The Penny Section of modern Dancehall

It is no secret that music has a profound effect on the mental state of a person. We experience it every day when we play music to lift our spirits, for motivation when working out or doing chores and even to help us connect with other feelings such as sadness or a broken heart


I grew up hearing the term penny section, not really understanding what it meant. I knew it was associated with making noise because they term is always used with be quiet but it wasn’t until I was in the 5th year of school,  studying Shakespeare, that I learned how that term came about and what it truly meant.

The penny section referenced the poor people or peasants in European theatre history. These people were basically the poor who earned in pennies and as such, when they walked or moved in the slightest the pennies would jingle. These people also paid very little to enter the theatre and were very rowdy. It is believed that the sexual innuendoes in the plays written by Shakespeare were to appease the penny section because the complexities of issues discussed by works such as Shakespeare was above the competencies of the underprivileged penny sectioners.

In looking at how the Jamaican DanceHall genre/scene has changed in the past few years, it was this thought that came to my head. Dancehall music has now become a style that only appeases the penny section of Jamaica.

Recently, I was viewing and old video posted by vlogger @duttyberry where Sean Paul was lauded for yet another number one song on the billboard charts having collaborated with @Sia on the hit Cheap Thrills (which I absolutely love). The song is a true reflection of the growth of dancehall music and all the barriers that past dancehall artists have broken to help position our music as one that is not only for the night but also can be listened and enjoyed during the day at a family BBQ or Office Party.

But to no surprise of mine, there was the penny section complaining about the fact that @Vybzkartel is the best thing in dancehall, in fact, some fans even say he is Dancehall. I can admit that Vybz Kartel is quite a talented artist and I have liked many of his music over the years, but I have disliked far more than I have liked. There’s no doubt that Kartel has shaped the recent image of the Jamaican Dancehall scene as is evident in the lyric style of many other artists who have followed in is foot step or have been given a “buss” by Kartel and or his management team. One name comes to mind @Alkaline who has not only copies his lyrical style and delivery but even his look.

I remember when I was a young girl listening to dancehall music, the days when dancehall wasn’t just catering to peasants so to speak. The truth is, Dancehall has always been sexually lewd and even violent but there was a certain je ne se qua associated with how the issues were presented. I remember songs like “Fowl Affair: Silvercat, Debbie’s Cat: Mega Plough and even more recently These Streets: Tanya Stephens ” that discussed sexuality in a manner where a child could easily listen to the lyrics and not comprehend the double meanings of the song. The old fashioned dancehall, that is missed by many Jamaicans, shows skill and craft my the writers and musicians. It shows a true understanding of the art of writing and the use of literary devices in writing. It basically shows, what I would outrightly call intelligence.

Modern Dancehall lacks this kind of intelligence craftiness and these days literally nothing is hidden in similes, metaphors and personifications, hyperboles etc. Everything is out there for the world to hear and see, in not just the lyrics but the dance videos associated with them. After all the work that had been done by various dancehall artist to include Sean Paul, one of Dancehall’s biggest international crossover artists, we are now being taken back to the point where dancehall music is being scoffed at by various countries (UK, Trinidad and Barbadoes)  and even by Jamaicans themselves. It is quite an irony of sorts where the person that the penny section are crowning king of the dancehall, can’t even perform outside of Jamaica, regardless of him currently serving a long term sentence for murder.

It is no secret that music has a profound effect on the mental state of a person. We experience it every day when we play music to lift our spirits, for motivation when working out or doing chores and even to help us connect with other feelings such as sadness or a broken heart. It, therefore, can be said that music may also have a negative impact on people/society as it does a positive one and as Jamaica’s Dancehall penny section takes over so has the ultimate degradation of the society. The whole culture of Jamaica seems to be going down the drain with everything being over-sexualized and violent as is represented in the music now consistently published in the Dancehall.

I am no social scientist, but I am a thinker and I can’t help but think that the over saturation of mediocrity in Jamaica, in many aspects but more pointedly in the music that we listen as a society have had a profound impact on the current state of mind and ultimate behavioral manifestations that we see in Jamaica today.

As the Mahatma Gandhi states, “a man is a product of his thoughts” which is more commonly expressed in Jamaica as so a man thinketh so is he, it can’t be any clearer that what we feed our minds is ultimately what we will become. So if Jamaicans to a great extent are feeding their minds with overly violent and sexual content, even as very young children, then is there any surprise that the society is manifesting these very things?

“Music can change the world because it can change people.”
― Bono

What do you think about this situation, please share in the comments.


Really Tyga?

A post on Facebook that recently caught my eye read “Tyga talks bad about Jamaica in new music video,” which basically elaborated about the outrage that many Jamaicans had about what Tyga said about Jamaican Ghettos, crime, etc. Before I read the article,  I quickly watched the video because I really wanted to have a background so as to better understand why Jamaicans are outraged.

