Thursday, October 29, 2009
Rebel Music Super-Clash or Devil Music?
The Gaza\Gully phenomenon involving the rival musical alliances of dance-hall DJs headed by Vybz Kartel and Mavado, respectively, has totally consumed our youth culture. This was vividly demonstrated in a heated high-school discussion on All Angles on TVJ last Wednesday night. The question for people concerned with the cultural health of Black Jamaica and the quality of our musical product is: Is this just another example of the passion and vibrancy of our roots music in expressing and protesting the reality of the condition of the urban poor? Or is it both a symptom and cause of the “devil philosophy” that has penetrated the ghettoes, resulting in the triumph of a drug-and-gun culture of tribal violence and female denigration and whorism as the people lose hope in a better future?
The flip side of Afro-Caribbean culture, resting on the base of Afro-Christian (not least Rastafarian) values of peace, love, livity and justice has always been a counter-culture of protest and resistance to oppressive authority that can be branded as anti-social behaviour. Perhaps our greatest exponent of rebel music, the great Peter Tosh, was noted for his violent lyrics against the “shitstem”, often laced with colourful language. But Tosh also warned against the threat of “culture vultures”, or “vampires”, bent on destroying our musical legacy for commercial reasons – not to mention our solidarity as an oppressed people, to the advantage of Babylon.
Gaza/Gully has escalated to such proportions that it threatens to eclipse the quality music being produced by rising icons like Taurus Riley, Queen Ifrica, the Fireman crew and Etana. Progressive people can no longer continue to ignore it. It is time to take a stand one way or the other after careful analysis and seek to direct it to positively contribute to our culture. Undirected, it could further escalate into another serious source of division among Black people and tribal violence.
Let your opinions be heard by posting a comment below and by answering our poll question.
For an example of the clash, click the following link:
Do Human Rights Trump Cultural Values?
The entertainment pages and programmes of our media this week were full of stories about Buju Banton’s problems with the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-sexual) human rights lobby in several United States cities where he attempted to do shows promoting his new album.
I remember Dr. Julius Garvey, son of the National Hero, being asked at a public forum in the 1990s what was his stance on this issue. His response was simple:
“It is not a part of our cultural heritage.”
But is it enough to make this observation and leave it at that? Should consenting adults be afforded the right under Jamaican law to indulge in their gay lifestyle in privacy? There can be little rational argument against this, even if it offends our moral sensibilities. But do they have a right to openly promote their gay lifestyle within the society? That is where the clash of cultures takes place and one has to consider whether the human rights of minorities are more important than the preservation of the cultural values of that society.
Are all human rights global, or only those enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights? Should cultural values be globalised?
Have your say on this controversial topic in the global community of progressives. Post a comment below.