Dancehall Legend Baby Cham Calls Jamaican Gov’t Bias For Easing UK Travel Ban

Baby Cham speak on the Jamaican government lifting UK travel ban while ignoring the entertainment sector.

Most sectors of the Jamaican economy, like many other countries around the world, have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The entertainment sector has staggered and tried as best as possible to keep up with the restrictions put in place to safeguard the country. With restrictions looking to be relaxed soon for UK tourism, veteran dancehall artist Baby Cham is making his feelings on the way the government handled the pandemic known. He posted a clip of his recent track called “Lockdown” on Usain Bolt’s Clockwork Riddim. He made sure to include his more explicit lyrics in expressing his feelings on Instagram.

He also made his feelings known with the caption attached to the short video clip. He was obviously upset as he also made the caption in all caps.

“TOURISM BOARD AND THE HOTELS / RESORTS CRIED THAT THEIR BUSINESS IS DYING, SO THE GOVERNMENT IS OPENING THE COUNTRY FOR THEM ON MAY 1ST TO SAVE THEIR POCKETS!! PROMOTER, DJs, ENTERTAINERS, CORNER SHOPS AND THE PEOPLE OF THE COUNTRY HAVE BEEN CRYING (TO DEAF EARS) THAT THEY TOO ARE DYING – BUT THE GOVERNMENT HAS IMPOSED STRICTER “LOCK DOWN” ON THEM!! WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR? WHO PUT YOU IN POWER?? WILL YOU POLICE THE HOTELS AND TOURIST THE SAME AS YOU POLICE THE PEOPLE???” he posted.

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A post shared by Baby Cham (@thecham)

The “Ghetto Story” deejay is lashing out at Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who recently announced that the travel ban on the United Kingdom, which was supposed to end last Friday, April 30, would not be renewed. The ban was part of Jamaica’s Disaster Risk Management Act to help mitigate the spread of the UK variant of the virus.

“On Saturday May 1, Jamaica will reopen its borders to international visitors from the United Kingdom. This will enable the critical gateways of Heathrow and Gatwick airports, to have transit for passengers coming through and who are fully compliant with health and safety protocols required for international travel,” Bartlett said.

He added that the decision was taken to try and help boost the island’s economy.

“Jamaica’s position at this time is critical in relation to the opening up of the summer tourist season and in fact, the importance of enabling the diaspora, particularly the strong British clientele that have always come to the island,” he said.

Jamaica’s borders have been open since June 2020, and they’ve already welcomed about 1.5 million visitors. All visitors welcomed had a quarantine period and had to follow other health protocols. Cham’s take on the matter is that the hoteliers and others in the sector cried out for help and have been given it while the poor and disenfranchised have been left to fend for themselves. The part of the song he chose lamented all of these issues. For the most part, it seemed that his fans agreed with his stance.

“Unfair bad and it is not even funny. The government is not for the people who risk their life during election and put dem on power…. Set of dictators,” this fan said, another added, “@cham….pure double standard!!!! Do the jamaican govt realize sey a di people, di food, di place and definitely di music why most tourists come a yaad? The citizens, athletes and mostly of the artists promote the country and are the quintessential vessel in putting out Jamaica to the world. Tek care a u people dem govt of JA. U can’t have certain people a benefit in di country and the ones who put unu in postion a get constant raw deals.. get it under control quick,” and this fan chimed in, “Such everyone should boycott travelling there until its open for all. Most of the owners prob not even citizens. Although yes they employ them but still. That country is what it is because of what the leaders have done or more importantly not done to help the country as a whole and that goes for anyone who has a voice. Soooo many voices and I hear like 3. Why. Crickets and ants everywhere just like that Disney movie. Watch that. Same sht.”

Do you agree with Baby Cham’s take on UK tourists being allowed into Jamaica?

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Popcaan Told PM Andrew Holness To Invest “Your money into dancehall music”

Popcaan added an interesting twist to the ongoing discussion of Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness blaming dancehall for crimes in the country.

