Krista Henry, Staff Reporter
T.O.K. members from left, Flexx, Craigy T, Alex and Bay C
American company Apple Inc has removed songs from dancehall artistes Buju Banton, T.O.K. and Elephant Man from their iTunes site citing that the songs incite violence against homosexuals.
In response to letters written by the pro-homosexual Canadian-based organ-isations Egale and SMM (Stop Murder Music) to iTunes in January, iTunes has removed controversial murder music from Jamaican artistes in its North American markets. Boom Bye Bye from Buju Banton, Chi-Chi Man from T.O.K. and Log On by Elephant Man have all been pulled from iTunes stores and the iTunes website.
Apple's iTunes is the leading on line distributor of music in North America through their websites and iTunes stores. Since 2008 over four billion songs have been downloaded since the service first launched on April 28, 2003.
When the STAR spoke with Akim Larcher founder of SMM (Canada) he explained that SMM had written to the two biggest record distributing companies in Canada to pull these songs and songs from other artistes. According to Larcher, iTunes gave a positive response and has not only removed the songs, but the albums they were on, as well as any compilation CD that contained the songs.
In a release issued Mr Larcher said "this is an historic victory for the LGBT community here in Canada and in the Caribbean. iTunes is exercising its corporate responsibility by pulling this murder music and raising the bar for other retailers and distributors to do the same."
Helen Kennedy, executive director of Egale - a national organisation that advances equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans-identified people and their families across Canada; stated in the release "we are extremely pleased with this decision. We have also contacted HMV, Archambault Inc, and Amazon.ca and we are optimistic that they will follow iTunes lead."
When the STAR contacted Flexx of T.O.K. he was unaware of the situation but not worried that the song would no longer be on the website. "That song came out six years ago in 2002 and is still a problem I guess people are just trying to hang on to get publicity. We have matured as artistes and have done so many other songs, I guess people just love that song" he said.
The song Chi Chi Man was released on T.O.K.'s first album My Crew, My Dogs which will be pulled from iTunes stores. However, Flexx is unworried stating that the album is a classic and they have tons of other songs on iTunes. "Let them try to stop the album, our songs, people have other means of getting music, iTunes isn't the only thing out there" Flexx said.
Stop Murder Music (Canada) advocates against anti-gay lyrics targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified communities. In 2007 Stop Murder Music successfully launched a campaign to stop concerts in Ontario Canada of artistes such as Sizzla, Capleton, Elephant Man, Baby Cham and Beenie Man.
( L - R ) Buju Banton, Elephant Man - File photos