The sexuality issue in the lyrics of Jamaican Dancehall.
Jamaica’s image around the sphere of homosexuality is always portrayed in a negative light. Jamaica has had a long standing culture that is very much opposed to homosexuality. Jamaica’s attitude towards homosexuality and gender boundaries has been continuously supported through the lyrics and visual images of dancehall. Brutal assaults and attacks are encouraged by this music. Such is the case of Boom Bye Bye In a Batty Boi Head, where, gunshots are regularly heard throughout the song, which instigates an upheaval and calls for a propagation towards violence. Artists such as Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, T.O.K. and Vybez Kartel do not hide their disdain for homosexuals an example of this is where Beenie Man sings “well I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, we come to execute all of the gays” (Beenie Man: Damn) or Elephant Man who sings “ Log on, and step pon chi chi man. Log on from yu know seh yu nuh ickie man. Log on and step pon chi chi man. Dance wi a dance and a bun out a freaky man” (Elephant man: Log on, 2005). Along with this song, was a dance depicting the ‘stepping’ on homosexual individuals. Often times lyrics are in patois and slang terminology is utilized so that non-Jamaicans or non-Caribbean individuals may not understand the lyrics. Terms such as chichiman, batty bwoy and fasse man are all derogative terms used to depict a homosexual man.
I see this insurgence of homophobia as being tied to the misogynistic circumstances within this music. The portrayal of the macho man dominating many women while being a gangster is the message that is send and this particular sect of reggae music serves as a medium of this illusion.
I would like to end this brief theoretical aspect of Jamaican dancehall with an example of this situation, with T.O.K’s chichiman, released in the late part of 1999. The intro is a sort of call to uniformity and an introduction to what the group stands for
My Crew (My Crew) my dogs (my dogs)
Set rules (Set rules) set laws (set laws)
We represent for di lords of yards
A gal alone a feel up my balls
Here we get an idea of the codes by which this particular groups stands for. It also presents the regard to which they hold themselves and women. Men are seen as ‘dogs’ who represent the ‘Lords’ and so, they set the ‘laws’. And women are regarded as sexual objects. These stereotypes are endlessly portrayed in the dances and the lyrics of this music. These aspects bleed into everyday life so that these gender roles are maintained within the society. The song continues to denigrate homosexuals and the chorus translates as:
From dem a par inna chi chi man car
Blaze di fire mek we bun dem (Bun dem)
From dem a drink inna chi chi man bar
Blaze di fire mek we dun dem!!!! (Dun dem)
Those who get together in a gay man’s car
blaze the fire, let us burn them
those who get together in a gay bar
blaze the fire, let us kill them.
It is interesting to add that this specific song was adopted by the opposition Jamaican Labour Party as its campaign song. So that, political parties and government instances support the radical lyrics.
So mi go so, do yuh see weh I see???
Niggas when your doin that
Nuff a dem a freak dem a carry all dem dutty act
Thug nigga wanna bees nuff a dem a lick it back
It dem bring it to we, hold on nuff a cop a shot
Cop a shot rise up every calico go rat tat tat
Rat tat tat every chi chi man dem haffi get flat
Get flat, mi and my niggas ago mek a pack
Chi chi man fi dead and dat’s a fact
References to Calicos and killing are inspiring to some, this is apparent by the quotidian use of this language. I would go so far as to say that these sentiments have aided in the popularization of this dancehall.