Look up “controversy” in the dictionary and you might find a picture of Jamaican Dancehall star Vybz Kartel. He launched his career over a decade ago as a ghostwriter for Bounty Killer and has since dominated Jamaican airwaves and gossip columns with outrageous tunes and numerous antics.
In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, 35 year old Vybz Kartel states, “The way I deliver the lyrics makes up for the rawness, the slackness, of what I’m talking about.”
Vybz also refers to himself as a lyrical prodigy and astute businessman that has accomplished what no other Dancehall Deejay has even tried to do. To add fuel to the fire, Kartel’s ever-lightening skin has generated plenty of angst about so-called “skin bleaching” in Jamaican culture.
Vybz’s response? A black man bleaching his skin is no different from women getting weaves and hair extensions! “Hell, yeah. And cosmetic surgery. Or when a girl straightens her hair, or gets collagen or silicone. I have said in a statement that when everyone stops doing all of that shit, we can all live naturally ever after. But until then, fuck you all!”
On June 21st he released Kingston Story, a collaboration with Brooklyn-based hip-hop/electro producer Dre Skull. Of the collaboration Vybz states,“…it has American influences – it’s a fusion. And I love that fusion. It affected me lyrically – it opened up my vocabulary and made me want to say more than just gun lyrics or just talking about fuck[ing].”
As for criticism for having a negative influence on Jamaican society by promoting sex and violence in a country with an extraordinarily high murder rate, he says, “In a third-world culture like Jamaica, crime and violence is rampant because of lack of social infrastructure for ghetto youth. There is corruption on all levels of society, from political corruption to corruption within the police force and the overall private sector, and all of that has led to the [decline] of society. Then society wants artists to take the blame, and be scapegoats labeled as role models? No, man, fuck that! I don’t want that title.”