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February 14, 2014
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Dancehall free again
CURTIS CAMPBELL, STAR Writer


Vybz Kartel (left) and Mavado at Sting in 2008. - File

Supporters of dancehall music have a reason to celebrate today, following Parliament's decision to remove Clause 15 of the Anti-Gang legislation.

That section of the act stated that "A person shall not use a common name or identifying sign, symbol, tattoo or other physical marking, colour or style of dress or graffiti or produce, record or perform songs to promote or facilitate the criminal activity of a criminal organisation", and was said to be aimed at preventing artistes from recording material deemed as being violent or supporting gangs.

The announcement of the removal of the clause was made by former Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, and Senior Superintendent Steve McGregor at a recent panel discussion at The University Of The West Indies, organised by the Mona Campus Youth League (MYCL), a chapter of Generation 2000 on the campus.

rise of gangs

However, McGregor still stood his ground as it related to his stance on the controversial clause. He also revealed that the clause was created as a result of the Mavado-Kartel feud, which, he said, segregated dancehall fans and facilitated the rise of gangs in local schools.

"Stop saying we are fighting dancehall. There is a section of dancehall that influences gang violence and that is what we we're trying to stop," he said.

McGregor said there are other ways to prevent dancehall from influencing the youth of Jamaica and revealed that they were currently weighing their options.

"I hope those that are perpetuating these songs will do more positive music and dancehall will get the good name that it deserves," he said.

Grange was less mournful about the axing of Clause 15 from the Anti-Gang legislation. She says the clause hampered artistic freedom and only directed focus on dancehall music, while losing sight that other genres and the movie industry also sell violent content to the public.

Dancehall artiste Stein, known for songs like Caliber (Rise The Machine) and Rifle Dem, says he is happy that the Government has finally come to its senses.

"Clause 15 didn't make any sense because when you do something like that, you breach our rights. You can't tell us not to speak about our surroundings and what is taking place in our Jamaican ghetto. That is simply foolishness," he said.

The artiste highlighted that dancehall is relatively clean because of the 'anti-bleep' rule enforced by the Broadcasting Commission, and therefore, the added pressure from the police and security minister was overbearing. The artiste also said music and movies were not supposed to be taken literal.

Other persons who spoke out against the clause, and perhaps wished for its demise, were Minister Damion Crawford, dancehall duo Twin Of Twins and members of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA).

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