Jamaica: Arrest of reggae musician sparks censorship debate

12 April 2012


The arrest of dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, who is charged with murder, has sparked a debate over whether restrictions should be placed on of music with violent content.

Vybz Kartel (real name: Adidja Palmer), arguably Jamaica’s most popular dancehall artist, was arrested on 29 September 2011 and charged with murder, conspiracy to murder as well as illegal possession of a firearm and a small quantity of marijuana in his homeland Jamaica.

His arrest has caused a renewed, intensive debate in social networks, blogs and news media over whether restrictions should be placed on the public broadcast of music that include a heavy violent or sexual content.

In Antigua, veteran music promoter Roger Perry, now retired, was quoted by Antigua Observer as saying that he believes “it is high time” restrictions are placed on publicly broadcast music:

“Some of those songs from Vybz Kartel are being played in Antigua on all the radio stations, yet a lot of them cannot be played in Jamaica but we bring them to Antigua and play them on the radio and that is wrong. We have to find censorship for these things,” said Roger Perry.

Court hearing on 10 November
On 12 October Vybz Kartel was remanded in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court until 10 November 2011.

The dancehall superstar has been arrested several times by Jamaican authorities. In July 2010 he was detained for two weeks. However, this is the first time he has been charged with a murder crime.


Vybz Kartel

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Antigua Observer, by Rory Butler – 5 October 2011:

‘Dancehall artist’s arrest leads to debate on restricting music’

SKN Vibes – 4 October 2011:

‘Gaza Boss Vybz Kartel charged with murder’

Billboard Magazine – 4 October 2011:

‘Vybz Kartel, Jamaican Dancehall Star, Charged with Murder’

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