Stop blaming dancehall! ...Industry insiders respond to Barbados' Culture Minister

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May 25, 2016
Razor B
File Stephen Lashley, Barbados's Culture Minister
Razor B
Gussie Clarke
File Stephen Lashley, Barbados's Culture Minister
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Industry insiders respond to Barbados' Culture Minister

Following statements made by the Minister of Culture in Barbados about dancehall music more than a week ago, several industry insiders have come out in support of the genre stating that dancehall music cannot be blamed for societal ills.

Barbados' Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, in addressing a 2016 Community Independence Celebrations in his country last weekend, called for a ban on dancehall music, stating that the music incites violence and promotes reckless behaviour.

"I am indeed very concerned about the escalation of gun violence, and, in particular, the escalation of violent acts that have claimed the lives of so many persons already this year," he said in his address.

"I am equally concerned about the impact of certain types of dancehall music and videos, the impact that this is having on the minds of our citizens, especially our young people. I take this opportunity this evening to call on each and every one of us to take a stand on this reckless behaviour."

His statements drew the attention of many and sparked a huge debate on social media, especially since his call for a ban on dancehall music comes just months after a club owner in London said he was banned from playing dancehall music in his establishment as authorities believed the music was linked to the upsurge in violence in and around the area where the club is located.

Like they did when the story of the ban in London surfaced, entertainers and industry insiders have come out in defence of dancehall music.

IRRESPONSIBLE STATEMENTS

Veteran producer Gussie Clarke told THE STAR that the minister's statements were irresponsible, as dancehall music alone cannot be blamed for the violence occurring in that country.

"Music has positive and negative connotations. It can incite violence, it can evoke love, patriotism, camaraderie," he explained.

"Music can influence both negatively and positively, but it cannot do that on its own. It is the people who determine how the music affects them, so it is a people problem and not necessarily a music problem."

Dancehall artiste Razor B agreed, stating that there are other genres of music that also influence people negatively.

"Dancehall is an intricate part of our Caribbean culture just like calypso and soca which have also come under attack over the years for their explicit content, so unless the minister is also planning on banning those along with hip-hop, etc., his efforts will be futile. In my opinion, this is just a politician playing politics," he told THE STAR.

Further examining the minister's statements, Gussie Clarke said he is convinced that the call for a ban on dancehall music involves more than just the influence the music may have on people, and may be stemming from the breakdown in relationships between Jamaica and several other countries in the Caribbean.

"It is a Caribbean problem that goes beyond the music. We have been having problems with our regional neighbours in trade, travel and other areas, and it has now spilt over into the music," he said. "It is a bigger problem than just music because dancehall music is not the only music where some elements of it incite violence so why pick on Jamaica?"

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