Veteran dancehall artiste Cham is hitting back at Prime Minister Andrew Holness for rebuking aspects of Jamaican music which the nation’s leader said is contributing to high levels of violence in the country.
In a near three-minute long social media video released over the weekend, Cham questioned whether Holness had evidence to prove the link between music and crime, and urged the prime minister to do his job as leader and desist from blaming entertainers for the country’s problem with violence.
“Mr Prime Minister did your conclusion arrive from study (studies) done or did it arrive from guilt from mismanagement over the years?” Cham questioned.
Holness drew stinging criticisms from several dancehall acts after he sought to make a link between music and crime in Jamaica while speaking in Parliament last Tuesday.
“In our music and our culture, in as much as you are free to reflect what is happening in the society, you also have a duty to place it in context. Dat yuh tek up the AK-47 and tun it inna a man head … That is not right,” insisted Holness.
“… and though you have the protection of the constitution to sing about it, you also have a duty to the children who are listening to you,” he continued.
But Cham, whose real name is Damian Beckett, disagreed with the position of the nation’s leader.
“Becoming an artiste was solely to provide entertainment to the world through my music. Never would I imagine that I would take on the responsibilities of a country’s Government body or parenthood for an entire nation,” lamented Cham.
The artiste known for his 2006 smash hit, ‘Ghetto Story’, outlined that he observed where “poverty, poor leadership, illiteracy, and lack of opportunities for the Jamaican youths are the top four contributors for the country’s high crime rate, not the music.”
Additionally, Cham argued whether the crime rate in the island would be blamed on other audio or video platforms, including Netflix, where he claimed violence was mimicked.
“Are we going to slam Netflix who is one of the world’s top streaming platforms for violent content in the same breath? Or are we going to remove data from everyone’s smartphones and their homes?
“Therefore, it begs to ask the question, is audio communication more effective than video communication? If yes, it is with great honour that I will lobby for myself and my fellow artistes to take over the Government of Jamaica so we can finally through our music bring some order and restoration to the country,” Cham reasoned.
Further, the dancehall veteran posited that people who are already prone to violence and have violent behaviours will always be triggered by “anything that mimics their thoughts”.
“… and (as) such, it is easy to conclude that visual or audio is what caused the person to become violent,” Cham claimed.
He added: “Not because the conclusion is an easy way out that means we should use it to mask the real issue at hand, which is poverty, poor leadership from both government and parenting, illiteracy and lack of communication and opportunities for the youths.”
In concluding, Cham reiterated the point that artistes were merely “a mirror of society”.
“Whatever society reflects we tend to reflect it back with music, melodies and words. If you take away the art from the artist, then you take away the artistry and then you would have no artist.
“So please, listen to what the people of the country is really saying and do the right thing,” he urged the prime minister.