Last week, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that in the last few decades, the music being produced by some local entertainers has been overtaken by violence.
He posited that with the power the music holds, creatives should be using it as a tool to edify and uplift. Following a bloody start to the year, including the chilling murder of Andrea Lowe-Garwood in a Trelawny church, the age old argument that gun lyrics are one of the biggest contributors to the violence culture has again been brought to the fore.
Speaking with THE STAR recently, entertainer QQ said many things have contributed to the crime problem in Jamaica including the music. But he believes it’s not just the songs because many artistes are living the lives they sing about.
“This is why I always say choose a side. Artistes need to take some responsibility. If a music or yuh choose (badness), do that, but it can’t be both because that is where the problem start,” he said. “I think there is a place, not only in dancehall, but in music in general, for certain types of music, and so I will never fight against an artiste weh sing dem song deh (gun songs) because everybody have dem different talent and creative way of writing. But it is your duty to come out and say to your fans what is music is music and the lifestyle is the lifestyle.”
Fellow entertainer Wayne Marshall, the father of four boys, said that as creatives, artistes must be allowed to tell whatever stories they want. But like QQ, he said there must be a clear distinction between musical representation and real life.
“I used to sing badman song and when I used to sing it I never felt that this would help to push crime and violence, it was just the music reflecting the reality of the streets. With that said, I would be a hypocrite to say ‘Yes, di man dem fi stop sing gun songs’. Personally, I would love to see less of those songs but that is a decision every artiste affi make individually,” he said. “Having said that, I have made the differentiation between what is reality and what is music but a lot of entertainers have not made that differentiation. Nuff a di man dem really inna badness and all these things and that is where the line is crossed.”
Marshall said no one in the industry should criticise Holness for his statements because there is hard evidence of artistes reflecting and imitating lives of crime “and that is what will influence the yute dem”.
QQ, who grew up in the sometimes volatile community of Maverley, said that he could have gone the route of guns and murders.
“But growing up, mi father used to par wid whole heap a yute and when me a grow him used to say ‘make mi tell yuh dis, gun only bring two things death or jailhouse’,” he shared. “So even though I may listen the songs weh have gun lyrics and thing, I have never got into that lifestyle because I have seen the destruction that it brings to families.”