On industry, slackness and spirituality

Another influence was the growing backlash against “slackness” and “violence” music in certain circles. Hence the “banning” of Lady Saw from  performing in Montego Bay proclaimed by that city’s Mayor after her notorious success at one of the music festivals there; or the decision by various members of the Jamaican Federation of Musicians to refuse to provide musical backing for singers of slackness or violence, or a renewed policy of filtering of much of this music by certain of the radio stations and a corresponding promotion of “spiritual” music.

The conditions in the “industry” were therefore conducive to a renewal. It is obvious that the swing benefitted enormously from the emergence of heavily “spiritual” singers of the quality of Garnet Silk in the early nineties, or Luciano slightly after, but the dance hall also experienced a duality in some and an outright “conversion” in others of its major figures. Lady Saw, for example, the top female D.J. who continues to be the undisputed queen of sex lyrics, can sing a highly successful song of praise and thanks to God (“Glory be to God”) for her material advancement resulting from those same “slackness” songs. In the midst of his 1991 album of sex lyrics, “Gold”, Capleton sings a song “Bible fi dem,” proclaiming his religious righteousness. It is neither that these singers are being inconsistent nor that they are being opportunist. Indeed, their reconciliation of sex with spirituality is consistent with a value system that does not dichotomize carnality and spirituality.

Naturally, such a mix does not meet with approval from orthodox Rastafari. In discussing “the anointing” of dancehall, Yasus Afari argues that: “You cannot accept just any song into the dance because the dance is to praise Jah.”

Even Capleton becomes intolerant of sexual lyrics in his more recent phase. And yet, Bob Marley had no difficulty in singing songs of sexual expression, if not slackness, recognizing the validity of this human dimension, just as front-line “conscious” singers like Buju Banton today defend the mix of carnality and spirituality.

Found in: Babylon to Vatican: Religion in the Dance Hall
Author: Joseph Pereira
Source: Journal of West Indian Literature, Vol. 8, No. 1 (OCTOBER 1998)

Image source: Lady Saw Net Worth



Despite the balance between its good and bad effects,
identified by critical globalists, globalization has not been a
politically neutral activity. While access to global forms of
communication, markets and culture may indeed be worldwide
today, it has been argued by some critics that if one asks how
that access is enabled and by what ideological machinery it is
advanced, it can be seen that the operation of globalization
cannot be separated from the structures of power perpetuated
by European imperialism. Global culture is a continuation of an
imperial dynamic of influence, control, dissemination and
hegemony that operates according to an already initiated
structure of power that emerged in the sixteenth century in the
great confluence of imperialism, capitalism and modernity. This
explains why the forces of globalization are still, in some senses,
centred in the West (in terms of power and institutional
organization), despite their global dissemination.
(p. 113.)


Although slavery existed in many periods and in many
societies (e.g. many African societies had ‘slaves’), they were
not commercial slaves in this modern sense. Slavery was often
associated with exogamous groups, captives or members of other
groups outside the community, but the post-Renaissance
development of an intense ideology of racism produced the
peculiarly destructive modern form of commercial, chattel slavery
slave/ slavery in which all rights and all human values were set aside and from
which only a few could ever hope to achieve full manumission
(legal freedom). Many of the pseudo-objective, ‘scientific’
discourses by which colonialism justified its practices flowed
from the need to rationalize such an indefensible commercial
exploitation and oppression, on a mass scale, of millions of human
beings. It has been suggested by some commentators that
slavery gave birth to racism, at least in its modern form, just as
racism became the excuse for slavery’s excesses (Davidson 1994).
Race and racial prejudice in their modern forms have thus been
intimately bound up with the colonial form of the institution of
slavery, to the degree that it seems almost impossible to
disentangle them.
(p. 213.-214.)

Key concepts in post-colonial studies / Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin.

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