Artistes turn to ‘guard rings’ for success and protection
It is often associated with cultural practices, but the wearing of a 'guard ring' is a hushed subject in the entertainment space - unless you sing about it.
Meteoric deejay AceGawd confesses his allegiance to his guard ring in his single MarkX & Axxio, while entertainer Slyngaz declares his invincibility when he wears his guard ring, in the murderous ode Gun And Guard Ring.
But what is the ring used for? And why are some entertainers wearing them?
Artiste/blogger Dr Love says many dancehall artistes seek the services of spiritual workers for protection and success.
"It looks like a regular ring, but it protects you. It is filled with a lot of things like blessings, and keeps you out of court, keeps you away from police, murder. It secures you from a lot of situations," he told THE STAR, admitting that he is a regular client of a prominent Jamaican spiritual leader.
"It helps you to stay inna the industry and stay above things, so you can start travelling, get your house and car, and have your songs running the place without bowing to the payola system."
Dr Love claims that he was introduced to the culture a few years ago through a veteran reggae artiste after he expressed a desire to get a hit song. After seeking the services of a spiritual leader and following the 'process', Dr Love said that he received his wish when his track Baby Girl gained favour among music lovers. A short clip of the song that was posted on Dr Love's YouTube page in November 2017 has received 987 views.
"There are two levels of this process, you have the sacrifice one if you want to go in really deep, and the regular one to protect your life, which most entertainers use. To see a spiritual leader is only by appointment and very expensive. The cheapest is a welcome bath, which starts at J$350,000, and you get a shirt, bath ingredients, a candle and a fasting menu. It's a four-week process where you have to wear the shirt and don't wash it, and you fast for seven days."
J$700,000 to $3 million
He said that artistes will receive what they want if they adhere to the process, and the candle will naturally break at the end of the four weeks, symbolising their 'breakthrough'.
The second tier involves the preparation of a guard ring, which Dr Love said could range from J$700,000 to $3 million.
"The ring is filled with ingredients, it is prayed over and goes through a process involving liquids. Sometimes a goat or fowl is sacrificed, and the spirit that comes out of that will be your protection," he said.
Ironically, another popular theme in dancehall music is prayer. However, Love said although he believes in God, he doesn't think lone prayer can fulfil all desires.
"Prayer takes longer. A nuh like artistes nuh believe inna God, but church becomes the last resort," he said.
Echoing his sentiment is dancehall deejay Unknown Gringo, who sports four guard rings that he never removes, he says. He claims he was given his first guard ring by a spiritual leader after experiencing a series of strange events.
The entertainer claims that his success has attracted "bad mind people", and the rings ward off evil spirits. He also cautioned against fake rings.
"I've heard some people seh dem get tricked into paying $350,000, and it's a knock-off ring. Dem will tell yuh seh yuh invincible, and by the time yuh wink, yuh dead. The guard rings I have are for like $35,000 each. It's nothing expensive," he said.