No support for entertainers who glorify guns, gunmen, Molly — top cop Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

While acknowledging that some entertainers are working to create a balance, Jamaica’s top cop declared that there is no doubt that the lyrics of artistes are impactful, especially when it comes to the country’s youth.

Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, who is currently tackling a 3.8 per cent increase in major crimes, pointed to the continued mention of guns and the drug Molly in the lyrics of some dancehall artistes.

He was responding to a question rehashing the age-old debate about the influence of dancehall music and if attempts have been made by the Jamaica Constabulary Force to engage recording artistes, at the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s monthly press conference on Tuesday.

“There is no question that their lyrics have an impact. We see it with Molly, we see it with guns; we see it with the sort of things that young people start to see as good,” said Anderson.

“… And if those things are destructive to them and destructive to the country, then, obviously, as a police force, we cannot be in agreement with that, but we will continue the conversation,” he indicated.

The debate on whether dancehall music influences social and criminal behaviour has risen to the fore over the last two years, particularly since the rise of “choppa” or scamming lyrics.

Molly, a drug which controls things like mood and agression, has also been romanticised by the genre.

In September, a Rapid Situational Assessment on Drug Use in secondary schools conducted in May found that Molly is emerging as one of the most popular drugs being used by teenagers locally.

Though the commissioner stressed that the police force cannot support entertainers who use their lyrics to glorify guns and gunmen, he said the force is open to the idea of continued dialogue with stakeholders in the music industry.

“As a matter of fact, we were on a path just before COVID, dealing with some of these things, and then it became a little bit difficult to do that as we were diverted into other things,” he shared.

“… But the value of music, the message of music, the value of our artistes in supporting what we (the police) do, we feel is significant, and musicians and persons in entertainment and even persons in media have influence.

“They influence thought, they influence the way people approach things,” Anderson added.

As responsible people, he said, everyone “must look at the values they are putting forward”.

According to Anderson, “There is the entertainment value of some things, but there are also questions about whether what you raise up as things to be exalted” or things to be followed, are the correct examples that individuals should are setting.

“Now, we know that… we (the police) see, as part of our responsibility, working with… any group of persons willing to make that change.

“But…, at the same time, if you are supporting gunmen in your lyrics to kill people, then, obviously, our messaging has cross-purposes,” he emphasised.

“So, certainly, there are a number of artistes within the dancehall genre that are seized with this and are working to balance this desire for a particular type of entertainment and their messaging to young people, to keep them out of a particular lifestyle,” the commissioner indicated.

In fact, Anderson pointed out that some artistes who may not always utilise conscious lyrics in their music can become part of the positive campaign to influence youths.

“I think that is the long version, but the short version is, ‘Yes, we (the police) engage them (dancehall artistes), and we have seen some very conscious lyrics come out of dancehall artistes, and even other ones who…, you would say, are on the borderline of where they go or go back and forth, [who] can still add a voice to young people, to do otherwise than go down a path that has been damaging to our country and destructive to them,” he explained.

With the coronavirus pandemic now easing, the senior law enforcer is hoping to resume the pre-pandemic discussions the JCF had with members of the island’s music fraternity.

“Going forward, as well, we expect to do more of the engagement we started, and see if we can bring about the change,” stated Anderson.