In an early morning tweet on Thursday (April 8), Popcaan told PM Holness to invest some of his own money into dancehall music. His statement comes after PM Holness says that he’s the first Jamaican Prime Minister to openly embraced and support dancehall music. Still, his recent statement triggered a backlash not only from entertainers but also from fans, a lot of whom have voted for him in past elections.

“Good morning mr prime minister, invest some of your money into dancehall music, Embrace it for a year!!!! you’ll never regret your investment,” Popcaan tweeted.

While it’s very unlikely that the Prime Minister will respond to Popcaan directly, it’s likely that he will further address the broader issue in the near future. The Unruly deejay’s tweet breathes new life into the ongoing debate sparked by the Holness over a week ago where he blamed dancehall lyrics for high crime rate. The vast majority of fans of the deejay disagree with Holness’s assessment, but some others don’t agree with politicians pumping money in the genre due to the fear that they will ultimately stifle creativity.

“Government not allowed to mix up in Art or Culture poppy,” one fan tweeted in response to Popcaan. “Our creativity is at risk if such should happen. Plus we no want nuh hand outs from Politicians remember.”

Good morning mr prime minister, invest some of your money into dancehall music, Embrace it for a year!!!! you'll never regret your investment.

— Popcaan (@PopcaanMusic) April 8, 2021

Government not allowed to mix up in Art or Culture poppy. Our creativity is at risk if such should happen. Plus we no want nuh hand outs from Politicians remember.

— Eddie Fisher (@kause1331) April 8, 2021

Suppose the Prime Minister should invest his own money in ventures related to dancehall. In that case, it means he would retain some ownership stake in that venture, so perhaps Popcaan is echoing an age-old cry from the entertainment community that the government of Jamaica is not investing enough money into the music and culture, even though reggae/dancehall contributes to a portion of the country’s GDP directly and indirectly through promoting Jamaica on tour globally.

In 2019, Reggae Sumfest generated over JM$1 billion into the Jamaican economy, according to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett. The vast majority of those funds came from overseas from patrons who flew to Jamaica to attend the event, which was one of the largest stagings of Sumfest to date in terms of attendance.

“We estimate the revenue impact from the festival to be $J1 Billion based on average room nights stay of locals and visitors and taxes,” Minister Bartlett echoed before adding. “The success of entertainment festivals such as Sumfest augurs well for tourism as it boosts arrivals and has a major economic impact in and around Montego Bay.”

Is there an incentive for the government to invest in dancehall? The answer is an overwhelming yes, as pointed out by Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ own cabinet minister.

That same year, PM Holness vowed that he would protect dancehall music from degeneration. “It is not everything that we call ‘culture’ will have the longevity to carry from generation to generation,” Holness said. “Societies have died because culture degenerated into decadence. The State cannot just stand by and allow the culture to just degenerate. The State has to work in support of those people who are willing to see to the longevity of the culture.”

While there is evidence that PM Andrew Holness has embraced dancehall in the past and engaged with artists, a growing number of dancehall entertainers feel his recent comments are tone-deaf. Veteran artists like Baby Cham pointed out several contributors to the crime wave gripping the island for decades. These contributors are still not addressed by successive administrations.

“From where I stand, as someone from the inner city, the ghetto and a public figure, I have observed where poverty, poor leadership, illiteracy, and lack of opportunities for Jamaica youths are the top four contributors of the country’s high crime rate, not the music,” Baby Cham said while pointing out that children also consumed other contents deemed violent through other mediums like Netflix on their smartphones.

Other artists like the legendary Bounty Killer and his former Alliance protege, Mavado, have all spoken out strongly against the PM’s statement.

Undoubtedly, this discussion is needed at this present moment in dancehall and needs to be an ongoing one. Nevertheless, Popcaan just added another side to the conversation with a single tweet.

Should Prime Minister Andrew Holness invest his own money in dancehall music?

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