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By Claudia Gardner- The Government and the Opposition are engaged in a quarrel over concerts headlined by Queen Of Dancehall Spice and Whap Whap deejay Skillibeng, which were paid for with State funds.
Opposition leader Aubrey Norton referred to Spice and Skillibeng as the “worst of the Dancehall music” while suggesting Beenie Man and Buju Banton ought to have been booked instead, the Stabroek News reported earlier this week.
The accusations came following the recent Guyana Cricket Carnival where Spice, Skillibeng, as well as Beres Hammond, Ravi B, Machel Montano, and Patrice Roberts performed at Government-sponsored super concerts.
At his weekly press conference yesterday, Norton doubled down on the initial statements he had made on Saturday at a youth rally, pointing out that, while his party is not against music nor concerts, it will continue to oppose the promotion of entertainment and entertainers who “promote disrespect of women, lawlessness and violence.”
“We have heard good music from Buju Banton. We have heard good music from Bob Marley. Beenie Man has some good music and so it’s not a question of music per se. If we are selective in the artists, then we will promote a culture that instils certain values in young people. But if you bring the worst of the Dancehall music, if you bring those that are degrading and not focused on developing young people with dignity, then we have to oppose it,” he said.
During the Cricket Carnival, Spice and her dancers had gone full raunchy with their usual “sheet” choreography, skinning-out, and gyrating as she performed a slew of explicit songs such as Romantic Mood, Sheet, Ramping Shop, Tape Measure and others.
Skilli, during his set, had performed Whap Whap, Hot, Coke, Bad Man Ting, Brik Pan Brik, Crocodile Teeth and other gun songs, as well as 2Gyal and a few other raunchy tracks.
Last Saturday, while addressing the Guyana Youth and Student Movement (GYSM) – PNCR’s youth corps, Norton, in driving home his point, said that most of the Dancehall music, was not even popular in Jamaica, while adding that the Government’s sole intention was to “reduce young people to just entertainment”.
“They [government] are feeding our young people a diet of lawlessness. When that is done they are destroying your moral fabric. When that is done, they are creating conditions for the men to be abusive to women. Because a lot of it [the music] is derogatory about women. When that is done, they are removing your critical thinking capabilities,” he told his audience.
According to the report, Norton, who also accused the Irfaan Ali administration of using the concerts as a means of corruption and “enriching” their friends, also said the Government was engaging in what he described as a steady diet of chaos, by way of the types of concerts it sponsors.
Taking his argument a step further, Norton had described the country’s Culture Minister, Charles Ramson, as being “visionless”, with no plans for the development of Guyanese culture and making no attempts to pump resources into developing the country’s indigenous music.
Back in 2019, shortly after he was released from prison, Buju Banton performed in Guyana at the “I am Legend” concert, Stabroek News noted. The newspaper added that, at that time, Norton’s party was in power and some $40 million GYD was reportedly spent on tickets by the government.
On Wednesday, Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Kwame McCoy responded in a Facebook video statement and described Norton’s statements as a “campaign of racism” aimed at undermining the president’s One Guyana Initiative.
McCoy also said that in the 2020 presidential election campaign, the Opposition “used the same types of music by some of the very same artistes he is now condemning.”
“Even while Norton himself is hypocritically condemning entertainment, he could be seen being entertained regularly, gyrating to the same kinds of music, at his favourite ‘bam-bam spot’ on Orange Walk,” he said.
“Youths and all Guyanese alike must reject his shameless, unpatriotic rhetoric and position yourself to benefit from the numerous social and economic programmes designed by the People’s Progressive Party’s civic administration to empower you and bring prosperity to your families and communities, regardless of your ethnicity or political persuasion,” the Minister added.
The inaugural Guyana Cricket Carnival concluded on October 2, following the CPL Finals.
In June 2022, Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn announced that Dancehall artist Skeng had been banned from performing publicly in Guyana. Benn’s statements came after a show headlined by Skeng came to an abrupt end, shortly after celebratory gunshots erupted during his performance of Protocol.
At the time, Benn noted that the authorities would take a similar stance against those promoting vulgarity and gun violence at public events and on the airwaves. (dancehallmag.com)