By: April Carson
Jamaica's broadcasting regulator will no longer allow music or TV broadcasts that condone criminal activity, violence, drug use, scamming and weapons.
The government issued the ban to reduce content that could make it appear Jamaica views criminality as a normative part of society. Artist from Jamaica spoke out against the measure, claiming it silences people who are suffering from gun violence and does little to nothing in terms of actually curbing crime rates.
Music producer and singer Stephen McGregor, who has won a Jamaican Grammy Award, said that “art imitates life, and the music is coming from what is happening in Jamaica for real.” He continued on to say that some people try to prevent its success because it doesn't fit their idea of what morality should look like.
“It’s hard to talk about the reality of what is going on in our country, because people want to paint this picture that everything is alright," McGregor said. "Jamaica is such a beautiful place, and we have so much potential, but we are not reaching it because of the gun violence and crime."
After significant effort over several years, Jamaica has enacted a ban on guns in an attempt to reduce gun violence. According to research center Insight Crime, this move is in response to Jamaica having the highest murder rate in Latin America and the Caribbean last year.
The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica announced that music or videos which feature normalized criminality should not be aired on public broadcasts, as it could influence young viewers negatively.
The directive also said that channels should avoid “urban slang” related to making money, wire transfers, acquiring wealth or a lavish lifestyle. It cited specific words like: “jungle justice,” “bank/foreign account,” “food,” “wallet,” “purse,” “private jet,” “Rolex watch,” “gold chain/teeth,” and “champagne.”
McGregor, who is known by his artist name Di GENIUS, said that he viewed the ban as a free speech issue. He also stated that the Jamaican government would be better off addressing root causes of violence, such as the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
The broadcasting commission, when asked by AP for a comment on criticisms, neither responded nor immediately detailed the consequences of a violation. They did ask the public to report any violators they see, though.
This is not the first time that Jamaican officials have attempted to restrict certain types of music. In 2018, a law was proposed that would have made it a crime to create, perform, or promote songs with “ swearing, sexual expletives, or violent lyrics.” The bill was met with backlash from members of the musical community, who said that it would stifle creativity, and it was eventually withdrawn.
McGregor, 32, said that Jamaica has previously implemented bans such as one in 2009. He also noted that throughout his career, airwaves have banned his music for making mentions of sex and guns; however, he said these restrictions never really lasted.
Rvssian, NotNice, and Romeich are not the only Jamaican artists to speak out against the directive on social media.
McGregor said that many people believe that this measure will not do much to stop violence, because youth get their media from streaming platforms. Instead of fixing the problem, McGregor believes that this is a way for the state to blame artists for its own failures.
“People usually don't create music that makes people happy and feel good in circumstances like those,” McGregor said. “It's unrealistic to expect artists to paint a picture that doesn't exist."
Jamaican artists are not the only ones speaking out against the decision. international celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Cardi B have also taken to social media to voice their opinions.
Many Jamaicans feel that this ban targets a certain type of music, and is another way for the government to censor its people.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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