Vendetta-6ix feud not alarming, yet - But warnings about clash turning more than lyrical

September 10, 2019

Renowned psychologist Dr Leachim Semaj believes that although Jamaica popular music has long been nurtured by feuds, things can get out of hand if the artistes don't step in.

"The history of the music is always one against another from the days of Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster, then Super Cat and Ninja Man ... to the very popular clash between Gully (Mavado) and Gaza (Vybz Kartel), that took dancehall feuds to a special level because it was anchored on communities," he said.

Making a general reference to dancehall feuds, he expressed that it becomes a normal part of music that is largely testosterone-driven, to demonstrate competence, and who can lyrically "kill off" another artiste.

"Part of the whole dominance is to show who is bigger and 'badder' - fans feed off it - the same thing happens in rap and hip hop, not only limited to dancehall, where it leads to the recording artistes personifying lyrical content. By the way you don't find it with artistes whose music does not personify that kind of content," Semaj told THE STAR.

Convicted in a court

He explained that in his analysis, Adijah Palmer created Vybz Kartel, and he ended up in jail.

"And looking at the same parallel, Desmond Ballentine created Ninja Man but then he ultimately became the character and ended up being accused, tried and convicted in a court because the things he deejayed about, he personified," he said.

Alkaline and Squash have taken a similar musical direction, where their content, he says: "Stimulates feuding, fighting and violence whether real or virtual, running the risk of it going beyond the music and into the lives of the listeners."

The two deejays have been trading heavy lyrical punches recently and Semaj warned that their listeners may not make the distinction between virtual or real, leading to misinterpretation of lyrics.

"A lot of people have no life outside of their music hero ... so that identification becomes outblown and can become ugly," he said. "Oftentime even if it is imagined, the persons involved really have no desire to calm it down because it creates more excitement for them," he said. "But at some point, we have to call it to an end ... the Gully and Gaza leaders actually had to call a truce. The fans feed on the very music for their own purposes but the unfortunate part of our music is that it could get out of hand, and then calm down until another cycle starts again."

While some fans are waiting for the next round of 'diss' tracks from the artistes, there are others who are taking the lyrical threats further, with actual intimidation, posting videos on social media of weapons to demonstrate which side has a more powerful following.

When asked if he condones the feud, Squash's manager Junior 'Heavy D' Fraser, said it is just lyrics.

He said: "It got erratic across the Caribbean with Gully and Gaza when people formed cliques, but it is just part of the excitement in dancehall for a long time."

He shared that it was only last Sunday that he saw the video with guns and wondered why people were so foolish.

Yet he does not believe the current feud is at an alarming level.

"Probably dem (the artistes) have to declare something. I will speak to him [Squash] but me sure them nah fight although the lyrics ah get personal. If it getting too extreme, I will step in," he said.

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