Best News & Current Affairs Blog (2011 & 2012) and Jamaican Blogger of the Year (2011) at The Jamaica Blog Awards.

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?

Sigh.

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.

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32 responses

  1. Jack Andrews

    “Seriously though, the sort of androgynous behaviour of Kartel is not only contrary to the overtly masculine culture of dancehall”

    Wow, are you serious? Braids. whether real or fake, and similar hairstyles have been around dancehall for over a decade.
    (See Kiprich, Yellowman, Bounty Killa, Aidonia etc.)

    As for the tight fitting clothing, I think you’ll have to blame the Americanisation of Jamaica for that one, and in this case it started with the “youths” long before Kartel took up that line of… erm… fashion.

    Bleaching, while controversial, is irrelevant if the topic is androgyny…. whether you want to take his reasoning or that of the “masses”.

    The comparison drawn with Michael Jackson is also somewhat off, as the main reason MJ was criticised was because his alteration was in an effort to be more accepted by his country.
    Vybz Kartel, on the other hand, already being accepted, seems to relish the thought of being different and controversial… an attention seeker if you will.

    It seems so me as if you have a preconceived opinion of
    Vybz Kartel, and you’ve tried to use various observations to fit the mould, rather than use them to shape it.

    In my opinion, nowhere near as well written or as well thought out as your previous posts.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    • Thank you for your comments. I noted several fallacies which led me to conclude that you either support the androgynous behaviour or you’re one of the “sheep” he references, also known as his fans. You see, I took no issue with the origins of wearing braids in dancehall, my point is that it is contrary to the masculine culture that dancehall is based on (See Dr. Donna Hope’s writings on the subject). She posits that this is a subtle injection of homosexual tendencies (I’m paraphrasing) in the dancehall culture. She goes that much further. You have sought to explain the origins of the bizarre practices of Kartel, you are yet to engage on the larger issue of whether his behaviour is normal or abnormal. I submit it is abnormal. I’m afraid you missed entirely the point of this post. Finally, as it relates to your snide comment regarding my spelling, take comfort in the fact that I’m using an American invention to type and so the american culture would find it’s way into Her Majesty’s English. Again, thanks for commenting and continuing reading 🙂

      May 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    • Nella

      so because he is talking about your artist i presume it isnt good? Seems like you are 1 of the sheep and puppet he was ref. to

      May 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

  2. Christina

    Him starting to look like Michael Jackson in a way. I think him just a try fi keep himself inna d spot light. I wont be surprised if him admit that him gay or ynam pussy. It surprise me how accepting Jamaicans have become to dese type a behavior. If it was sum1 else, yuh wuda hear how dem start scandal and label dat person. I agree that it’s bey hypocrisy. Mi nave ntn against Kartel but I hate his music. It’s degrading to women and him is just a bad influence. Mi affi smh when me see how d girl dem gwaan ova him. Bunch a idiots.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    • That is my concern. Our society and culture is either playing the hypocrite, or coming to a place of acceptance. We’ll see though.

      May 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    • chucky

      i like that comment christina. more ja girls need to be intellectual like u bbz

      May 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      • Hahaha! Christina, you have a fan! LOL!

        May 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      • Christina

        lol yes chucki! that’s right!

        May 13, 2011 at 11:32 pm

  3. Jack Andrews

    Oh, and if you want an example of the Americanisation of our country, look no further than your spelling.

    May 11, 2011 at 9:13 pm

  4. Ricardo

    Lovely article. It is clear to me mr Jack Andrews is a die hard Kartel supporter. I do agree. With him on some points that a lot of aspects in Kartel’s demeanour has been around long before he cloned them. However he has voiced his opinions about hating perceived homosexuals. And he himself in my opinion is now a flaminf queen. In my oponion, it is not being gay Jamaicans have a problem with. It is a feminine man we really dont like. Lets be realisti . And Kartel is now well sitting on the boderline. Honestly I think he is only doing this to remain in the spotlight, nothing else. However it is blatant hypocrisy that his followers are unaffected by this but if Shebada does this, he is ridiculed. What a sad state of affairs it is when one man does something its praised but when another does it, he is scandalled.

