Stop the dagga whining about soca

February 19, 2009

The piece is by Owen “Blakka” Ellis.  I am not sure what date  it was penned or put into public circulation, although it was clearly done recently.   I am also publishing it here without one iota of permission from him; I know he would approve though. You can also complain directly to him if you disagree with any of his claims:

Whenever people offer critically conscious commentary on the lewd and licentious lyrical content in some dancehall music, a few frantic defenders of the crap always draw the old worn-out comparisons to soca.

My response, one long kiss-teeth and a longer yawn! Yeah man, I frankly think those comparisons are not only tired, but disingenuous.

Really now people,how can one compare ‘dollar wine’ to ‘daggering’? As a man, I can follow the singer’s instruction and dollar wine all by myself, but daggering definitely demands that I find a female counterpart (and whether she consents or not) I proceed to violently ‘dagger dat’.

How many soca songs you know where the lyrics directly and explicitly name and describe intimate female body parts in graphic, vulgar language without any attempt to cleverly disguise the denotation?

How many soca lyrics request that if you are not fond of the singer you are to do unspeakable things to your own mother?

Look man, I’m no big fan of soca music. I have actually delivered a paper at an international academic conference in which I publicly challenge our official promotion of that commercialised imitation of Trinidadian culture that we call Jamaica Carnival; and I argue that ‘passa-passa’ is among the more authentic exemplars of the ‘carnivalesque’ Jamaican culture.

But I think pickney fi stay a dem bed when big people a skin out at Passa-passa. That’s what I call regulation. I also totally support the view that, the same way how we wouldn’t put some passa-passa ‘bruck-out’ on TV during prime time, we shouldn’t put some of those Carnival scenes on either.

But I really don’t think we can justifiably defend slack dancehall lyrics by saying that soca songs do the same thing. That’s rubbish!

And I don’t think we should belabour the arguments against soca as a way of resisting attempts to regulate our airwaves. People, nothing is wrong with enforcing laws. And regulation works.

Whenever I’m in Jamaica and I have the time, I always visit that ‘madhouse’ on the Knutsford Boulevard hip Strip. I enjoying studying people and observing human social interaction – people display more truths about themselves when they are having fun – and Asylum is a great place to indulge that interest. I personally prefer going there on a Friday night when the after-work professional crowd comprises the main attendees.

That’s partly because the vibes is little milder than say a Tuesday night. Admittedly though, it’s also because my little brother has been one of the hosts for the ‘wacky Fridays’ interactive sessions for eight years, and I enjoy the opportunity to watch him work.

Now, depending on the night or the DJ in charge, some very explicit content can hit the airwaves inside the club, and crazy daggering gwaan! However, people who can’t handle that kind of content can still take their family for a meal at one of the many fast-food outlets in proximity to the club without being bombarded with what they view as inappropriate lyrics, because the venue is sound proof.

And the heavy security at the door ensures that no underage people are allowed inside and all weapons remain outside. Plus, once you’re inside you can’t miss the big chest, muscle-bound bouncers patrolling the space ready to throw out any guy who lights a spliff or bruck a fight. That is an example of regulation working.

So I suggest that more people support the recent attempts by the Broadcast Commission to enforce regulations. Yeah, it kinda belated, but better late than never; ’cause the current chaos can’t go on forever!


9 Responses to “Stop the dagga whining about soca”

  1. bandi Says:

    as a TrinBagonian first Caribbean person second I LOVE what BLAKKA has to say… I’ve used some of his musing before because he is very insightful…

    he is spot on with his analysis…

  2. Ruthibelle Says:

    Absolutely yes! Regulation necessary, and better late than never.


    So true Blacka!!I concur totally with your sentiments and perspectives.Very insightful comparison and contrast of both musical genres.As you rightly contend, enforcement of the law, with respect to questionable lyrics is essential.Nuff respect!!


    Longbench, my neighba already start making inquiries about how him and wifey can get a “Green Card” fi guh to Spain.LOL!!

  5. soyluv Says:

    nicely said. i think the ill-founded comparisons to soca are simply an attempt to deflect from the matter at hand. it’s symptomatic of what happens in a process when a people have to turn the mirror on themselves–it’s an uncomfortable place to be in and it’s much easier to point at someone else in the process.

    trinis do the same thing and immediately point at jamaican culture, not because said person is even necessarily pro-wine-and-jam and wave-and-get-on-bad but the process again, is uncomfortable and complaining about SOMEone else always helps…

    hmmm….i’d be interested to hear/read blakka’s connections between passa-passa as a ‘carnivalesque’ exemplary [vs. jamaica carnival that is] in jamaican culture. anybody know where i can find that? it’s a fascinating concept…so would the whole explosion of passa-passa type fashion and whatnot then, be akin to the carnival masqueraders escape from reality for two days via a costume? and is this escape in passa-passa limited by the fact that it’s mainly [if not solely] defined by the sexual?

    • longbench Says:

      Hi soyluv, thanks for stopping by. Lots of academic types turning their attention to passa-passa now. There was a piece in Small Axe a couple issues ago. I think far too much is being made of these spaces sometimes, but that’s because dancehall is being written about as if it WAS jamaica, rather than a part of jamaica. Some of that is really the bias of projecting kingston onto the rest of the country, and the laziness of scholars not going anywhere else outside of the convenience of the somewhat familiar vibe of Kgn.

  6. mark Says:

    well written article……..i think dem little youths need to stay until they old enough…in trinidad and jamaica…i’m a trini and there plenty good dancehall and soca songs that dont talk about daggering….music is the healing of the a nation.. edit it but dont ban it

    • longbench Says:

      Mark – thanks for stopping by. Music *can be* the healing of a nation. Right now, nihilism is the mood of the day here in Ja. Let’s hope things turn around soon. Visit again!

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