The Prime Minister demanded the artists featured in a viral music video promoting gun violence to apologise, threatening Tuesday to pull Government support if they refuse.
But her calls for the video to be removed from social media channels had not been heeded by 8.30 Tuesday night, as it notched upwards of 67,300 views and viewership rose steadily.
By late Tuesday two of the nine performers in the Trojam riddim mix video had expressed regret for their actions.
Peter Ram and Mole both issued apologies via their social media pages.
In a press statement issued this afternoon, a visibly upset Prime Minister Mottley said she was horrified and could not remain silent on the issue.
While insisting there would be a “zero-tolerance approach” to gun violence, the Prime Minister warned that not only would Government be pulling its support for any of the featured artists who opted not to apologize, but she would also advise any organization with which she has a relationship not to lend support.
Dancehall and soca star Lil Rick opens the 16-minute video called the Trojan Riddim Barbados Dancehall Mix which also features Ram, Mole, SK, Brutal Cranstar, Leadpipe of Sometimes fame and Chef Din.
While the video contains violent and obscene language, images of guns, hearses and the word murder, it is the unmistakable declaration of death on informants and the glorification of guns and gun violence in a supposed war that has gripped the attention of viewers.
The music video which premiered in early April has gained additional attention amid a mounting homicide death toll that features gang warfare over turf or control of the illegal drug and weapons trade, predatory attacks by armed individuals or groups and reprisals.
Prime Minister Mottley declared: “I want to say that there has to be a zero-tolerance approach to gun violence in this country and there are those who sometimes have to be awoken to the reality that you cannot, cannot, cannot, play light with issues such as this. I support entirely the Minister of Home Affairs in his comments and any government with which I am associated with cannot and will not be supporting anybody who fails to apologize to the people of this country for this behaviour,” Mottley said.
“I’m not asking you to apologize to me nor to the Government but you need to apologize to the people of Barbados because there are too many victims of gun crime in this country, as recent as today, and this country cannot in any way have any level of tolerance for anyone who promotes gun violence in any form.
“The bottom line is that we also have to recognize that persons who have put this video up have a responsibility to take it down and in addition therefore to the apology I expect you to take it down and I say it again, that the Government cannot support anyone who believes that it is ok to compartmentalize or support them in one place and take it away in another place with respect to the use of gun violence.
“I, therefore, ask those persons who are involved to please apply your heart to common sense and to recognize that at this point in time this is not the message that we need to be sending to any Barbadian or any person in this country or any part of the world for that matter. And I ask you, therefore, please to apologize to the people of this nation and also equally to ensure that that video is taken down and any association I have with any other entity outside of Government I will also insist that there can be no kind of meaningful relationship unless there is a willingness to meet the country where it is and that is zero tolerance on gun violence.”
The prime minister’s statement followed a swift condemnation late Monday by Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams.
Abrahams said he was prepared to recommend to ministers that Government send the strongest possible message to artists and people that the song would not be tolerated.
“I accept there is artistic expression but it must not be irresponsible, it is irresponsible to the highest order,” Abrahams told Barbados TODAY.
Anglican Bishop of Barbados Right Reverend Michael Maxwell was also of the view that Barbadians deserved an apology. He contended that the video promoted violence and immorality.
“I personally believe that our nation deserves an apology from these artistes for producing and releasing such a distasteful, vulgar and uncivil video with such a high level of obscene language that sends a negative and damaging message viral as it incites immorality, violence, the seeking of revenge and taking the lives of those referred to as informants or snitches,” Bishop Maxwell said.
“What struck me the most is that one of the artistes in earlier years penned a song with the hook line ‘me nah know how the youths get so’ and the answer is there once again. They have gotten so because of the negative influences they receive from many of us who as adults should know much better.”
In a brief video posted on his social media channels, Peter Ram said the video had been recorded over a year ago.
Ram, whose real name is Peter Wiggins said: ”I come here to express sincere and my humblest apology to all of my followers, fans and sponsors along with the general public for the lyrical content that was freestyled on a riddim a year and a half ago. It was never my intention to offend anyone, so as one of Barbados’ top entertainers, I deeply apologise to all of my fans and friends and all of the little kids that look up to me.”
Mole – real name Reco Cumberbatch – also offered a similarly brief apology: “Over the past few hours, there has been considerable discussion regarding the Trojan riddim on which I am featured as an artist. I wish to state for the avoidance of doubt, that there was never any intention of this song being offensive or to incite any form of social unrest. However, I respect the opposing perspective and offer to the public an apology of regret.
“As we move forward, I wish to renew my commitment to producing enjoyable and positive music for the pleasure of loyal fans.”
As the video opens, Lil Rick sings: “Shoot straight like Messi from Argentina, with a big f****** gun singing sweet like Selena. Gunshot clap out and skin you out like Sabrina ‘cause you like to inform and run chat pon social media. Ya idiot, nobody ain’t ‘fraid for you, me neither. We shot you up to pieces, lef’ your body ‘pon de freezer like meat so when them violate, just know wha’ we pulling up with…”
The chorus goes on to list popular gangland weapons, even “the old rusty rife with the knife ‘pon the tip”, as he promises “gunshot like a storm” in tit-for-tat retribution for past slayings. ([email protected])