to find problematic. No, he would rather complain that nobody is listening to his conscious music and that he’s not responsible blah blah blah out of one side of his mouth, and use the other to suck the creative and critical juices out of his fan base like a flippin’ vampire. By his own admission, VK benefits enormously from the values proliferated through the same gun trade, corruption and misallocation of public monies etc. as the tiefing politicians that he’s pointing fingers at. He needs to spare all of us the sanctimonious bullshit about being an artist and a father and get a blasted clue and a conscience. He’s using the same blood money to raise those children, as all the other uptown dons he’s distancing himself from, but trying so dyam hard to be just like. He shows himself to be a total schizophrenic. “Contradictory” is too mild a term.

  7. @ Annie – being a fan or not is really not at issue here. At least, I don’t think it is. For years, to me, BB has been the best thing that ever came out of DH, even though he has popularized and used his star status to legitimize hatemongering against gay and lesbian folks. When do I part company with him and the rest of them? When they cannot comprehend that, despite my willingness to defend their right to say/sing whatever the hell they want, I do not think we should be made to listen to them. Nor will I defend their refusal to recognize the effects of what they are singing and doing. And if you are going to be willfully destructive, I am not most certainly going to speak out against you.

    IMHO, these DJ’s are allowed to take up too much space in our public discourse. And we have ceded that space to them. In turn, they feed off the attention. Too bad Cliff Hughes didn’t do his homework and figure out how to pop that VK balloon in front of the whole Jamaica.

  8. Long: you say that VK ought to “see that HE is also a key actor in shaping the cultural conditions that further legitimize the violence and criminality he claims to find problematic”. At the same time you have already claimed that “we end up either asking them [folks like BB and VK] to take highfalutin’ stances that they are completely incapable of understanding let alone articulating”. I am confused about what you expect from these “semi-literate DJs”?


  9. …and I think Novia has a very constructive view on this: Every one of us should try to do what WE think is right if we want some change. That goes for VK too.


  10. Long said: ‘Since when does music have nothing to do with social transformation?’

    I agree with some of the sentiments that you have expressed, and I am well aware of the power of music and art to transform. I would conjecture to say that there are still many artists out there who are expressing the need for social transformation in their music (Iwayne, Richie Spice and other conscious artists).

    On the other hand, a social transformation is not going to just issue forth from the music itself. It needs to be supported by a movement of people on the ground. We need to tek it an run wid it – use the tool of music as a medium of communication to relate to the vulnerable in the society. Unfortunately, VK and indeed most dancehall artists are not inclined to lead this movement. We cannot force or request this to happen.

    I also agree that the pool of worthwhile music coming out of our studios is shrinking, but that is a function of increased access to the technology, the values of the musical audience and the education/skill of the ‘artists’. If the conditions have resulted in what we have, then clearly the opposing forces supporting unity, hard work, peace and intellectual pursuit have not been strong enough to counter the status quo.

    Long, I understand your frustration. But if we want to see a social transformation, we are going to have to envision it, ignite it and help sustain it ourselves.

    Thx for the forward Maja.

  11. @ Maja – that’s the problem with cut and paste. You cut out what you want and paste it where you feel like. Maybe you should revisit the order in which I said what I did.

    In many ways, the “constructive view” employs the same distancing/evasive strategy that VK is using. I said nothing to the effect that VK created any problem or should be solving any problem. That approach suggests that since “all” of us are responsible, then “none” of us can and should be held responsible for anything. And when all else fails, blame “society”, that abstract creature that nobody can really grasp & so it’s down the rabbit hole we go. Well, society does not speak, drink, think, shoot, sing. WE do – as individuals, as collectives. The DJs are part of a major collective – the entertainment industry; it does not just take & reflect, it creates & feeds too.

    We are not all talking about the same thing when some say VK should “take responsibility.” Take responsibility for what, exactly? For me, that means that since VK, in his eminent artistic brightness, knows the context into which he is plugging himself, who his audience is, & what they are taking away, and further sees himself as a “good citizen” (don’t even let me get started on that) would recognize that even if HE is not pulling the trigger or what not, he has to acknowledge that he has a role to play in what obtains, no matter how small, no matter how indirect. Accountability. Singing trash is not the only role that he can play, but it’s a rather conspicuous one that he does play as an “entertainer”. To what effect? Is money & fame all that matters? At what costs? Those are the questions that I think everyone should be asked & find an answer to. Their actions tell me what their answer is. To my mind “good citizens” do not actively foment harm – whether thru how they exercise their imagination, or by how they choose to ignore the glaring effects of their work. VK is just as accountable, as are all the other fools who churn out misinformation, steal our money & misuse our resources. Any mystique that VK may have had had – I never paid much attention to him before, but constantly hear people say how he is “intelligent” so I have been wondering what he was really about – is totally gone for me now.

