Reggae Icons, Jamaican Culture, and Homophobia

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Reggae Icons, Jamaican Culture, and Homophobia

"The world is in trouble/Anytime Buju Banton come/ Batty boy get up and run/ ah gunshot in ah head man/Tell dem crew… it’s like/ Boom bye bye, in a batty boy head, rude boy nah promote no nasty man, them hafi dead." The average member of the reggae dancehall culture knows the message that this song is sending to its listeners. However, without a translation these lyrics do not mean a thing to someone who is not familiar with this culture and the vocabulary of dancehall artists. Translated the lyrics read: "The world is in trouble/When Buju Banton arrives/Faggots have to run/Or get a bullet in the head /Bang-bang, in a faggot’s head/Homeboys don’t condone nasty men/They must die."

These lyrics from the song "Boom Bye Bye" by Buju Banton personify the manner in which the reggae dancehall culture of Jamaica views homosexuals. These lyrics will always be part of dancehall history because of the controversy they started amongst the homosexual North American community, who were offended by Buju Banton’s lyrics. The controversy brought about the question of whether this was a problem due to cultural differences or a hate crime against a group that is considered a minority, homosexuals. This song brings forth issues and different beliefs that are present in the Jamaican culture that contradicts those of the North American culture.

The lyrics of dancehall reggae music in Jamaica seem to encourage the taunting and violence towards homosexuals. Of course it is normal for most reggae songs to deal with the social concerns and religious beliefs of Jamaicans because it is a big representation of the Jamaican culture. Homosexuals are looked down upon as outcasts because of their sexuality. Homop...

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...ut his culture. I believe anyone, not only musicians, but any artist should be able to express themselves and their beliefs through their work. If it is the norm in your society to believe something is wrong then how can you expect a prominent artist to express himself in a manner that goes against the norm of his society. Personally I believe that he is signing about his culture and no one, no matter what the situation, should be criticized for expressing his or her beliefs.

In conclusion the deeply rooted homophobia that is mistakably reflected in Banton’s lyrics and that, more importantly, pervades the Jamaican society, is a very controversial issue. Not only is there the question of whether Banton is correct because he is singing about his culture but despite the fact that he is expressing his beliefs does he have any right to threaten the lives of human beings.
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