I went into the comment section and read a few of the comments and many were deffending the music video saying Tyga didn’t say anything about Jamaica that isnt true. Sufice it to say, what many don’t seem to understand about why Jamaicans would be outraged over such representation of our beloved Island, is we already know that Jamaica has problems and up to  the recent smear of CNN labeling Jamaaica as “an extremely violent place” we are already au fait  with the fact that Jamaica has a crime, a economic, a social problem and that seems to be all that is out there in the media about Jamaica, except for when we are showing our glory on the tracks. What I believe Jamaicans are expressing by this particular case of outrage is , there are other things in Jamaica and we would like for those things to be given a little attention instead of our country constantly being painted as if it’s a war zone. Fay Ellington defended the country after CNN’s attack saying Jamaica has pockets of violence and  though she came under scrutiny, even from those within our shores, she also didn’t say anything wrong. Jamaica cannot hide from its crime problems but we also do have pockets of violence in Jamaica much like anywhere else in the world and of all places, The US of A is one to talk. Jamaica is about the same size as the state of Illinois, possibly smaller and with a smaller population. The violence in south-side Chicago in a day far outweighs the whole crime stats for Jamaica in  half a year. But if you should average the violence of the whole country then Jamaica would be babies in comparison. Per Capita is  the supremacist way of demonizing others in a politically correct way while making themselves seem better. You’d think black Americans of all persons would understand this.

Tyga shouldn’t be the one to come to Jamaica talking about our ghettos and crime. When they have worst issues in America to deal with. When black Americans  stop dying in the streets for no reason, then Tyga might have footing to criticize Jamaica.

Even though my rant on what was said is so long, that isnt even the worst part of the video.

This negro went to Jamaica, a country that is roughly 90% black/negro/African people and  said, the only reason that made him stay was this bleach blond white girl, who mind you is clearly not a native to Jamaica. Even the uptown light skinned Jamaicans look nothing like this bleach, blond Becky who was the center piece of his video. While they were black Jamaican girls in the video, they were only used as props in an overly sexual way. The whole point of Tyga coming to Jamaica to shoot and record a music video is because he wants the Jamaican dance hall flare, the same flare that gave Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” Rihanna’s “Work” and Drake’s “Controlla”, which all have a Dancehall sound and structure, their status on the Billboard Charts. Many mainstream American artist have used/exploited Jamaica’s culture, some giving ‘respek’ while others dont (cough…Justin Bierber gtfoh with that tropical house bs, you know that’s Dancehall). But Tyga’s disrespect of Jamaicans on Jamaica’s soil is unforgivable. How can you say the only thing that causes you to want to stay in Jamaica, is an imported,  out of place white girl with bantu knots? If black Americans such as himself are still hung up on sleeping with massa, that is not something that we want to be associated with in Jamaica.

We are literally in the process of trying to rescue those who are constantly bleaching themselves because they think they are unworthy because they are black and here you come reinforcing  the very same bullshit that has eroded these people’s ability to love the skin they were born in.

I I wont even get into the other blatant stereotypes present in this video. However, I will reiterate, Tyga, or any other american isnt exactly the person to point out the flaws in Jamaica. Any smart person/country would know to pick the beam from their eyes before they pick the speck from someone else’s. As the good book says…”He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Secondly, we don’t need you to export your self hatred to our island. It seems to be a trend with American black men to overly sexualize, exploit and discard black women while holding white women on a pedestal. We don’t need that kind of representation from a man who seems to be unable to find a woman who is age appropriate for him. We don’t need you to erode the work that we have been doing in Jamaica for years to uplift the average dark skinned woman.

Too many want the hype of brand Jamaica but have no respect for Jamaica and the Jamaican people. After all, isnt that what you call cultural appropriation in America?

And last but not least, the overall video was pointless and the song quite silly. This is a perfect example of instances where foreign invasion does more arm than good for our country.


Share Your World – 2014 Week 3

In what do you find the simplest of joys?

I find the simplest joys in music, especially those unique songs which seems to just touch my soul and causes me to feel that connection to the artist. Also I find the joy when I see a baby, especially a happy baby. Finally, a really simple joy for me is a dark night and a sky filled with stars.

Jello or Pudding? And what is your favorite flavor?

Jello has recently become one of my obsessions. i just love the texture of it and the refreshing feeling that i get after eating it. my favorite flavor is grape. In my country (Jamaica), pudding is something different and that I do like. For some reason however, I’ve never had a pudding cup.


Jamaican potato pudding

Is there a language you would like to learn?

I would love to learn French  only because they say its the language of love and I would like to refresh and improve my knowledge of Spanish.

Do you prefer juice or fruit?

I like some fruits as fruits and others  as juice.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 3