Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come best describes Vybz Kartel’s journey thus far – “there been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long but now I think I’m able to carry on. It’s been a long, a long time comin’ but I know a change is gon’ come. Oh, yes it will.” And for Jamaica, it has.
Undeniably talented and arguably the most mystical personality to come out of Jamaica since Bob Marley, Vybz Kartel is seen as a musical demigod to some and the devil personified to others. In a New York Times article, Vybz Kartel’s marketability was compared to that of Lady Gaga, Madonna and Jay Z. The Rolling Stone Magazine is quoted as saying “look up controversy in the Jamaican dictionary and you might find a photo of Adidjah Palmer, aka dancehall star Vybz Kartel.”
Vybz Kartel has had an indelible effect on the policy and people of Jamaica, including forcing the Jamaican government to change broadcasting rules in an effort to curb his musical influence, revolutionizing female sexuality by allowing Jamaican women to acknowledge and embrace their sexual inhibitions and challenging the political status quo by having many in Jamaica pay allegiance to the Gaza (his hometown) instead of PNP and JLP political parties. Vybz Kartel has been summoned to Jamaica House by the Prime Minister, invited to the podium of esteemed universities by learned professors and brought to West Kingston to demonstrate the unity between himself and his musical rival Movado. Oddly enough, these events took place whilst Vybz Kartel (the person) and his music were refused both entry and airplay in many countries.
Vybz Kartel’s musical influence combined with his demeanor has made him the man Jamaica loves to hate and the artist that many hate to admit that they love. Vybz Kartel, who maintains his innocence, is currently in custody at the Horizon Remand Centre in Jamaica on the allegations of murder and other criminal offenses. Nonetheless, Vybz Kartel has vowed that prison bars shall neither silence nor hinder his message.
Vybz Kartel and his co-author, Michael Dawson completed the first draft of this book early summer 2011 intending for this text to serve as a catalyst for discussions on classism, racism and other “isms and schisms” existing in modern day Jamaica. While Vybz Kartel proudly acknowledges 50 years of Independence for Jamaica, The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto boldly asks – “50 years of what for poor people?”