The leading group of entertainers Tuesday night has strongly criticised authorities, radio stations and influential figures of society, accusing them of “hypocrisy” amid outrage at the lyrics of a local copycat gangster dancehall song featuring several prominent and minor artistes.
But while chiding those who seek to blame artistes solely for the proliferation of negative, lude or violent music, Sean Apache Carter, the head of the Barbados Association of Creatives and Artistes distanced the association from lyrics like the ones portrayed in the Trojan Riddim dancehall video.
Carter described the freestyle medley as merely another episode in a fast-growing movement within underground Barbadian dancehall music that glorifies derogatory, unwholesome and violent music.
He noted that while the music is now gaining the attention of authorities and talk show programmes like VOB’s Brass Tacks, it has been getting significant airplay on some of the country’s most popular FM music stations.
Carter told Barbados TODAY: “There is a subculture that is emerging and it is not only unique to Barbados, but it is something that we are seeing even more prevalent in Trinidad. So there is this cross-cultural pollination between Barbados and Trinidad and our Bajan artistes are now popular in the underground movement in Trinidad as well.
“It is a deep systemic problem that will need the powers that be, the entertainers, people like Minister [of Home Affairs, Wilfred] Abrahams, [Culture] Minister [John] King and all of the parties. We need to come together and realise that this is not a surface thing. This thing is deep and we need to put our heads together and come up with a solution as to how we will counteract this, or else we will not recognise Barbados in five years.”
The BACA president argued that the problem of the emerging music, which happens to be concurrent with a three-year spike in violent crime and gun murders is much deeper than the artistes themselves.
“I think it is hypocritical to point a finger at local artistes alone. You need to have the powers that be, stakeholders and influential people in society coming together,” Carter declared.
“We hear edited versions of not only the local songs, but many of the Jamaican songs and international songs, whether it is hip hop or dancehall that actually promotes violence and degrades women and downgrades women. We are hearing that on the most popular FM radios.
“So if you are going to point fingers at the artistes on the Trojan Riddim, you have to point a finger at the programme managers as well, you have to point your fingers at the broadcast authorities and at the deejays that are playing the music on the airwaves as well.
“There is a subculture, but the subculture is infiltrating mainstream and you at least have to address it at the mainstream level and stamp it out and this is beyond the artistes now. Persons that know better should do better. There is a high level of hypocrisy as it relates to it.”
Carter said the unfolding saga that prompted statements from Prime Minister Mia Mottley, government ministers and some of the artists involved, triggered a huge conversation within BACA.
He noted that well before the issue came into the public domain, the organisation had been working on initiatives to counteract negative lyrics.
One such programme, the Strategy Riddim, will feature positive messages from over a dozen Barbadian Reggae artistes along with an upcoming ‘Bajan concert series’, said the BACA leader.
Carter added that while BACA fully supports artistic expression, a line needs to be drawn when such expression could insight violence.
He noted that while a few artistes may be expressing their everyday realities in the music, others are merely doing it for “likes” and “popularity”, much to the detriment of young minds.
“That is something that is real and practical. It is not a myth. Music can unite and music can divide people. Music can influence you to do things. At the end of the day you make your own choices, but music can influence the choices that people make,” Carter concluded.