Vybz Kartel’s impact on Jamaican youth and dancehall

Yesterday marked one year since the controversial deejay was handed a life sentence for the August 2011 murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. He is to serve 35 years in prison before being eligible for parole.

Kartel’s co-accused, Shawn ‘Shawn Storm’ Campbell and Kahira Jones, are to serve 25 years before they are eligible for parole, while Andre St John will do 30 years before qualifying for eligibility. The entertainer’s defence attorney has, however, filed an appeal.

Despite his incarceration, Kartel’s music continues to be in demand.

Viking (Vybz is King), his recently released 11-track set, debuted at number three on Billboard’s Reggae Album chart last week.

Kartel’s fifth studio album, it includes previously unreleased songs like Dancehall, Gon Get Better, Enchanting, Time, Volcano, Facebook People and Unstoppable.

His popularity among hardcore dancehall fans and the youth is unbridled.

In January, Kartel (given name Adidja Palmer) was nominated for five Youth View Awards (YVAs), of which he won four.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, YVA organiser Karen Clarke said the nominations represent data collected from 14- to 24-year-olds islandwide.

“The YVAs are an unbiased voice of the youth of Jamaica,” she told the Observer at the time.

Kartel’s decade-long run saw flashes of brilliance in songs like Clarks, a salute to the popular British shoe. The company used the song as part of its ad campaign.

Not-fit-for-airplay songs like Ramping Shop and his bleached skin only fueled his notoriety.

He also had a number of run-ins with the law that resulted in arrests. His dispute with fellow deejay Mavado triggered the national Gaza/Gully feud eight years ago.

Today, we look at Kartel and associates, one year after a verdict that had Jamaicans on the edge of their seats.

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