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Friday, April 11, 2008

Red Stripe Attempts to Clean up Dancehall

Recently Red Stripe announced that it has made a decision to withdraw its sponsorship of live music events which it describes as facilitators of "violent and anti-social" lyrics. This move sees Red Strip ceasing to sponsor two of the biggest annual shows in Jamaica, Reggae Sumfest and Sting. In a statement to The Star, the Red Stripe spokesperson said, "... a very negative trend of glorifying violence has crept into some of the music, causing much consternation among well thinking Jamaicans and others at home and abroad. This has far-reaching and damaging implications for the industry and for the country as a whole," the release stated... While our most recent efforts through the Coalition of Corporate Sponsors have met with some measure of success, some performers continue to propagate, through their live performances, violent and anti-social lyrics..."

I applaud Red Stripe for this bold move in an attempt to stem the violence and violent behavior being projected by some of these Dancehall entertainers by means of their songs. I'm not sure if they are being pressured by the government or their international partners, but whatever the driving force is behind this decision, it still is a very good decision in my eyes. I am not anti-Dancehall, in fact I do love Dancehall music! Which Jamaican in his twenties wouldn't? And yes this move by Red Stripe is a blow for Dancehall music as the sponsorship dollars Red Stripe pump into these world renowned events, Reggae Sumfest and Sting, is a much needed boost as people from all over attend these events. But some of the lyrics a lot of these Dancehall artistes radiate through their music and performances do glorify violence and guns, which in turn does affect our society negatively. The crime rate here in Jamaica keeps souring to new limits every year and instead of sending out positive messages, denouncing this trend, these artistes continue to support this trend with the songs they continue to release.

Some may argue, especially some of the artistes, that they are singing about reality and what they see around them in the "garrisons' and "ghettos" and just reflecting what is going on in society. Some of these artistes may also argue that they are not role models and they don't want to be role models and that parents should be the ones to instill good values in their children. All of that is just a load of bull sh..! and a lame way of excusing themselves. Yes, our society is violent, and life in these lower income communities are harsh and marred by violence, gangs and dons. But that doesn't mean you have to glorify violent behaviours, put the gun on a pedestal and encourage "bad man" behaviour. There are many other issues that a Dancehall artiste can use his powerful music to sing about and yet still keep it real! Also, whether an DJ, likes it or not he is a role model. Many youths, teen and adults, look up to these artistes and emulate them, their style of dressing, their slangs, their speech and even the content of their lyrics. Not everyone in Jamaica has the luxury of great parents that will set good values and steer them in the right way or have the level of reasoning to only view these songs only as entertainment and not a way of life. As, such Dancehall artistes have a social responsibility to honour. The fame, the money, the rides, the bling all come with a price, social responsibility. And since these artistes accepted all the goodies, they should also accept the responsibility that comes with it.

Red Stripe has made a step, now the question is will others jump aboard this campaign to cleanup one of Jamaica's best export and local stress relief, Dancehall music? I would love to see other sponsors in corporate Jamaica as well as the media, take a similar step to curb this ugly trend that our great Dancheall music has developed. By doing this they will be sending a message to these artistes and to their producers who are equally responsible, and cleanup our great, powerful, culture defining Dancedall music. That is my two cents on the matter, what do you think?

10 commented:

I found this pull out interesting as well.

I'm kind of wondering what's going to happen to SumFest. I know several hoteliers, restaurant owners and others in the tourism sector up here in Mobay are probably worried.

For purely selfish reasons, I personally wouldn't mind SumFest being cancelled. Less traffic & congestion, less ridiculously high people walking around doing all sorts of rubbish.

mrsyfa has an interesting view of the issue here...

im interested to know what ur thoughts are on her views

Love the new look Stunner.

While I applaud the step by Redstripe I'm not sure I am willing to take them seriously cause I can't overlook the hypocrisy of a achoholic beverage company speaking out about what's right and wrong, and the diminishing moral standards as they teach us to "Live Red" cause its cool....high moral ground is a devil to maintain when you look at the dollars and cents that will be lost...lets see how long it lasts.

First, I'm wondering if this is really Red Stripe's decision or if it came from pressure from their parent company, Diageo? Even if it was Diageo's decision, I agree that it's a good move as it's hard to deny that some dance hall music does glorify violence, guns, anti-women sentiments, etc. etc..

However, we have to ask ourselves why did this happen now? Personally, I believe that companies respond to profits and perhaps all the international pressure that dance hall music was coming under made Diageo/Red Stripe nervous about their bottom line?

This points to the power of consumers/the market to achieve exerting pressure on companies, governments to do the right thing, no?

I'm gonna go all out and be seen as an unintelligent person here when i say "dem waa stop dancehall!!"

This is the shyte Bob Marley was talking about, see it now come to past...

How can you stop sponsoring something that has always been lewd? You knew what it was about before you signed the contract. Just like some relationships, when one partner gets what they want, they find an excuse to pull out. Double standards!

I'll bet it's more Bad Man than Dancehall that causes PR problems for Red Stripe.

Well, maybe red stripe has less than honest motives but I can't really cry hypocrisy.
Has any of us never changed our mind?
Has dancehall gotten more intense, less intense, or stayed the same?

And I agree--the picture painted by this music is very lopsided--much like the picture painted by hip hop. I appreciate the responsibility artists have to represent what they see--but they have to show us everything they see. Not just the violent sensational things but also the thoughtful, introspective, or beautiful things.

I wholeheartedly agree with red Stripe's decision. My only regret is that they didn't do it earlier.