After decades of “Brap brap brap!” heard throughout the lyrics of some of our favorite Jamaican songs, the country’s broadcasting regulator has made the decision to ban all music and television that seemingly glorifies the use of weapons, drugs, and violence, as well as scamming and other criminal activity.
According to the government, the ban is intended to cut down on any material that “could give the wrong impression that criminality is an accepted feature of Jamaican culture and society.”
While many are applauding the bold move, many Jamaican artists are not down with the movement.
“Art imitates life, and the music is coming from what is happening in Jamaica for real,” Jamaican Grammy award-winning singer and producer told NBC News. “But because it doesn’t fit the moral mold of what they would like it to look like, they try to hamper it.”
For years, the country has tried to lower crime rates and gun violence, and following a report released by research center Insight Crime, stating that the nation had the highest murder rate in Latin America and the Caribbean, this ban is meant to counteract the assumed influence that such media has on the population, primarily it’s younger citizens.
The Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica stated in a release this type of music and its accompanying visuals “normalize criminality among vulnerable and impressionable youth.”
However, much of the backlash around the ban has to do with the commission taking lyrical restrictions a step further by flagging words like “jungle justice,” “bank/foreign account,” “food,” “wallet,” “purse,” “burner phone” and “client.” It further seeks to ban content glorifying wealth or lavish lifestyles all together.
McGregor, better known by his artist name Di Genius, sees it as a ban on free speech, and that the Jamaican government would be better off focusing its attention on issues that lead to conditions of poverty and economic crisis.
And while similar bans have been implemented in Jamaica since 2009, (McGregor says that he’s had songs stripped off of the airways due to sexual lyrics), the artist says they never seem to last, additionally stating that it’s just a way for the government to scapegoat artists while failing to address the roots of other issues.
“The music that comes from that, people are not going to be creating happy, feel good ‘one love, one heart’ music in those circumstances,” McGregor said. “You can’t force the creatives to paint a picture that’s not really in front of us.”