Posted by Chris on July 23, 2012 at 12:09 pm
vybz kartel carries many different faces: skin bleacher, tattoo wearer, sex tune don, mavado feuder, conscious songwriter, skinny freaky looking man, biggest dancehall entertainer of recent times, world boss, teacher, reality tv star… he wears different cloaks for different occasions. meaning doesn’t stick to him easily, he’s always switching up his presence. since last autumn he’s been in jail, initially on ganja charges. those charges have been dropped, but he’s now facing two murder charges. he’s a magnet for messy, contested meanings and controversy. he’s also a master lyricist and storyteller. the symbolism is always deep. his crew is called gaza. notorious across the carribean for ‘obscene’ lyrics (banned on numerous radio stations) and for his use of skin bleaching cake soap, a few months before his arrest in May 2011, he issued the statement below [full version]…
“See Jamaica, Vybz Kartel has been carrying a secret for a very long time and I think it is time that I reveal it before persons try to derail the projects that I have put together by continuing to make false reports about me in their attempt to have me muzzled.two years ago, I had an epiphany whilst on stage. I saw thousands of people screaming for Kartel, jumping up and down, listening to ever word that I uttered on stage, it was like the people were eating out of the palm of my hands. At that moment, something strange came over me, as I heard the people screaming for more, I suddenly realized that my calling was to be more than a Deejay.
I realized that the people were not eating out my hands but they wanted to hear Kartel speak because finally somebody was telling their story in a profound no holds barred manner. Whether I was addressing sexuality,poverty, police brutality, injustice,the trials and tribulations of the ghetto I was finally giving ghetto people a voice – a big voice like society never heard before.
I know I am not the first that has ever attempted to do this. Because when I researched I saw that Marcus, Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle all spoke directly to the powers that be on behalf of the people but were ostracized and in some cases killed. Later, Marley, Tosh, Jacob Miller did the same thing and all died young under unique somewhat mysterious circumstances. I have seen what they have done to ancient Rastamen, People’s Telecom, the Marcus Garvey Political Party and other entities that attacked Babylon head on.
I did not want the same fate to reach me at the time, I did not want them to muzzle me also, so I took a decision that I felt I had to, I had to trick Babylon. I realized if I kept doing outrageous and outlandish stuff, they would write me off as just an attention seeking artiste and not realize that since July 26, 2009 behind closed doors I have been writing my book and setting up my GEL (Gaza Education and Literacy) program. So they put the spotlight on me, not knowing that they were actually putting the spotlight on themselves because Vybz Kartel is not about braces, bleaching and hairstyles but I am about elevating the cause of Ghetto people.
Please understand Jamaica sometimes you have to trick Babylon with confusion. If I revealed my intentions two years ago, do you think the people that control the media would report everything I do? Babylon, you have been tricked. For 500 years, the system has been using reverse psychology to trick my people,I have now used reverse psychology to trick them Let’s see societal hypocrisy for what it is. Now that my book is going to be released, now that most of my songs will have a more cultural overtone as i have already taken the decision to stop deejaying gun lyrics, now that I am going to be providing educational opportunities for young people,will you be giving me the same attention?”
for me, to ask whether he’s for real or not kind of misses the point, he’s blowing smokescreens any which way, moving undercover and channeling something deep and chaotic. i’ve been working on an experimental radio/sound art piece called ‘kartel on kartel’. culled from the digital deritus of youtube videos, road DVDs and pirated mp3s, this piece is cut with news reports of his arrest last year and heavily processed re-interpretations of his songs. much of the work was done on audiosculpt which allows you to map visual images and text onto the parameters which effect sound manipulation. this piece was made for Human Fiction Tartini presents Sonic Hologram (an hour of listening) at Apiary Studios, London in July 2012. the embed is below: