The Changing Faces of Dancehall

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A rebellious subculture, known as ‘rude bwoys’, has been synonymous with dancehall since the late 1970s. However, there is a more recent, darker trend forming amongst some of the genre’s young, emergent male artists.

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Actor/Singer Jimmy Cliff as his notorious character “Ivan” (from ‘The Harder They Come’) in the classic “rude bwoy” stance

From dangerous cosmetic procedures such as skin bleaching to the tattooing and piercing of their face, these individuals are resorting to extreme tactics in order to ‘stand out’ and attain the all-important ‘buss’.

However there are more to these measures than just ‘hype’. It can be said that this revolution is partly a reaction to the socioeconomic struggles faced in Jamaica, a third world country with a distinct lack of accessible career opportunities for youth. As such, some would seek a tangible ‘way out’ of poverty via the music industry and choose to subscribe to it by any means necessary. This is easily compounded by the attractive glitz and glamour of stardom.

So, with this said, some of these young artists lack real talent and are simply ‘trying a t’ing’ and others are gifted. However, they all have three particular things in common: age group, popularity and a dream. Have a look:

  • Furtyle Brain (below) is an underground artist who hit headlines today for ‘implanting’ horns onto his head.
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“Is not a cult, is a culture, a new look for dancehall”

  • Checkdhat (below) is a relatively unknown artist who hit headlines this week for piercing his eye-lids; he’s also bleached his skin. He has allegedly expressed a desire to be the first dancehall artist to have such a piercing.

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  • One of dancehall’s hottest artists Alkaline (below) unveiled “tattooed” eyeballs and bleached skin to the world in 2013.
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“A lot a people didn’t know me before the eye surgery, to show that it’s not really talent alone take you through in this music industry”

  • After the buzz that followed Alkaline, local artist Mace (below) did the same thing in January 2014 and nearly lost his eyesight.
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“I was fully aware of the consequences in getting this procedure done but never knew it could have happened to me.”

  • Twenty three year old artist Vershon (below) sports a tattooed hairline

“I am the first artist to tattoo their hairline…It’s not easy keeping relevant in the industry as there are new faces emerging everyday. For me, the aim is to maintain an image that will make me stand out in the crowd”

  • Gage (below) burst onto the scene this year with the rather self explanatory track ‘Throat’ which caused outrage as an extremely x-rated track. He has since bleached his skin.
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“I’ve gone where no one has gone before in dancehall, I’m willing to do some different t’ings…I don’t call myself an artist, I’m an adapter. I adapt to anything.”

  • Ikon TwitterUp and coming artist Ikon D hit headlines in August when he climbed the transmission pole at popular Jamaican radio station Zip FM and threatened to jump if his song wasn’t played; he paused to take a quick selfie and send a tweet (right). In a series of post-interviews, Ikon explained that his efforts to take all the right avenues to receiving airplay were all in vain, due to the lack of support that the station provides for young, aspiring artists.
  • Underground artist Radija (below) tattooed his eye area earlier this year.

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  • Tommy Lee Sparta (also known as ‘Uncle Demon’, below) is a former protégé of Vybz Kartel and an innovator behind the satanist-inspired sub-genre of dancehall. He has tattooed an image of a black scorpion on his face.

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“Tings and times change” indeed and, interestingly enough, most of these artists are engaged in public feuds with one another!

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One thought on “The Changing Faces of Dancehall

  1. BENJAMIN

    Those young Artist r followers of the devil n i feel pity on them due to their foolishness n blindness of Satanism.God was not n he is not a fool to create a human being in his own image.God should punish them by making them blind.So shocking what pple do for fame selling their own souls trully these are the last days.

    Like

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