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Jamaica bans ‘vile lyrics’

Regional 18 Oct, 2022 2 Comments Follow News

Jamaica’s dancehall culture glorifies criminality

Scamming has become a huge hustle in Jamaica

Jamaica’s broadcasting regulator has banned music and TV broadcasts deemed to glorify or promote criminal activity, violence, drug use, scamming and weapons.

The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica said that such vile music or video on public broadcasts “normalise criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth.” The dancehall and bashment genres are full of lyrics glorifying ghetto life that heavily involves criminality.

The directive also said that channels should avoid “urban slang” that has anything to do with making money, wire transfers, acquiring wealth or a lavish lifestyle. It cited specific words like: “jungle justice,” “bank/foreign account,” “food,” “wallet,” “purse,” “burner phone” and “client.”

The ban is intended to restrict material that “could give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.” But Jamaican artists criticise the measure, saying in communities affected by drugs and gun violence it will do little to stem crime.

The new rules bans music on TV and radio which glorifies so many anti-social topics cannot be “promoted” - and swearing or “near-sounding” replacements are also banned.

It comes amid high levels of violent crime in Jamaica. Last year Jamaica had one of the highest murder rates in the region. Levels of violence have increased rather than diminished this year.

All forms of “illegal or criminal activity” are now prohibited to help keep the airwaves “clean”, it said. Station operators are required to take immediate steps to comply.

Concern that offending content could normalise criminality among young adults and “vulnerable and impressionable” youths was also cited as a reason for the changes.

However, many of Jamaica’s musicians are opposed.  “We can’t stop the creatives (artists) from singing about what they see around them or grew around,” said Romeich, a local music manager and producer in an Instagram post. Is Jamaica the only country that has children? Because the same children listen to these same songs elsewhere.”

Grammy award-winning music producer and singer, Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor posted sarcastically on Twitter: “Yay! Crime and violence gonna magically stop now.” He pointed out that young people listen to music over the internet more often than through a radio.

The broadcasting commission’s statement said while there had to be regard for freedom of expression, content promoting criminality conflicted with the “tenets of responsible broadcasting”.

Other Jamaican artists such as Rvssian, NotNice, and Romeich have all come out on social media slamming the directive. Many repeated that the restrictions would have little practical effect on violence, especially because youth get their media from streaming platforms like Spotify or YouTube.


Comments (2)

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Frank(l)y G.

26 Oct, 2022

Looking at the facts and seeing what's happening... This ban was overdue and is more than necessary.
All opposants: Stop bawl out fi freedom of speech. Yu better support the law and contribute strictly nice and conscious lyrics. Be role models fi di youths dem.
Peace & One Love,
from Germany,
Frankie G.

Frank(l)y G.

26 Oct, 2022

(Altered comment)

My request goes out to all the Reggae Music industry and all artists, singers, DJs and producers:

Looking at the facts and seeing all the poblems caused by drugs (even ganja, weed, marihuana or whatever you might call it)...
Stop bawl out fi freedom of speech, 'cos it's a big difference between talking 'bout ghetto problems on the one hand and promoting them on the other hand.
We better respect the law and support and contribute to it with nice and conscious lyrics.
Being an artist is a highly responsible role you play fi all di youths dem, in Jamaica and abroad.
Peace & 1Love,
from Germany,
Frankie G.