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Jun 6, 2013

Youth inspired by dancehall music

Music is a form of emotional expression. For young people, popular music is the medium through which they often express their mood, aspiration and development of their own cultural identity. Tonight News Five’s Isani Cayetano looks at the power of song and in this case, the power of dancehall music. 


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Across the Caribbean, the inescapability of dancehall music, as one of the most influential factors in shaping modern cultural identity, is greatest among our youth.  The aptitude with which one is able to soundly recite the lyrics of his or her favorite song is nothing short of amazing.


Omar Amjad, Student, E.P. Yorke High School

“Their music, their lyrics, it’s just, the beat is relevant and amped and the music, what they say is, to me, it’s not good [or] positive but it’s very popular.”


Elden ‘Stone Jam’ Hyde

That pervasiveness is due, in large part, to the host of radio disc jockeys permeating the airwaves with songs from artists across the genre: Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Gaza Slim and Tommy Lee.  Together, their music is a collection of misogyny, violence and streams of social consciousness.


Elden ‘Stone Jam’ Hyde, Legendary Belizean DJ

“I have a nine-year-old daughter [and] Tommy Lee is one of her favorite artists.  She let me know a lot of Tommy Lee’s songs that I didn’t know and she knows the words of those songs and she says all the kids in her class know the words of his songs.”


Dancehall recording artist Tommy Lee, alias Captain Sparta, for those who do not know, is among Jamaica’s most controversial.


Omar Amjad

Omar Amjad

“He has very demonic songs such as ‘Uncle Demon‘, where he says, “Uncle Demon, Nephew Demon…Tommy Lee.


Heavily criticized for his diabolic subject matter, Tommy Lee’s songs, to the discerning, can be viewed as nothing more than artistic expression and entertainment.


Bobby Chin, Dancehall DJ/Black Chiney

“As an artist you don’t really think a child gwein tek up the lyrics and act upon it.”


There is where the misconception lies.  In Belize, life, too often, imitates art.


Isani Cayetano

Bobby Chin

“There are artists out there who have a lot to say and some of what they is very controversial.  Talk to us about the lyrical content, for instance, for an artist like Tommy Lee.”


Bobby Chin

“If Tommy Lee says uncle demon, I don’t think he’s a demon really, but then again now, if you put all of that into context: killer, gangster and demon [it] equals nothing positive fi kids, yo undastand.  But then again it’s just music.”


And music, according to Dr. Elma Augustine, a clinical psychologist, has a way of influencing one’s mind.


Elma Augustine

Dr. Elma Augustine, Clinical Psychologist

“I believe music is so powerful it can connect with what we call our essence and our soul in many ways.  We know that when we listen to music, research has shown that when we listen to music that it affects the brainwave and the brainwave connects to the certain mood of the lyrics and the music.”


“Seh dem a killa and nobody neva heard a dem/tough chat like yo wahn man fraid ah yo/mind me send one ah mih demon gyal from Sparta come suck off yo c*ck and murda yo/dis mi now a no if nor suppose/send mi dead friend dem come shoot yo eena crowd/and don’t try running cause you will get ghost” – Psycho, Tommy Lee


Isani Cayetano

“You are able to discern what is entertainment or what can be an impression or an expression of a real life situation.  What do you tell the other person who recites Tommy Lee’s lyrics and who wants to live out some of these things that Tommy Lee sings about?”


Omar Amjad

“I’d tell him he’s very crazy because Tommy Lee is a very violent man and I wouldn’t want to live his life.  It’s the entertainment I’m mostly concerned with and not his personal life.”


Veteran disc jockey Elden ‘Stone Jam’ Hyde is surgical on the turntables.  As a pioneer, he introduced dancehall music to Belize almost three decades ago.


