After deliberating for just under two hours, the 11 member jury returned its verdict. The three men and eight women found Adijah Palmer, and three of his four co-accused, guilty of the murder of Clive “Lizard” Williams. The verdict has put to rest a legal drama that began in 2011, one which fascinated and mystified the nation, but there were more sinister undercurrents at play here. As much as my own conscience tells me justice has been done, and as much as I would rather not see any selfless heroism in a convicted murderer; I am unable to shake the feeling that in the end Vybz Kartel was able to serve as a living testament, a sacrificial lamb of sorts, for many of the realities dancehall music has explored over the years. Kartel’s arrest, trial and conviction put the very state on trial, and on nearly all counts, Jamaica was found guilty.
Editor’s Note : The views expressed below are not my own. This is the fourth installment in the guest posts series. Written by Brandon Allwood (@BrandonAllwood), it discusses the impact, or lack thereof, of Kartel’s absence from the local music scene. Enjoy.
There is hardly a Jamaican who can say they don’t know Vybz Kartel. The one-time protégé of dancehall superstar Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel dominated the dancehall scene for years with lyrically lethal songs and commentary that barked at the heels of societal attitudes.
Kartel has won immutable praises from music fans who simply cannot resist the urge to litter the skyline with ‘gun fingers’ and lighters or stake their claim on the dance floor whenever his infectious rhymes emanate from speaker boxes. As Kartel navigated the murky waters of dancehall, it soon became clear that the self-proclaimed dancehall hero was in a class of his own.
His hold on the dancehall scene was firm and a seemingly never-ending stream of singles kept flooding the airwaves… not that music lovers complained. Yes, there are those who refused to enjoy songs from his catalogue when they sided with any one of a number of artistes Kartel engaged in musical brawls with—but his screaming fans outnumbered the ‘anti-Kartel’ community by far.
There are a few things that are considered necessary in order to live a comfortable life in the 21st century. We all need a cell phone, cable TV, a computer and…
Now before you get upset and close the tab, because you think I’ve wasted your time; consider how many times you’ve read or heard “Hi Haters!” or “Good Morning Bad mind, how are you doing today?” Yes, it would appear that “haters” have become essential to a comfortable life. They are now indispensable accessories, without which your life lacks meaning and worth.
If no one is hating on you, you’ve been doing something very wrong. So, what causes “haters? From whence do they come? And how do we gain them?
“Gimmie di benz punnani mek mi gwaan drive it out, all taxi pum pum gwaan guh cool out.” – Adijah Palmer
I was recently apart of a debate which sought to assess the “blackness” of Mr. Adijah Palmer, more commonly known as Vybz Kartel; in light of his tampering with the pigmentation of his skin. And while driving home on the yellow JUTC bus, the A/C type, (yup, maw #Hottaz), Kartel’s voice blared from the speakers, inviting all young ladies who felt their vaginas were synonymous with his benz to come forward so that he might “drive it out”. I began to reflect on the unprecedented influence Kartel has on the young people of this country and I became deeply saddened.
I shook my head in disappointment because I believe Kartel’s most popular songs of the last two (2) years have done nothing but glorify promiscuity, commercialism and disrespected the female body, indeed the black race. While the beats of his songs are engaging and stimulating, I have to draw a line where a child refuses to go to school because he or SHE (sas crise!) does not have a pair of Clarks. I have to draw a line where a woman is persuaded into believing that it’s cute to tattoo “benz punany” across her mid section. A strong line must be drawn!
I’ve heard an argument that it has nothing to do with Kartel’s influence, or what I call ‘Kartel syndrome’ but rather it has everything to do with choice, the choice of the individual. I’ve considered that argument and found it wanting. You see, for whatever reason a significant portion of the Jamaican population is swayed by “di teacha”. Whatever he states is taken as damn near law and in a society where our youth fear being rejected by their peers, they will fall in line with the views of “di teacha”. I need not mention that any dissent against Kartel could get you stabbed (see Gully vs Gaza saga). On second thought, I should probably watch my back once this is posted.
And then there is the issue of altering the pigmentation of his skin. Frankly, that is his prerogative and I wouldn’t want to offer an opinion on that, but I’m compelled to argue against his endorsement of “di cake soap”. It cannot be acceptable that someone who is looked up to is actively promoting bleaching and encouraging our young people to follow suit. How is this beneficial? How does this advance our society? Oh, but wait; his aim is to make money, screw societal advancement. Isn’t that so? BULLSHIT! Whether Kartel wants to own up to it, he is a role model, he needs to set an example, a GOOD example for those who look up to him.
And then there are the idiots who say “a wi culture” & “art mirrors life”. To you I say, shut the hell up & have a seat! It’s our culture until your son or daughter steals to buy a pair of shoes! It’s our culture until your daughter’s vagina becomes a taxi because she believes “when mi say gimmie pussy, yuh fi holla yes boss…”! And it certainly is our culture until the black child you brought home from the hospital turns white, or some horrible variation of white. (Non-smile).
So yes, I think Kartel needs to be more responsible about what he puts out. His audience won’t diminish, they’re like mindless drones. He could do gospel & they’d ‘dagga’ to it. Too many people have the “Kartel syndrome”, we need a cure.
“Cool like mi wash mi face wid di cake soap. Every time mi f%@k my c%@ky get suck!” – The Gaza Governor, Kartel