AMSTERDAM – “Well, inna bed, weh man and woman shoulda hug and caress. So fire bun di people weh deh with the same sex.” This is a lyric from the dancehall hit ‘Nuttin No Go So’ from the Jamaican artist Norman Howell, also known as Notch. He is not an exception to the rule: dancehall music, which is loved by many in the Caribbean, is littered with sexist, and homophobic lyrics.
For a while in the nineties it looked as if there would be a change in this practice when gay-rights groups called for an international boycott of dancehall artist who sang homophobic lyrics, or ‘murder music’ as the groups called it. Due to these boycotts well-known dancehall artists such as Buju Banton (Boom Boom Bye), and Beenie Man (Batty Man Fi Dead) saw their income, and popularity drop significantly in certain countries.
Gay-rights groups have also made their voice heard on the Dutch Caribbean islands. One example of this is when the group T.O.K. was set to perform in Aruba back in 2016. After the activists got involved, the group was banned from playing homophobic songs such as ChiChi Man at the Flip Flop Festival.
But even though the artists were boycotted by festivals, and their income dropped not much has changed over the years when it comes to the lyrics, according to Jamaican gay-right groups such as Outrage!, and J-Flag. That’s why nowadays gay-rights groups would much rather engage in conversation, or organize events with a statement such as ‘Pon de Pride’.