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October 1, 2009
One island, two Jamaicas and a ‘whole heap’ of difference

Jamaican society can be divided along class, language and culture lines. It’s rich vs. poor, English vs. Patois and uptown vs. downtown.

Correspondent Lisa Biagiotti, producer Micah Fink and director of photography Gabrielle Weiss examine the public debate that erupted earlier this year when graphic Dancehall music lyrics and images were banned from Jamaica’s airwaves. The public responses reveal the legacy of two Jamaicas dating back to the country’s slave history.




Everytime someone pulls this uptown vs. downtown argument I want to vomit. People seem to forget that there is the a silent majority of Jamaicans known as the MIDDLE CLASS.

The whole problem of people like Ragashanti is that they purposely ignore the huge middle class that has comprised Jamaica since we received Universal Adult Suffrage.

The main motivation of these ideologues is to force their own vain ideologies onto the majority of Jamaicans, funded by this same majority so that they may live rich, but now with less responsibility (upper-class) or rich, and with no responsibility (lower-class).

Nothing they have to say applies to the normal Jamaican. Some of the highest electricity rates in the world, a devaluing dollar, mass unemployment, userous student loans, one of the highest homicide rates of the world, the marginalization of the Jamaican male, ridiculous taxes on imported computer parts, a drought and deforestation in the land of wood and water (some people have to be showering at other peoples houses now), police brutality and corruption (those girls that died at Armadale, six dead teenage girls, burnt to death), lack of overseas investment due to upper class corruption and lower class crime etc.

Dancehall music is just a red herring pulled out of the buttocks of Ivory Tower and lower class twits. Most Jamaicans fluidly transition between English and patois, another strawman shot down. And those massive mansions and shantytowns do not represent the majority of Jamaican living conditions (housing schemes, developments. ’60s era two, three bedroom bungalows) AT ALL.

Things are the things that affect me and a million other Jamaicans.


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Dance hall is soooo vulgar. But there are still a lot of good artist such as, Buju, Iwayne, Queen Africa, Bascom, Sizzla, Turbulence, Gyptian, and plenty more. Young and Old.


As a lover of dancehall music my comment will be obviously in support of one side of the agruement. But that is okay because the Jamaica Broadcast Commission is also obviously bias when the band dancehall music for sexually explicit language while soca, hip hop and rap music with explicit language is played openly on the Jamaican airwaves and has never been written about by the people who are so called concernedabout the “psyche of our nation”.

The government wants to be seen as “doing something” well they are not. People this is not about the problems facing our island of Jamaica and we all know there are plenty of them. This is about freedom of speech and who gets to make the rules about what is appropriate. Patios speaking Jamaica is larger than English speaking Jamaica so why do they get to tell us that patios and our music is vulgar. Let’s be perfectly clear people, they didn’t say edit the music for the airwaves. They banded it and said it doesn’t matter if it is edited it can’t be played at all.

Don’t forget these are the same people who thought Bob Marley was vulgar and did want Rastafarian to represent Jamaica and look at them know holding up Bb’s music as the music by which all music from Jamaica should measure up too.

As we Jamaicans would say they are back and belly rats. Remember is ghetto patios speaking people that went to Beijing and represent our country and came back home with gold.


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I am a Nigerian and i grew up loving reggae music. The early reggae masters had pure political lyrics but unfortunately, the very conditions that fed their political lyrics never changed. Fortunately enough, it is not only in Jamaica. Now, with these new and younger artistes, the emphasis has shifted from politics to pure entertainment which is centered on the growing conflicts between the sexes. Dancehall may be purely Jamaican, but it mirrows the larger society, the failure of governments in addressing poverty and the resultant decadence of values and morals. It is the stark reality of a functional ghetto which is inardvertantly designed as a tool of political containment.


I am an African and a lover of the reggae music. Reggae from which dancehall became a notable genre, is principally a protest music. Early reaggae masters centered their lyrics on politics and conscientization. The very conditions that fed the political contents of these lyrics didn’t improve not only in Jamaica, but the World over. And as new and younger artistes came into the scene, reggae began to lose its political contents to pure entertainment which centered solely on social conflicts between the sexes. This trend may take a Jamaican outlook, but it is a global crisis. Governments have all failed to address poverty and inequality. The result today, is that we have collectively lost our values. Even if dancehall changes its lyrics, the depth of our moral decadence is irreversible. It is just unfortunate. Jamaica, you are not alone in this crisis.


These kind of obscene lyrics should not be played on the public airwaves. I agree with the ban. They should have done this a long time ago. This is not about stifling the music of ‘ghetto people’, it’s simply a matter of maintaining a certain level of decency in society.

The fact that these songs are so popular in Jamaica, shed a very bad light on the society on a whole. Jamaica is known the world over for its music. These kind of songs are sending the wrong message about the island. It’s a disgrace on the legacy of Bob Marley who first put Jamaica on the map by wowing people all across the world with his positive music of peace and love.


Some aspects of Culture in this country
–here shown as so denoted–
…as in others
it may be also noted…
seem to be creating a Sewer
or a Nexus to where Anything
perceived as “good”…
(even with this word’s
varying definitions)
…is soon entrenched
in the filth of “badness”
or, if it may be so “termed”:
in the filth of “evil” …
not only from one aspect…

(for if there were nothing of
that which could, possibly, be
the physical senses–as “evil”
in the World…
there would, surely, be
less or no Strife)

but from many.

I, myself, have felt the Effects of this
Cause of “evil”…and will call this
for what it is…
despite Modern Society’s


of such (supposedly)
“archaic” terminology.

If you think I am amiss in my terminologies
of the Causes being presented…
study the Effects produced–even “beyond”
what the “physical senses”
may “reveal” to you–
to “see” if you desire to “see”
what lurks only to come forth
in such…



First let me just say, that I am a born Jamaican and proud of my country. I love the food, culture, people and yes, the music. No country is perfect and Jamaica is no exception. I do believe “some” dancehall music has gone too far. I believe it contributes to the violence and the despair that most young people face growing up in Jamaica. I am quite comfortable hanging out “Up Town” and then going to a Pasa Pasa all night party. But, When I hear a song or DJ shout “rape her, rape her” referring to a dancehall dance, then something is terribly wrong. I can only hope that Jamaicans take a stock and really try and get a balance. There is nothing wrong with having explicit lyrics, but when that is all you hear and listen to growing up in Jamaica I’m sure it doesn’t serve for a bright future.


As a fellow Jamaican abroad,I am also concern about these issues that going on there they’re not much jobs the youths turn to violence working for socall dons,and the politicians not doing anything to help it’s a disgrace to our beatifull country


i am a concern jamaican abroad a lot of people i know say won’t come back home because of the violence this is a different jamaica from when i was growing up i am so ashame to see this kind of behavour with the young people what is jamaica coming to it is not the same the government is not doing any thing to make it change little children are being kindnap and rape and also kill and the killers or still un the loose what a dirty same i hope jamaican can someday be a peacful place to live and enjoy may god bless jamaica brooklyn ny

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