Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness is not a fan of the Ensure movement in dancehall or Skillibeng’s new hit “Whap Whap.”
The Prime Minister recently reacted to the news that dancehall artist Skeng was banned by Guyanese authorities last week due to his song “Protocol,” inciting partygoers to fire off their guns at a recent event the artist was headlining.
While speaking to party workers in St. Catherine, PM Andrew Holness said he was concerned about the perception of Jamaica by other countries. He singled out songs by deejays Skillibeng – “Whap Whap,” which is catchy but metaphoric for its reference to using guns to inflict violence or death on others as well as the viral single “Ensure” by a new artist named Brysco, which promotes oral sex with the ensure meal supplement drink that has seen much enaction out of the dancehall scene.
According to the Prime Minister, the music being created by these artists is contributing to a negative portrayal of the island, and it is an “an embarrassment” that artists are being banned.
“Whap Whap and Chop Chop and Ensure and all a dem…all of those things have their place but they can’t define us, we should not allow that to define us,” Holness said. “When another country says I don’t want your artistes in my country, it’s an embarrassment.”
For a long time, the Prime Minister has been calling for artists to be responsible for the kind of music they make and promote as he posited that there was a link between music and crime.
The Prime Minister is not far off with his supposition as many artists and producers are currently in jail for crimes. Some of them include Vybz Kartel and Sean Storm for murder, Tommy Lee Sparta for illegal gun possession, and even dancehall producer Shab Don who is also facing murder charges, while several other artistes are also before the court for similar offenses.
Artists and their fans have, however, defended the music and lyrics, noting that art imitates life. However, it is undeniable that many lyrics influence the younger generation, especially those who publicly declare their ambition to become a scammer because they can easily earn money.
The Prime Minister says he is “very concerned” about the influence of music on schools.
“We see it trickling down into the fights in the schools,” PM Andrew Holness said. “We are concerned, very, very concerned, and worried about it. What has happened to us as Jamaicans is that we are being defined by some very limited things. Jamaica has allowed itself to become defined by a limited way of thinking.”
Despite criticism from the Prime Minister and some veterans in dancehall, fans continues to stream songs like “Whap Whap,” “Protocol,” and “Gvnman Shift.”
“Whap Whap” currently has a combined 15 million views on YouTube and more than a dozen remixes including the recently released video with Fivio Foreign and French Montana. Skeng and Tommy Lee Sparta’s “Protocol” has surpassed 29 million views on YouTube in seven months. Meanwhile, Skeng’s breakout hit “Gvnman Shift” was the most popular dancehall song in Jamaican last year and this year it’s popularity has not wane.