    @ Novia – I don’t think for a second that our current DJ’s, for the most part, are anything more than a bunch money-grubbing folks. They may not have wanted to be, or don’t know how to be anything else. Either way, that’s how I see most of them. So, I am not bestowing on VK the penchant to lead or contribute to any positive social change, in any form. I am willing to be surprised when & if this should happen. The few who have the kind of consciousness that would lead them in a different direction than the pack are already doing that, steadily, quietly & with tangible effects. My point was that social transformation goes both ways: I think the path we are on is largely a regressive one. Many of those who argue the “it’s not the DJ’s or music’s fault” piece are also quick to point out that music can also have a positive effect. Well, how about taking account of the negative one while we’re living with it, instead of deflecting constructive criticism & burying our heads in the sand? I would generally be inclined to ignore all of the hoopla about dancehall etc. but the problem is that the marketplace of ideas here in JA is so pathetically small AND too many folks are invested in keeping it that way. IMHO, that’s the bigger crime that helps produce & sustain a VK et al. Ignoring VK is really not enough; creating viable alternatives to provide less fodder for him to feed off is what is needed.

  12. okay, somebody is really confused here. lets put your premisses in the order you present them (and i will do my best to articulate what i think is your arguments, Long):
    A: You think VK is incapable of understanding, articulating and taking stances that some people (like you? I dont know) think would benefit a type of society they long for.
    B: You think VK OUGHT to see his own role in shaping the society.
    C: VK “claims to find violence and criminality problematic.”
    D: VK is not helpful in creating better conditions for the above mentioned society.

    According to your views, why D: Is it because he does not understand the problems in the right way? Or because he dont really care? Or because he is not articulating it in a way you think most people understand?

    The rest of your discussion is very difficult to take a stance to, because you are throwing around your own homemade premisses: E.g: The approach «we are all responsable», means “none” of us can and should be held responsible for anything. How you come to this conclusion says more about your way of thinking of your fellow humans than it does about about anything else.
    Or this one: «Djs dont know or dont want to be anything else than money-grubbing folks.»
    Further on: We «let them tell us what the effects of their music are and are not, because we don’t bother to think for ourselves and ask questions; if they say so, it must be true».
    And that instead of realising that he is part of shaping the society, VK would rather complain that nobody is listening to his conscious music. Is he really?
    You even manag to pose the following question: «Since when does music have nothing to do with social transformation?», when the one premiss we all agree on in this discussion is that it DOES.

    So, i really dont know how to take this discussion forward at this point.


  13. Hail Annie Paul, thanks for the notes. I however get the feeling you have something against Cliff and Ian. Don’t bad-mind the man dem! Ian mi seh!

    Honesty, I really don’t like Vybes Kartel. There is a particular section of Denham town that I sometimes visit and the man dem roun there almost worship Kartel. We often exchange friendly banter about the Vybes because they know I’m not fan of his (not a Movado fan either – but he seems to have a better personality…”more humbla”). I’m always careful however not to take it too far because they are so passionate about their DJ. I really believe, regardless of the friendship forged between myself and the man dem, they would fight for Vybes if I dis him too much. Such is the power of the DJ and the music.

    As I have discussed with you before this is nothing new. I was in a similar situation way back-in-the-day when I was a NINJA MAN fan and others were saying SHABBA. By the way, do you remember Ninja’s “One house a gun” or Shabba’s “Oil up all a di Gun dem” especially how instructive Shabba was when he said “a copper shot yuh fi carry ina yuh gun mek a bwoy tun purple any time im get it…cause…shoot to kill wi nuh shoot an miss…”. Annie, clean yuh gun, mek sure it nuh stick! Violence at its best? Nope, for that check out Super Cat of the late 80’s early 90’s. Incidentally, I think Cat became the BOSS for a lot of us when he started to sing about his “9” and his “404” even more so when he was alleged to have “ended” Nitty Gritty in 1991. At that time my crew rode to the lyrics of the WILD APACHE as we gravitated towards the “badda” bad-man. Bad Indian mi seh!

