Following his untimely death, ClashMusic an online music site presented the full transcript of their interview with veteran Jamaican reggae act Sugar Minott.
Miguel Cullen of Clash spoke to the singer in February of this year 2010 for a feature which you can read HERE
For the full transcript go HERE
He was asked about his early career with Sir Coxxone Dodd up to his associations with present reggae stars such as Garnett Silk and Junior Reid. He was then asked about homophobia in the music to which he responded in the following excerpt:
MC: Where do you stand with the homophobia in dancehall?
Sugar Minott: We grew up like that – religion, Rastafari, Christianity – we always against things like that. It’s not because people are coming up with it now – we always been like that.
Jamaica’s like that. Myself – I don’t condone violence – people trying to kill people because of their lifestyle – or whatever. We have to live together
Anyway. I would say – leave them to Jah. I even recorded a song – just for the fun of it – then we decided ‘no man we can’t put this out’. It was against…you know what….when all this nonsense came out I didn’t bother to release it.
MC: How did it go?
Sugar Minott: [Laughs “If you see a chi-chi man then run – then send bottle and stone after him. Run chi chi man run, with bottle and show coming after him”. It’s really funny – that’s what I’m saying! I’m not thinking that people’s gonna take it serious – like they’re really gonna do that! I thought – that’s a trend – ‘let’s do something with it.’
But it was just for fun, yu know? Stop taking it so serious! Jamaicans say ‘Boom Bye Bye’ [Song by Buju Banton that details shooting gay people in the head] just for fun, they’re not actually gonna boom bye bye nobody. I’m saying leave it alone. I’ve never committed violence against anyone who wants to live the way they want to live.
Unfortunately this is the dismissive tone taken towards the issue of homosexuality and with regards with hate lyrics or murder music, bearing in mind that older acts such as Sugar Minott never recorded such caustic lyrics but clearly from his pronouncements the thoughts were there.
Buju Banton lest we forget was 16 when he recorded this clearly prescriptive song for the demise of gay men in particular, lesbians weren’t selected for the punishment in this piece but the alliteration “Boom Bye Bye” is clearly emphasising the sound of the gunshots being administered to the offending party.
Murder music came to full maturity in the late eighties on the strength of several cases of alleged paedophilia and the related sensationlism of those stories by tabloid newspapers where the link was and is still made to homosexuality, tabloid’s steady diet of stereotypical and prejudicial stories of male homosexuality namely papers like the now defunct Enquiry, Excess and the still published XNews, the criticisms of the LGBT agitations in the US and elsewhere, the use of homophobic innuendo towards specific politians during election campaigns specifically former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson and subsequent public outcry following the steady feeds of all of the above. Coupled with all of those is the nation’s obsession with masculinity or machismo (thug culture)
In fact Buju Banton’s song “Boom Bye Bye” was supposed to be a response to one of those awful cases where a man allegedly sexually abused a boy who was found dead. The country by right was outraged but the marrying of paedophilia and adult male homosexuality without any serious rebuttal has left the gay community suffering unwanted consequences over the decades.
To dismiss this song’s meaning and or prescription for gays as a joke is a clear show of the cynicism that pervades a wide cross-section of Jamaican society. There is a popular saying “What is a joke to you is death to me” maybe in this case we can take it literally.
Mark Myrie aka Buju Banton was also allegedly involved himself in an attack on a group of gay men in a middle class residential area near his studio at the time in Kingston where the supposed antics of the men drew the anger studio visitors and idlers who often congregated on the outside of the gate waiting to meet a recording star, get a chance to voice tracks or beg money.
Buju was however relieved of going to trial on the matter as the charges were dropped by the lawyers representing the men one of whom was badly beaten to the point he now has one eye due to the injuries, for their own safety they never continued to full trial.
So taking into account all of that to see the real threats out there to suspected gays and lesbians and merely pass it off as a joke or some metaphor for something else is an insult to say the least. These are the artists we hold as icons with high esteem and they give subtle support to homophobia.
Of course the cop-out argument or line usually follows where in this case he said “I don’t condone violence – people trying to kill people because of their lifestyle – or whatever. We have to live together” which is supposed to soften or give some level of tolerance which most times are really not genuine I feel and are only rhetoric.
Sorry we didn’t see this before his untimely death where someone could respond to this.
Peace and tolerance.