What a real nightmare, on Friday the 13th the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica banned all songs from the public media (so that means videos and as well as sound recordings) that reference Daggerin'/Daggering (JA slang for sex) or that show the popular dance. Songs with sexually explicit and violent lyrics are considered a violation of a new set of standards that broadcasters now have to follow in order to keep their licensing.
The Commission also extended the ban to include the "bleeping'' and "beeping'' editing used to "clean" up songs that are considered in appropriate or unsuitable for public consumption. I would imagine that means that artist would not have to record clean versions in order to get played on the radio/TV. So more artist would have to follow Mr. Vegas' lead and have "Hot Wuk" on the radio and "Hot Fuck" on the album.
Supposedly this whole controversy was started over the wide spread popularly of Spice and Vybz Kartel's "Rampin Shop."
Dancehall artists are rightfully pointing out that these measures unfairly target the genre which has been emeshed in debates about "slackness" since the 1990s.
Mr Vegas issued a statement that said "I think the Broadcasting Commission has nothing better to do with their time. More than 50 per cent of the songs which are played on radio have some form of editing. So what is radio gonna sound like? Maybe we should just get one national station and call it Love 102."
He continued: "What they are doing is killing the creativity. It's no different when a R&B song says 'I'll make love to you like you want me to', than when a Jamaican says 'bend ova'; it's just the way we speak...talking about sex doesn't mean it has to be lewd and so many of our artistes have proven that. And simply because something is edited doesn't mean a curse word was there. Sometimes as artistes we realise the word may be too coarse for radio, but fit for the dance, so the word is edited." (Mr. Vegas quotes courtesy of The Jamaica Star)
Ian Boyne from the Jamaica Gleaner News had this to say in response to accusations of class-based bias and censorship:
What might really shock many people, particularly from the middle class, is that Rampin' Shop is mild - yes, mild - compared to other songs in the dancehall. And, if you ever hear what the sound system selectors say over the mike, that is what would give Esther Tyson a heart attack! Thank God, Sister Esther knows nothing of those songs.
I hear Kartel and his lawyer talking nonsense about free speech being jeopardised. But what about the freedom of decent ghetto people who want the right to rear their children without those children being assaulted by the filth and nastiness coming from the sound systems in their communities? What about their rights?
Uncritical dancehall defenders talk about parents' protecting their own children from the filth dancehall artistes spew out, but how can they do so when they are prisoners of their poverty in the ghetto, and can't afford to migrate to middle-class communities where they can escape the tyranny of all-day, all-night nasty music?
Decent people can't entertain friends in their homes or even have Bible study in peace because of others exercising their freedom to play filth and garbage.
If these people confined their nastiness and filth to Sting and Sumfest, that's OK with me. We know what dancehall night at Sumfest is about and what Sting is. If people want to have their X-rated dancehall events where they are not disturbing decent people in their homes, I am not for censorship.
The question of the division between private and public is at the fore of these debates. Basically the daggerin' critics are saying that people can do whatever they want in their homes but that once it leaves that space of sanctioned domesticity and intimacy then sexual desires and practices are then subject to different standards of conduct and even government intervention.
The slackness debates are very similar to debates about hip hop and reggaeton in terms of blaming all of societies problems on a dearth of sexually explicit lyrics and images. To me the daggerin' dance looks very similar to perreo, so I'm not surprised that both dances have received such scrutiny and become strawmen for concerns over female virtue and the nuclear family.
As far as I'm concerned the ban is absurd, and I think all you'll hear on the radio is like one pop song and two commercials if the Commission is as stringent as it says it will be. The ban is untenable.
In "Rampin' Shop" Spice lyrically gives it like she gets it in terms of talking about punishing Vybz sexually so how does that complicate the claims that Dancehall is dangerous because its all male aggression towards seemingly passive women. The song complicates the idea that egalitarian sexual practices is always a desirable form of sexual play which is interesting. Unfortunately, the sexuality and sexual practices detailed in "Rampin' Shop" are used to prop up heterosexist and homophobic sexual norms -- "man to man, girl to girl thats wrong."
Ironically, Vybz has a line of condoms called Daggering in an effort to promote safe (rough) sex.
The tag line says on the condom says: "Playsafe Ramp Rufff till game ova."
Complicated. Any thoughts.