Cultural analyst and senior lecturer at the Institute of Caribbean Studies & The Reggae Studies Unit at UWI, Mona, Dr Donna Hope, has warned music industry players to be aware of negative affiliations and the threat they pose to the progress of Jamaican music.
According to Hope, who spoke to The STAR at the 4th International Reggae Conference hosted at the University of The West Indies, the music industry of itself is innocent, however, persons who choose to use the industry to mask their involvement in illegal activities have painted a dark image for Jamaican musicians.
“Illegality and criminal acts have nothing to do with the music, it has a lot to do with the people. But persons have a hard time separating them. It is the same thing with Donna Hope, anything I do is going to be about UWI and not just me. Some entities and some groups are so larger than life that anything you do through them, they will be tied to it. One of the challenges with the music industry is that it is an informal sector and anybody can get into it and say they are a part of it. It’s not like you have a membership card and you have to sign up,” she said.
Hope says the industry is plagued with impersonators who have hidden objectives.
“We have people claiming to be producers, artistes and promoters. They say they are a part of dancehall and reggae, but they are involved in illegal activities and that is unfortunate because it continues to colour especially dancehall as and haven for criminals and suggests that dancehall artistes and our producers are synonymous with the criminal element. It’s a bad thing but it’s not something that we have been able to escape because there is no way to scan these people,” she said.
She also believes the constant issues with the law, especially as it relates to the US, will worsen the capacity for music industry players to receive work permits and visas. She also said persons from other professions are placed under less scrutiny when they visit the embassy.
“Dancehall artistes have not been doing well with the visa issue and they are going to be more scrutinised. The scamming discussion is directly linked to USA because a lot of their citizens have lost a lot of wealth and their pensions and they are not happy about it. People are going to be more heavily scrutinised and each time this happens it just damage the music industry some more,” she continued.
“I usually get annoyed about this because I don’t think people see themselves as a part of an industry. They see themselves as, oh I am over here doing my thing, I make big money, I drive a big vehicle and I don’t care bout anybody else. They don’t see themselves as a part of an industry, even though everybody on the outside sees it that way,” she said.
Hope also warned that illegal practices will not only affect the music industry, but will spread to regular Jamaicans when they have to exchange with other countries.
“We need to pull together and a few elders in the dancehall need to guide and stand up and say things. I would also advise people in the industry to realise that it’s not upon your backs alone because others are left to come. It is also that impacts on Jamaicans broadly speaking. So when you are going to do your illegal something remember that the repercussions does not affect you alone and stop colouring dancehall in a negative way because dancehall does not make you do crime. They are using it as a shield to do their activities, and then dancehall gets a big hit,” she said.