Police want study on effects of dancehall music on crime
Commissioner convinced lyrics influence unruly behaviour


Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams (third right) addresses Jamaica Observer journalists last week. Others from left are Assistant Commissioner Ealan Powell, Deputy Commissioner Clifford Blake, Deputy Commissioner Novelette Grant, and Deputy Commissioners Glenmore Hinds and George Quallo.Kenyon Hemans

Police commissioner Dr Carl Williams says the High Command would be willing to support a detailed study of the link between violent dancehall lyrics and crime, because the police are convinced that the two are not unrelated.

“If you speak about violence, sing about violence, and you are violent, then there must be some correlation there,” the police chief stated during a session with Jamaica Observer journalists at the newspaper’s headquarters last Tuesday.

In fact, Dr Williams pointed out that when anti-gang legislation was being promulgated the police had lobbied for a provision that would address this concern.

“We did consider it seriously when the anti-gang legislation was being discussed. We did make connections between some people who were deeply involved in crime and the kind of lyrics that they espoused or listened to, and we made the argument successfully for an inclusion of a clause in the law,” he stated.

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He argued further that: “The truth is that a lot of the people who are involved in violent crimes who are singing about these things, are actually involved directly or indirectly. We know of a particular person who was one of the most prolific [with] anti-police, pro-gun lyrics.”
Head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ealan Powell reminded too that at the height of the rivalry of violent lyrics between Adidja “Vybz Kartel”Palmer and another prominent dancehall artiste, the tension which escalated among their fans even impacted high school students.

“In almost every school — not just in Jamaica, but in many of the Caribbean islands — there were two gangs. His demise led to a significant de-escalation of these activities. If it had continued can you imagine where we would have been now? The lyrics went hand in hand with those kind of practices,” he asserted.

In what has become one of the most talked about murder trials involving a Jamaican dancehall act, who many would argue was at the height of his career at the time, Palmer was in 2014 sentenced to life in prison for the 2011 murder of Clive `Lizard` Williams. The trial, which saw diehard supporters in the streets calling for the deejay`s release, was the longest in the country’s history. Kartel, who had already served three years behind bars, was put away by 10-1 jury vote and will serve 35 years before being eligible for parole. He has appealed the verdict.

The entertainer and his three other co-accused were charged with killing Williams over guns which the victim allegedly stole from the deejay and his cronies.

Many Jamaicans will never forget text messaged evidence presented in court in which Palmer is said to have described in shocking detail how he and accomplices “chop up” Williams “fine fine” and disposed of the remains.

Shawn Campbell, another then rising dancehall artiste known as ‘Shawn Storm’, Kahira Jones and Andre St John were handed down lesser sentences.


  1. ALL MUSIC INFLUENCE THE BRAIN one way or the other ….this is a waste of time ….we know it does . study something else to try combat crime ….this sound like a little laborite with a psychology degree a get a work in the new administration …f**k dem . WHEN MUSIC HITS YOU FEEL NO PAIN !

  2. Study effects of corruption, excessive force, outdated underfunded court system, poor education, poor parenting, poor infrastructure, anemic economic growth, mismanagement etc on crime…

    One question me wah ask… Wah kinda music you think the university student listen to?… Fact is the majority of persons who listen to dancehall music doesnt commit violent crime!

  3. All they need to know that our music and musicians are inspired by their environment and not the other way around. No doubt about it, music that glorify violence and the varying subversiveness can adversely impact the listener.

    it is all about which one came first, the egg or the chicken. Here’s what’s funny though, suggestive/negative music is not played on the airwaves and those who listen to so-called suggestive/negative music, elect to do so. Hence, if it it deemed that there is a direct correlation or a cause and effect relationship between the music and society’s violence, what else can the government do?

  4. Dro I agree with u 100%…what they should study is how some of these people get rich n never have a job n how wen a man have money him can make buy or own the law in Jamaica..

  5. It’s the mind of the individual. I have been listening to dancehall songs for years and so have my friends both men/woman and none of us have committed any crime (yeah we grow poor). On the other hands had friends that don’t listen to music grow with a comfortable lifestyle and wicked and do the most crimes. You can’t blame music, It’s how it’s interpreted with each individual.

  6. Good. Ban all the violent crap that is promoting hatred and disunity. Stop the gun worship and bring back some feel good music. The gangsta songs don’t sell a farrin anyway. Only Jamykan can overstand the lyrics and dem nah spend one red cent on di music so if it don’t earn and bullet burn, when will we learn?

  7. Anonymous 4:55 Vybz Kartel’s music was on the top of the list of popular prison music along with Tupac and others, people love the jamaican culture and especially how we talk do not underestimate it.

  8. Mi wahn know a who fah money dem going to use do this crap..which like the blasted bridge to noweh..kmt..Look pan all di tings dem fi guh research and a dance hall dem a look pan..smh

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