This article was published in Out Bristol issue 13
Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, Capleton, Sizzla, TOK, Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel are all examples of modern reggae artists who have over stepped the mark. They are overtly homophobic. They have the right to speak out against “homosexuals”, however unpalatable that it. They do not however, have the right to incite violence. There music does exactly that!
Some try and defend lyrics such as “you know we need no promo to rub out dem homo” from Bounty Killer (aka Rodney Pryce), and “I’m a dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays” by the charming Beenie Man. I say that these lyrics are indefensible.
It is important to point out that there is little “Jamaican” or “African” about homophobia. There is plenty of evidence to suggest homophobia was forced onto Jamaican culture by Christian fundamentalist in the 19th century. Indeed, the opposite can be argued to be true, that “African culture” which so many of these homophobes purport to be representing , actually saw homosexuality as quite a normal act and indeed, at times common place (This is especially true of West Africa where the majority of men were taken from in the slave trade). These practices maintained a high level of prominence within “slave communities” in Jamaica. See Suzzane LaFont’s paper “Very Straight Sex: The development of sexual mores in Jamaica“.
Essentially, we shouldn’t tolerate this sort of hate filled music. We should certainly not listen to music that incites violence and murder against someone because of their sexuality. And finally, we shouldn’t accept their defence that it is somehow OK because of their “Jamaican” cultural heritage!