    Thankfully I have long evolved and repented of my love for gratuitous musical and physical violence. Having experienced what I did in my teen-years I can never, like Mr. Palmer and others, deny the power and influence of music over impressionable minds. Kartel is right about one thing though…parents with proper parenting skills and controls can effectively counteract the influence of popular music. Thank God for my parents…dem di just up ina mi business all di time and yet they still made room for me to grow and explore. Parents need to pay attention at the earliest stages of their children’s development and maintain a close relationship with them throughout and beyond their formative years (too many unskilled parents in the society…many of whom are pickney themselves).

    Anyway, I really look forward to the end of the GULLY GAZA conflict. In my opinion it is just a symptom of far greater problems that have long plagued JAMAICA. GULLY and GAZA are now the new justification / amplifiers and outlet for a frustrated people who for the most part have become hopeless…even more so in the face of a global economic crisis. Kartel may also be right in saying that when they (Movado and himself) exit the scene two more gladiators will arise. I predict an epic CLARO verses DIGICEL conflict? Bun mi ole cell service! Claro mi seh!

    Annie, I know I’m late to the party but if you have not yet returned from CUBA please carry some Havana Rum (triple barrel) when yuh a come. No Cuban cigars please…Kartel said smoking is bad. Tell yuh fren Anthony! lol.

    Peace and love, Stero

  14. omg just back from Havana and seeing that a convo has been going on! wow, have to read it all…

    Stero! u shld have said so before! only havana club i brought back is in an itty bitty chocolate–

  15. @ Maja – I’m responding to what you said; whether or not you accurately represent what I said/think is not that important.

    A: You think VK is incapable of understanding, articulating and taking stances that some people (like you? I dont know) think would benefit a type of society they long for.

    VK may or may not be incapable; I don’t know. His reputation suggests that he is. At this point, he seems unable & unwilling to do so. I don’t believe all opinions/actions are equal; some create more problems than others. This is one of those times when his dodging the issue was hardly productive.

    B: You think VK OUGHT to see his own role in shaping the society.

    Based on how he has represented himself thus far, it is curious – and completely disingenuous – that he can so ably point out all the ways that everybody else is part of the problem, but not see how his stature as a DJ in THIS place/time is also implicated.

    C: VK “claims to find violence and criminality problematic.”

    Again, pure hypocrisy for him to make this argument and then engage in the practices of “entertainment” that he has.

    D: VK is not helpful in creating better conditions for the above mentioned society…Is it because he does not understand the problems in the right way? Or because he dont really care? Or because he is not articulating it in a way you think most people understand?

    VK does not [seem or care to] recognize the multiple implications of his own public behaviours & utterances. Blaming parents & government for everything is what we seem to do best; that’s certainly the easy way out of answering the question: what role do DJ’s play in shaping & even [de]legitimizing particular interpretations of the violence around us? Further, being as obsessed with “bad parenting” as we are, telling us that he’s “daddy” & pays attention to his kid’s homework is supposed to redeem his image as a thug. To me, that attitude is akin to letting off a rancid fart on a hot, airless bus & then getting off & leaving the other passengers trapped in the stench he helped to create in the first place. Sure the A/C should have been working, & the windows should have been open, but that doesn’t excuse what the farter did. But that’s exactly what the “we are all responsible” argument offers: suggests all factors have equal weight; is also a great tactic to avoid more “sensitive” topics. We ARE all responsible for the social conditions, but not in the same way or on the same scale. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous & self-serving.

  16. Long,

    i think the point is simply that DJs seem to be held to a different standard than politicians (internecine rivalry of the real kind, not symbolic or lyrical), businessmen (sex tourism)and other stalwarts of society who are all serious and possibly more direct contributors to the decline. i thought the question VK asked was a valid one–he did not set out to be a social worker or a universal uncle–the same violent lyrics have different effects on people who come from severely deprived backgrounds and those who have the wherewithal to have options. my problem with this kind of argument is that instead of holding those in charge accountable, we keep focusing on DJs–well, as the saying goes, if you can’t catch Quako, yu ketch him shut.

    The problem is that even if we completely shut down dancehall lyrics of all kinds our social problems would continue and even worsen, then what?? That really is the situation we are faced with. Demanding that DJs clean up their act may make us feel good and have some cosmetic effect but that’s all.