Elden ‘Stone Jam’ Hyde

“I da one ah di DJ weh bring dancehall eena di club ‘cause when I was doing the clubs in the early eighties da mi club music used to play at the club and me and Kenny Morgan, who was a DJ at the same time, we start ah experiment wid push di lee reggae eena di club.  Every now and again wi play whateva di dance, di dance music but we offer wah lee different flava wid di Caribbean thing weh we drop di lee dancehall.”


Over the years, he has seen and somehow managed to keep up with the constant evolution of the art form.  In staying current, Stone Jam is part of the movement to bring Tommy Lee to Belize.


Mindful of the core audience of this brand of music, Hyde reiterates the fact that it’s all just entertainment.


Elden ‘Stone Jam’ Hyde

“It’s the kids that listen to Tommy Lee songs.”


Dr. Elma Augustine

“There should be some sense of responsibility especially when a large majority of, say youths, buy into what you’re feeding them.  But again, I think we can’t really legislate them unfortunately, and that’s where I think other people in the life of young people would have to jump in and take some responsibility for…listening to what, especially the really young ones are listening to.”


Equally, similar emphasis should be placed on what they are watching.  Beyond the overt sexuality and violence in music videos are subliminal messages and symbols, such as the Udjat or Eye of Horus, which depicts the all-seeing eye of the Illuminati.  The Udjat signifies the eyes of Lucifer, who is believed to see everything happening in the world.  That imagery is very much present in music videos by Tommy Lee.


Bobby Chin

“People crave for stupidness and that’s unfortunate, I mean, I can’t change it, you can’t change it but wih just haffi know as a youth yo haffi just know, yo haffi think conscious then. Social responsibility is a big thing because dancehall music is very controversial.”


…and that sense of obligation to monitor what is being fed to our youth through music is incumbent on all of us in moulding our distinctive cultural identity. Reporting for news five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “Youth inspired by dancehall music”

  1. Rose says:

    And monitor we should! But sadly this kind of crap is all that is heard on the radio stations in Belize. To top it all off, the majority of these senseless noise is just that – noise; they make no sense lyrically or other wise. What is up with the government entity that gives out radio licences? They should take this up as part of their job – monitoring the stations on what is being played. This dancehall foolishness contributes a lot to the negativity permeating throughout our country. It’s sad when you hear a parent say that their 9-year old knows all the words to these songs. I would be more proud to say that my child loves classical music and plays a string instrument!

  2. Ms. JA says:

    For clarity, Dancehall is not from the “Caribbean”. Dancehall was born in Jamaica as well the four popular artistes referred to in the segment. Dancehall is one of the dynamic arms of Jamaica’s Reggae Music.

    Our Dancehall of course is controversial so it must be censored! For this reason alone, parents in Belize, Jamaica and the wider world must learn to censor the music their children listen to.

    Media houses in Jamaica are prohibited from playing the “raw” versions of our Dancehall music. They can only play the “clean” versions of the songs which is the very reason why our Jamaican artistes create more than one versions of their songs to facilitate the different audiences listening to their music as well adhere to our legislations put in place to monitor censorship as well punish breaches of same. For instance our local stage shows and artistes are prohibited in using profanities in their acts. Thus, Jamaica censors Dancehall through our media houses as well legislations to monitor same. Now I am not saying that these measures alone prevent our children from being exposed to the “slackness” of Dancehall. Our children may attend parties where Dancehall is being played in addition to watching and listening Dancehall on the Internet via social medias, YouTube, etc… But this is why it is very important for parents, guardians, schools, media houses and the entire community to play their part in censoring Dancehall and any genre of music that have adult content not suitable for our youngsters!

    Sometimes when I listen to the local radio stations here in Belize, I am appalled when I hear the “raw” version of our dancehall songs being played and wonder to myself if there are no regulations in place to prohibit and monitor the music being played on the airwaves. This may be the major reason why the youngsters here in Belize are generally exposed to the “rawness” of our Dancehall music.

    May I humbly suggest looking into measures to censor what is being played on our local airwaves instead of portraying a morbid generalization and classification of Jamaica’s Dancehall music.

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