Published Feb 23, 2009Music of the streets and music on the radio have often been two different things throughout Jamaica's history. However, the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission has stoked intense controversy over its decision to ban music featuring explicit sex and violence from the country's airwaves.
The country's communications regulatory body issued two directives on February 20 to complement another issued two weeks prior. The original directive banned any broadcast promoting the act of "daggering," so called after Mr. Vegas' big hit of last summer that graphically described simulated sex in dancehalls. The ban did not specifically cover dancehall music, but also "soca, hip-hop or any other music" according to the text of a statement by the Commission. Moreover, any attempts to broadcast such material using bleeped out lyrics were also prohibited.
The newest directives are concerned with violent content. To be banned is "any recording, live song or music video that promotes and/or glorifies the use of guns or other offensive weapons; any recording, live song or music video which promotes or glorifies any offence against the person such as murder, rape, and mob violence or other offences such as arson." Licensed broadcast operators are expected to "prevent the transmission of any material to which these directives apply," but no specific punishment is detailed.
Jamaica is currently under the spell of Vybz Kartel's smash hit "Rampin' Shop," which contains extremely explicit lyrics and may have contributed to the Commission's decision. The country has a long history of banning songs due to lyrical content related to sex, drugs, violence and politics, but these new directives are much more sweeping than any prior attempts to control the content of Jamaica's broadcast media.