    And Anon (Stero?) yes, maybe i might seem to have something against Cliff and Ian but its really their arguments that i occasionally disagree with. i don’t know Cliff personally but i do know Ian and enjoy talking with him very much. He is really the most literate commentator on the scene–no two ways about it.

  17. @ Annie – I said nothing about banning or otherwise sanctioning DJ’s lyrics. Nor is my argument about the accountability of DJ’s merely about “feeling good” (that I find rather insulting, frankly). I do find it rather specious when any discussion about DJ’s is re-routed to this view, or to the related notion that if nobody else is being called out, then any focus on the DJ’s is both inappropriate and unfair. Amazing; as if the only way we can/should respond is to genuflect to the status quo. And of course, you know what will follow. Silence. And nothing. And then more of the same, from DJ’s and politicians alike. That’s the exact point I was making earlier about the “everyone is responsible” argument. It’s really not about identifying where and how to change; it’s really about deflecting attention away from the problem and maintaining the way things are. And true to form, even the politicians and wrongdoers who have decision making power are using this very argument, to amazing silencing effect. That is, when they respond that “everybody” is corrupt so why focus on police/boards, etc. the only response is silence. And then continue as always. Lovely.

  18. Well, Long focusing on the DJs isn’t getting us anywhere neither in curtailing the virulent homophobia nor in solving the country’s problems. so maybe its time to focus on the real causes?

    What are the options available to those who have become DJs? Bounti used to sell figurines for a living, mavado was a barber, in my opinion we ought to be grateful that they created/found legal occupations for themselves which offered them better options coz the rest of us certainly weren’t looking out for them or theirs–

  19. True, DJ’s R lightning rods 4 certain discussions, but that’s not an accident, nor does it happen w/out the consent & active participation of DJ’s looking 2 become household names. DJ’s R not hapless victims; they do have agency & R not simply a “reflection” of their circumstances. They make choices, some with more latitude & clarity than others. If you take stock of the sources of nonsense filling up ordinary people’s heads these days, three types of “experts” predominate: psychiatrists, pastors & DJs. Cultivating this status earns DJ’s their dollars.

    If that IW had any value, it was 2 illustrate that VK knows what he’s doing & does not give a shit about what other people think. And that’s entirely appropriate. But it is also my obligation as a citizen 2 question & contest what I hear, including where I believe he is wrong regarding the role that pop culture does/can play in the current moment. I don’t have 2 subscribe 2 the causal arguments being offered by Marcia Forbes et al or 2 the moral wailings of others 2 know that there R unintended consequences 4 what we R claiming as “culture” & that more effort needs 2 B made 2 expand the sources of information that R passing as truth. So, forgive me if I’m not interested in feeling “grateful” 2 folks who employ themselves by creating products that R hardly enriching 2 anyone except themselves. And yes, I do feel the same way @ our local scholars who produce crap they pass for “knowledge” & big-time capitalists who rape our country & litter it with their excesses. I really think you & many others who so stridently defend urban culture might also want 2 move beyond this either/or stance (i.e. either u r with the DJ’s or u are against them) because that’s not productive either.

  20. You ask what options do DJ’s have? Jamaica is small, but it’s not that small. How about more of them spending some time trying 2 undo what they claim to be singing conscious lyrics about?

    Why not work 2 expose the “real causes” and 2 use their musical talents to effect change that is not simply measurable in sales & concert sizes? That’s not going to make them immediately rich & famous, but it will and can do a world of good. That’s not something that all DJ’s need to do, but for those who are grousing about all that is wrong, they certainly don’t do much to encourage people to change these conditions, nor do they actively participate in making that change. Indeed, too many seem to benefit from the very horrible circumstances they are singing about.

    I also notice that U critique “the rest of us” as if persons like urself cannot do anything 2 help them & their audiences 2 expand their imaginations & possibilities 4 putting their ideas into practice. Complacency is right there under corruption as some of the “real issues” that we have to deal with.

  21. oh i’m a lot more modest than you in your estimation of what i can do to change the situation. likewise i think its absurd to demand that DJs clean up their act when the media which is far more powerful, the politicians, the business elite are all left to their own devices to the detriment of the country.

    but Long i won’t indulge in an abusive argument with you on this. i continue to maintain that the most creative class in this society has been the underclass–

    not surprisingly everyone wants to tell them what they can and can’t do, but yes, as VK indicated they no longer give a damn–

    as a commentator all i can say is they have a point. if you want me to crucify me for that go right ahead…

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