Homophobia in Dancehall Lyrics “ Pon bed pon floor against wall We sex dem all till dem call mi and di girls dem sugar dats all Welcome di king of di dancehall Pon bed pon floor against wall We sex dem all till dem call mi and di girls dem sugar dats all Welcome di king of di dancehall ” - Beanie Man, “King of the Dancehall”
What exactly is dancehall music? <ul><li>Dancehall music first came into existence in the early 1980s. The term “dancehall” was coined because so many of the records were deemed unfit for mainstream radio and therefore was only appropriate to be played in dancehalls. </li></ul><ul><li>Dancehall music has roots in reggae, but is comprised of computerized beats and digitalized hooks. </li></ul><ul><li>The entire genre of dancehall music is considered to be the creation of Henry "Junjo" Lawes in 1979 and further refined by King Jammy in the early 80's during their transition from dub to dancehall. </li></ul>Henry "Junjo" Lawes King Jammy
Homophobia and Dancehall Music - What’s the connection? Dancehall music has come under immense scrutiny for it’s blatant anti-homophobic message. Dancehall songs are filled with messages of killing, beating and outright hatred of gays. The root of these lyrics is due to widespread homophobic feelings in the country of Jamaica, where many if not all dancehall/reggae artist call home. Jamaican law states that buggery, or homosexual behavior, is punishable by law.
Beenie Man’s “Roll Deep” Beenie Man - Roll Deep Roll deep motherfucka, kill pussy-sucker Roll deep motherfucker, kill pussy-sucker Pussy-sucker:a lesbian, or anyone who performs cunnilingus. Tek a Bazooka and kill batty-fucker Take a bazooka and kill bum-fuckers [gay men]
Bounty Killer - “Look Good” Chorus: Tell dem fi look good, tell dem go look keen Whateva him a talk bout inna different scene Phat Gwen Stefani a she was my queen Mi ready fi go wipe out this fag wid pure laser beam Look good, tell dem fi look keen Caan mix mi up inna dem battyman scheme Fi mi go tun a fag not in yuh wierdest dream Warlord straight like a any brand scene
Examples of homophobic lyrics from popular reggae artists:
The History Behind Homophobia in Jamaica <ul><li>Jamaica is known as one of the most homophobic countries in the world. There are a few factors that contribute to this overall presence of homophobia in the region. </li></ul><ul><li>The Jamaican government does not provide equal rights for men or women who practice homosexuality. This leads to everyone from common folk to police attacking gays or lesbians, and there is utterly nothing the victims can do. </li></ul><ul><li>Religious intolerance - Christianity is the primary religion practiced in Jamaica. Jamaica’s Christian pastors preach strongly against it. </li></ul><ul><li>Politicians - Many of Jamaica’s high level politicians foster an atmosphere of violence towards gays and lesbians. For example, during the 2001 elections, the Jamaican Labour Party (the main opposition party) adopted “Chi Chi Man,” which celebrates burning and killing gay men, as its theme song. The ruling People’s National Party responded by adopting as its campaign slogan for the 2002 national elections “Log On to Progress,” a reference to a popular song and dance (“log on”) involving kicking or stomping on gay men. </li></ul>
Here, an angry mob of 2000+ people who insulted, chased and stoned three gay men in Kingston in February 2007. In July 2006, a lesbian couple was brutally stabbed to death. The lead suspect in this case has not to this day even been questioned by police yet.
The Political Backlash Many human rights and gay rights activists have not been silent in regards to the openly homophobic lyrics of dancehall music. Just this past July, three huge reggae artists signed the Reggae Compassionate Act. Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton significantly felt the effects of anti-homophobic movements. A number of their sold out concerts were cancelled around the world as a result of uprisings against their anti-gay hate songs.
Beenie Man Capleton Sizzla In the Reggae Compassionate Act the three singers pledge to: “ Respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender” “ There’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia” “ We agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community”
The Stop Murder Music campaign is jointly run with the Black Gay Men's Advisory Group and Jamaican gay rights organization J-Flag. The campaign had begun targeting eight leading Jamaican performers who were exposed for recording homophobic lyrics. Artists such as the dancehall reggae star Beenie Man whose hits include the song "Batty Man Fi Dead" were banned. The campaign continues to urge organizations worldwide to intensify the campaign to cancel the remaining five singers’ concerts and their record, sponsorship and advertising deals.
The eight artists who are currently being sought after for severe homophobic lyrics.
The debate over dancehall lyrics became an international issue when artists such as Sean Paul, Beenie Man and Elephant Man became internationally known. Little did listeners know what they were chanting as they listened to the latest dancehall hit. The issue has opened the world’s eyes to the homophobic attitudes that not only plagues Jamaica but poses a threat on the population of Jamaica as well.
One step at a time, organizations like Stop Murder Music are combating the homophobic ideals in dancehall music. To think that such animosity and hatred exists in the world is frightening and disturbing. But the battle is being fought to end the violence and terror towards gays in dancehall lyrics.
Bibliography <ul><li>Dancehall. (2007, November 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:54, November 12, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dancehall&oldid=171853146 </li></ul><ul><li>Manuel, Peter, with Kenneth Bilby and Michael Largey. Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae (2nd edition). Temple University Press, 2006. </li></ul><ul><li>Stewart, K. (2002). “`So wha, mi nuh fi live to’: Interpreting violence in Jamaica through the Dancehall Culture” in Ideaz, 1 : 1, pp. 17-28 </li></ul><ul><li>Human Rights Watch, http://hrw.org/reports/2004/jamaica1104/6.htm#_Toc87670793 </li></ul><ul><li>FindArticles - `Murder music' silenced by a tough operator Independent, The (London), Mar 7, 2005, by Ian Burrell, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20050307/ai_n11857274 </li></ul><ul><li>Thompson, Christopher. “Curbing Homophobia in Reggae.” Time Magazine. 07 August 2007 http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1650585,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar </li></ul><ul><li>"dancehall music." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 13 Nov. 2007 http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9118214 </li></ul><ul><li>Peter Tatchell, The Impact Of The Murder Music Campaign. http://www.riddimja.com/News_pg41.htm </li></ul>