    May 13, 2011 at 3:14 am

    • Yes. I have considered that. Somehow if masculinity is not compromised we have no problem. We are quicker to condemn an effeminate homosexual than we are to condemn a “str8 acting” one, not saying Kartel is gay. The allusion in the post was merely for humour. If an effeminate guy got a weave and bleached his skin to that degree and wore tight clothes, would we be so accommodating? I don’t think so. And we need to question why we wouldn’t and why we accept it from Kartel.

      May 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

  5. I can’t really explain the thought process behind kartel’s actions but let me be the devils advocate here. I will have to think on it and write out a longer post at some point when I get the inspiration; however this me note some points.

    Whether or not Jack Andrews is a Kartel support does not make his point any less correct. Elephant man had his hair in a twist from ages ago, even had it “coloured”. I am sure it did not bring forth the Armageddon.

    May 13, 2011 at 11:24 am

    • And I take that point, I’m not saying the weave is novel or unique to Kartel. I’m just saying it alters his appearance in a way that makes him look…odd. Creepy. Almost female. And if we trace his music, he has always been overtly masculine, so the weave is a bit off putting. Nothing more, nothing less. Thanks for your thoughts man.

      May 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

      • I don’t think it will have any effect on the masculinity of his music. Even so I don’t think these artist do half of the things they sing about. He does have a few quality songs though.

        May 13, 2011 at 3:59 pm

      • Well, that’s debatable. It all depends on what you call “quality”.

        May 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    • I was disappointed I didn’t receive the ping back to alert me to the post you made re this post. I just found it though and attempted to comment. Quite a rant Owen. Lol.

      May 19, 2011 at 2:43 pm

  6. Nella

    i dislike kartel as an artist because he knows the influence he has on dancehall and yet he choices to do fuckery(can i say that) 1st of all how can you refer to ppl as puppets then ref. to them as sheep and expect ppl to rate you hmmmmm then again is must some dunce or idiot him a talk…..#MyOpinion he wasnt given much attention as a child and now he is willing to do anything to get it from ppl and whats up with this explanation after every fuckery stun he pulls he needs to quit it, i will and forever be a beenie fan because he is a real artist and he doesnt use the media as his play ground or as a medium to get attention he didnt get as a child……….so what if other artist wear braids do they look like a character out of a scary movie or do they look like the walking dead why did u cut ur hair in the pass if you know u wanted hair now kmft…..ppl need to stop making excuses for his fuckery and tell him and all the yes man dat hang roun him need fi get a big lick wid a hamma cause dem claim dem a him fren and none can look at him and tell him how awful him look……….KARTEL I ORNELLA YOUNG SAY YOU LOOK LIKE SHIT and me glad my mother, auntie, sister or cousin neva leff dem crotches cyaliss fi yuh push yuh dutty hood inna

    May 13, 2011 at 11:55 am

  7. Christina

    Dwl at nella… yes man a true. I would really appreciate if him clean up him act and do sum positive music.

    May 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm

  8. KristinaNeil

    With the rate at which the Jamaican population(and im not generalizing, if you choose to let this stone hit you..that’s unfortunate) is emulating and becoming more accepting of Vybz Kartel’s antics, is the more I worry for the future of our country(as if it wasn’t already in jeopardy). You made an excellent point when you highlighted the fact that if any other artist had done this he would reap a bag a negative comments, people call him gay and all sort a things…but with kartel….almost nothing? I recently saw a comment and someone said “low di artist man…mi nuh care weh him do Gaza mi seh foreva” are you *profanity* kidding me? Now I am all for freedom of expression..but as for hypocrisy..no..
    Kartel is not even looking at the fact that his current demeanor goes against everything he use to sing about…but i have observed and come to the conclusion that everything that he does is pre-meditated(well duh) meaning that he knows that this will get him more publicity whether acceptable or not…but him need fi realise seh..people are now viewing the once unpredictable kartel as highly predictable…so whatever other fuckery him might come wid..it nah go seem shocking….but honestly a not even Kartel mi pissed at..a the jamaican people who continue to place him on such a high level..the man call dem all sort a tings and dem still suck up every bullshit them throw at them..plz people start acting ur age and not ur what the whites signified your pigment as

    May 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    • I love this! U’ve officially made the longest comment since I started the blog. Anyhow, I can’t figure out why he’s so influential. I guess people just really love his music, they cannot see beyond it. And to be fair, his personal life is his business. I just have a problem that he promotes the ills as being worthy of emulation.

