The ‘Shebadarization’ of Kartel
There have been few other dancehall artistes in my lifetime that has so pushed the boundaries of normality than Mr. Adijah Palmer, popularly known as Kartel. Whether it’s his graphic sexual lyrics or his ability to get the population to accept bleaching as something positive, one thing remains true; Kartel nuh play enuh.
Many of you would already be familiar with my views on Kartel, I think his influence over our population is largely negative and he reinforces social ills. [Clarks, Benz and Cake Soap : The Kartel Syndrome] However, it is the artiste’s latest alteration to his appearance that has me downright baffled. Apparently, Kartel has put in hair extensions or weave or false hair. Whatever you wanna call it. And I just have one question, what the hell is up with that?? He already has the bleached, skinny, look down, why would he put in a weave? He looks like little more than a ghetto gyal now. I’m sorry, that’s just what I think.
I think it’s prudent that I explain my choice of title before I continue. You see, Shebada is largely held to be the poster boy (?) (LOL! I’m kidding!) for ghetto and loose and sketel. So the first thing that came to mind when I saw Kartel’s appearance was “Shebada”. He looks as if he can just flash di weave and trace yuh! As Miss Kitty would say, “class any dead meat”. So I’m in no way seeking to be offensive to Mr. Shebada. More like paying tribute to his status as ghetto boy? gyal? (LOL! Again, I’m kidding!) The reality is that the character of Shebada is an androgynous one. A man portrays a woman with extraordinary female characteristics, most of which are sketel and loose. I mean no offence. I just thought I’d clear that up.
Seriously though, the sort of androgynous behaviour of Kartel is not only contrary to the overtly masculine culture of dancehall, but also contrary to the culture of Jamaica. Are we to assume that Kartel is beginning the liberalisation of our culture? We’re accepting female looking men now? Celebrating them? And if that’s so, why were we so quick to condemn Michael Jackson’s physical alteration?
What I find strange is that his fans are seemingly un-bothered by his appearance. The man almost looks like a woman! And I believe it is pure hypocrisy, because had it been another male artiste, the backlash would have been great. He’d almost certainly be labelled a “fag”, but such is the influence of Kartel. A blind eye is turned towards his bizarre behaviour. Always has been. This is blatant hypocrisy! And I ask again, what gives him this amount of influence? The music?
I’m even further distressed that our young men, who are so easily swayed by him, may add hair extensions. What will happen then? Does it become the norm? Then again, is it a new trend for “straight” males to put in weaves? I’m not very familiar with the dancehall culture, perhaps someone can tell me. Where will Kartel’s line be drawn? He bleached, he tattooed, he wears skinny jeans and tight fitting blouse looking tops and now he wears a weave? What if he starts endorsing oral sex? Do we all start proudly sucking? Where is the line? And how many of us are prepared to say enough is enough?
You see, on one hand, I’m pleased that he’s forcing difference on the Jamaican reality. Forcing us to come to terms with the fact that there is diversity and choice and all that nice stuff, but I’m also very disturbed by his attempt to endorse his choices as right and ones that should be adapted. I just cannot accept that.
So yes, I believe we’re seeing the beginning of the “Shebadarization” of Kartel and I doubt we should be surprised by his next move. Who knows, maybe he’ll start wearing eyeliner and mascara. Let’s wait and see.
Kartel : “Di gyal dem love off my bleach out face…”
Russian: “Dawg, yuh nuh play enuh!”
Kartel : “Mi nuh response fi man, mi nuh gay enuh!”
Mhm. Okaaay sir.