For those of you who know me, you know I am never afraid to say, or write, whatever is on my mind; and this is long overdue.
About a year ago there was a rift between two Dancehall artistes Mavado and Vybz Kartel. (If you are Jamaican then you know them both; if not you probably just know Mavado.) Before the rift the two men made a few songs together. Afterward, they made songs about each other.
You see, an unfortunate aspect of Dancehall music is intense rivalry and, for lack of a better word, hatred. The artistes are never afraid to let it be known that they do not like someone, which happens very often and usually because of something jovial. In fact, the music they create about each other circulates very well around the island. I was never one to support songs that talk very vividly and angrily about violence and murder, but it is practically inescapable.
This whole “Gully vs Gaza” thing really began as Mavado, representing the Gullyside, versus Kartel, representing the Gaza. (Based on the violent Gaza strip in the Middle East.) The two men appeared at an annual concert in Jamaica called “Sting” during the Christmas break of 2008, where they battled each other through song, allowing the crowd to choose their favourite entertainer in the end.
Eventually, Kartel began building the “Portmore Empire” meanwhile Vado worked with the “Alliance,” which has also expanded. The two G’s divided Jamaica even more than it already was (which I did not know was possible). All the ignorant people ran around and fought with each other over who supported what and why. In the end, almost everyone took a stance, based on which artist was their favourite.
I chose to support the Gaza. I always had a strong love for Kartel’s music, and I believe that he is extremely talented. I also had a strange feeling about Mavado. (I will admit I was every bit afraid of him. Especially after seeing him in person and getting the “evil eye.”)
Unfortunately, for every belief there are extremists, which in this case applies to both the fans and even the musicians themselves. They have all succeeded in dividing my beautiful country with the one thing that is supposed to bring the whole world together; music.
Even after an alleged “make-up” between Kartel and Mavado, there is still tension. People are still running around and doing stupid things because of who they support and who they do not. After another artiste, Black Ryno, decided to leave the Gaza, his house was burnt down, and shots have been allegedly fired at his family home. Just the same it is alleged that another member was beat up after being kicked out. This whole “Gaza” thing is starting to sound more like a gang than a music label or group of musicians.
This is where I draw the line. It is one thing to make music with clever lyrics, but it is another to take those lyrics to action. Considering the crime rate in Jamaica, I am not even sure why violent music has not yet been banned. And when I say banned, I mean not allowed to even be recorded yet alone played on any radio station, CD, or even at a party. It might sound quite barbaric, but I do think it is necessary.
What really prompted me to dedicate an entire blog to the ignorance of the situation, is the fact that even the producers are being targeted with threats. The last time I checked, all they do is make the music. They do not write the song, nor should they even pick a side. Furthermore, the entire argument—from the very beginning— is irrelevent, childish, ignorant, and laughable at best. I actually feel quite embarrassed that this is the type of music coming from my country and that such talented people are so damned ignorant.
The Gaza is just continuing to disappoint me, meanwhile Mavado is doing more positive things for Dancehall music. (I have to admit I was very proud the morning I turned on VH1 and saw Mavado. He was in a music video with Wycleff Jean singing about Haiti and the earthquake.)
Maybe it is because I know one of those targeted producers personally, but I have decided to renounce my support of Kartel and the Gaza. This is my official renunciation.
For all those who can understand, hillside mi seh!