      May 16, 2011 at 11:39 pm

      • KristinaNeil

        Lol..you love the length or the comment? anyway i do agree with you..but it can be debated that his personal life is becoming a public issue due to him and his “flock”

        May 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm

  9. KristinaNeil

    wow neva know it suh long..hmm

    May 16, 2011 at 11:30 pm

  10. KristinaNeil

    And as it regards weave and the fact that elephant man have it too..yes he does. BUT Kartel has exalted himself to be a certain type of man…and putting in the weave, wear tight-brightly colored clothes etc are things that one would expect from a homosexual man who wishes to outwardly manifest his inward femininity…Don’t claim to be a cetain thing and then go agains it and expect me to take u seriously thereafter…bitch please

    May 16, 2011 at 11:37 pm

  11. DaProngs

    I honestly believe Kartel has his agenda and he knows what he’s doing. Don’t know what his plan is but all we can do is wait and see. The last person I saw whose face was bleached and had in extensions was a man at Jamaica Aids Support who was attempting to hit on me. This might just be a way for him to be publicly living out a fantasy.

    May 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    • Ha. So that fantasy would be what? Cross dressing? Lol. I kid. He more than likely just enjoys the publicity. It gets him attention and keeps him relevant.

      May 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm

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  14. Teach

    Kartel has done this country a great injustice. I’m in the education industry and daily I’m appalled at the influence kartel has on the children in school, especially the boys. So often I’ll stop male students and enquire why the tight trousers, shaved eyebrow and body blouses. The majority of them have no valid reason apart from claiming ” A GAZA DEM SAY”. This is non-sense; kartel is like the pied piper.He is presently leading the next generation in a ditch…..Guess Jamaica is reaping what is has sown, mental slavery. The colonial days taught us how to enslave each other (uncle Toms), and our politicians practised the art of mental slavery throughout the years….now our entertainers. We have all destroyed our beloved Jamaica, some of us have literally placed the axe to the root..while some sit with their hands over their mouths……As Bob Marley(Jamaica’s greatest entertainer) says, “Emancipate Yourselves from Mental Slavery, non but ourselves can free our minds”

    August 12, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    • I honestly couldn’t have said it better! I take my hat off to you teacher. Negative societal influences such as Kartel only serve to complicate the job you are called upon to do. Thanks for your thoughts & keep reading 🙂

      August 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

  15. Shaking My Head...

    Vybez Kartel is an entertainer, NOT a role model. Who cares if he misleads a bunch of future convicts. If the parents of the “influenced” gave a damn, they would prepare their “influenced” to better accept entertainment as such and not a lifestyle. For the most part, I too was a part of the shoot down battyman mentality, and bun out the tight pants, and bun the sagging pants, the Gucci,and the such, OH, and the bleach out face, BUT, it’s easier to discriminate THOSE kinds of “blacks”, for a lack of a better word, from, well, myself.
    If you’re looking for world peace and waiting for Jesus to come YOU’RE THE SHEEP. For the most part, the conscious nubians cannot, for some reason- get the “blacks”, negros, niggers, and the mentally enslaved to follow suit. One may not like the way that he presents himself, moreover, you may “HATE” him and his music. But it doesnt matter because you clearly state that you dont financially support him. BUT HE MAKES MONEY ANYWAY. CONCLUSION: Your opinions dont count. He himself doesn’t even make real money off of this reggae thing. The music industry is at a bust. Maybe he makes a million or two US off of his shows. STILL ANNO REAL MONEY DAT. So continue to fight down your brother and lay claim to him misleading the youths. Why not point out the white movie stars and the politicians that sell out your land to people who dont care about you, only to raise your food prices. I challenge all of you to grow up and become intelligent.

    This gentleman is brand building like Jay-z or any other highly paid entertainer. Can you see that your crab in a barrel mentalities are as bad as his “negative” lyrics?

    Alot of the above comments depict a bunch of third world uneducated opinions. Focus on your country’s debt, focus on your death rate..Where is your CHRIST? Where is he to deal with Kartel?…RAN OUT OF TIME….

    August 25, 2011 at 11:58 am

  16. Better late than never. I’m just discovering your blog.

    March 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm

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