Reggae music has been the one thing that has opened Jamaica to the world. Reggae came from ska and rock steady, and in turn would spawn a wide range of different styles, including dancehall. Dancehall has been around for years, either speaking about the struggle of living poor in Jamaica, feeling good about life, or getting “slack” by talking about everything from robbing people to having sex with the most beautiful women on a nightly basis, it has always been raw. Some artists, such as Buju Banton, have moved from doing slack material to being a conscious artist.
A few may argue that today’s dancehall is as rough and rugged as today’s hip-hop, although most hip-hop would never touch on some of the subjects dancehall artists reguarly speak on. Nonetheless, it seems the jamaica Broadcasting Commission has had enough, or at least they may have finally awaken, depending on your point of view. According to an article at Global Voices, a new song by Vybz Cartel featuring Spice called “Ramping Shop” (video shown above) has been permanently banned because of its explicit lyrics. The article by Bianca Welds goes on to say that any song with references to “daggering”, and songs that attempts to censor those lyrics, will not get any airplay.. Daggering is the act of having simulated sex on the dancefloor, a “dry hump” if you will, and the music can sometimes motivate people to get a little crazy without going overboard. There is some sense of control on the dancefloor of course, but the fear is that the tone of the music/lyrics and the visuals in the video are not appropriate for children. Arguably that’s true, and perhaps it’s to suggest that Jamaica’s regulations on the music when applied to the airwaves has been lax.
Anyone who knows dancehall music knows that its suggestive imagery and lyrics has been a part of the music for years. Watch the video for Chaka Demus & Pliers‘ “Murder She Wrote”:
Or watch Shabba Ranks’ “Ting-A-Ling” video where he’s talking about “turning the key” in an open-air classroom, waiting for the teacher to be over with work as her students look at a man dancing and waiting for teacher to show off the “donkey”.
Obviously, some of these songs aren’t for kids but to outright ban them? To me, it seems it’s the role of the parent or guardian to shield the songs from their kids, not any government appointed commission but perhaps it’s a movement to change what dancehall represents, even though dancehall has never limited itself to one style of lyrics.
The Vybz Cartel & Spice track is really good, what I wish governments and record labels would do is ban Auto-Tune, as i think that song would be a hundred times better without it. Perhaps another topic, another time.