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Not dancehall’s fault’
Clyde McKenzie defends the music

CLYDE McKenzie is calling on persons seeking to blame dancehall music for society’s moral breakdown and rise in criminal activity not to be so hasty in their judgement.

The music producer, artiste manager and cultural commentator was speaking to the Jamaica Observer following Monday’s conviction of Ninjaman (given name Desmond Ballentine). The dancehall deejay was found guilty of murder, following a 2009 shooting incident which left Ricardo Johnson dead.

Ninjaman’s son, Janeil, and Dennis Clayton were also found guilty in relation to Johnson’s death.

In 2014 another high-profile deejay, Vybz Kartel (real name Adidja Palmer), was charged for murder and is currently serving a life sentence.

According to McKenzie, it is more about the social structure from which the artiste comes, as opposed to the music itself, that should be implicated.

“Dancehall music is always implicated in the most unsavoury of situations. I am not for one moment saying that there aren’t some messages in this form of the music which are unwholesome, but the fact of the matter is these come from some of the experiences of these artistes. The blame we ascribe to the music because of the actions of a few artistes doesn’t follow for other sectors of society. When a banker does something illegal, we don’t classify the entire banking sector. We need to just see people as people and accept that they err.”

“You find that there is a level of socialisation which predisposes a lot of these artistes to certain types of anti-social behaviour. These include poverty, absentee fathers, the level of literacy. Therefore, we are often time too hasty to blame the music,” he told the Observer.

McKenzie also took on the notion that some persons from similar circumstances are able to overcome these social hurdles and not yield to antisocial behaviour.

“A lot of these same artistes have overcome the challenges and are able to make it out. On the other hand, there are those who make it out but get sucked back in due to the relationship they have with their community. Not everyone will escape. That all has to do with the personality traits of the individual. It is a very complicated thing… a symbiotic relationship between the artistes who are seen as philosophers and the badmen who are the protectors.”

For McKenzie, the answer lies in challenging the existential problem of poverty and social injustice.

“We have to start with tackling poverty and that tendency by some to be violent, both of which seem to always be with us, by creating the conditions which minimise their growth and development. Personally I don’t know if changing the music will facilitate this. That is always a low-hanging fruit which many persons hang on to. I have seen no conclusive studies which point to a direct correlation, so it is therefore mostly conjecture. Implicating the music is taking it a bit too far,” said McKenzie.


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5 comments to this article

  1. Anonymous

    on November 23, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

    Wen the mias family ago get justice

  2. Yardielovethug

    on November 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Ian Boyne is the main perpetrator fighting against and blaming dancehall culture for society’s ills. I use to can see with one or two of his points but overall he deserves a one SYM.Thus SYM Ian Boyne n those of like-mind ignoring that dancehall culture is a subset n microcosm of the wider society…a near perfect depiction n reflection of our Jamaica.

    SYM again Ian Boyne n all who a blame ninja n kartel as the total representation of dancehall… whappen to Papa San.. even General Degree.. Shaggy..Sean Paul even the said Vegas deh…dem stay out a trouble n do positive stuff!!Do y’all give dem credit for the society’s good??

    How can we forget the legendary meal deal combo of Beenie man and Bounty killa..why boost n highlight convicted murderers kartel n ninja over dem?? SYM again and again Ian Boyne!

  3. Rehs

    on November 23, 2017 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    He’s very well spoken. I agree with him 100%

  4. Anonymous

    on November 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    I think one of the issues I have with violent or overly sexual lyrics is that I am somehow unable to avoid it. From taxi drivers, ppp buses, a shop in the neighbourhood, neighbours or wherever, it seems that one must be exposed to this music whether you desire to hear it or not. I should not have to hear these filthy lyrics unless I put myself in a place to hear them, like a stage show or a nightclub.

  5. ramjam

    on November 24, 2017 at 8:23 am - Reply

    it might not be dancehall’s fault but dancehall is no doubt a contributing factor, also dancehall is not the enabler but dancehall’s culture of lewdness and violence does plays a role to some extent as it has a profound psychological and cultural impact on the people especially the youths who are vulnerable and susceptible to cultural influence.

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