Homophobia in dancehall/reggae culture.


I was in East London this evening, for a friend's birthday. He decided to go to an event which combined various world music groups, touching on klezmer and reggae/dancehall. Now, I'm not generally into this venue, because there tends to be quite a wank/hippy crowd, which i find irritating. Anyway, I ended up going... kind of out of duty.

Having produced a dancehall radio show for a couple years, I'm pretty tight when it comes to Patois, and particularly, I know inappropriate lyrics when I hear them. Now during a reggae live band set which spoke all about LOVE and PEACE, a bunch of guest MCs came on stage. At least one MC busted out a couple verses, which were pretty shocking, full on homophobic content.

As an MC tried to sell me a CD outside the venue on my way out, I thought I'd say to him why I wasn't too happy with the night, and so wouldn't be buying a CD.... It didn't go down well at all.

So, I guess my question is, how is this still cool? This was in an apparently tolerant, liberal world music venue, and yet they were, probably without realizing, allowing some crazy shit to be performed to 200-400 punters.

Hmmm..... tricky.


Darned cockwombles.
Yeah, super-complicated for sure!

Have been in London gay clubs though where they play pretty full-on/generically homophobic dancehall stuff, with a kind of shrug of the shoulders - yeah, we know the lyrics are bullshit, but what can we do? Never listen to dancehall again (as homophobic lyrics are kind of endemic in the genre)? It ain't gonna change, and obv we know that the reasons for endemic homophobia in Jamaica are massively complicated. And it was primarily a dancehall night, weren't playing it for 'monthly flavour'.

Read a really interesting article on homophobia and colonialism in Africa a while back, will try to dig out, prob v relevant to Jamaica too, I would think/assume.

"Tolerant, liberal world music venue"/"quite a wank/hippy crowd" - i think you've identified yourself why no-one else really latched onto the issue at all!
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bandz ahoy
A lot of the music I listen to at the moment is sexist, homophobic, materialistic and glamorizes violence. Though I suppose this is largely culturally determined it still sometimes offends or depresses me. But at the same time, part of the reason some of this music is so good is that its raw and full of aggression - braggadocio/ego assertion seems to drive the music energetically. There's a nasty aggressive side to every person and as bad as that is it still is something music can tap into very effectively. I just feel if I stop myself listening to music that's morally offensive to me I'm going to be missing out on a lot of great music. This is what Baboon said about dancehall above me - taking it with a pinch of salt. But also, in the case of Hip-Hop, the violence/anger of some of it is actually important in considering the cultural/economic realities that lie behind it...

But then, would I listen to racist Nazi music by American skinheads if it happened to be really good music? :slanted:


Well-known member
its not cool. but if you love the music you can overlook it. not excuse it, or justify it, but just overlook it. being a hip hop fan for so many years made me realise/have to tolerate this. but then if i didnt listen to every artist with stupid opinions i wouldnt listen to various rockers either. iggy pop has said a lot of really stupid racist comments but i still like the stooges. bowie seemed to have a hard on for the swastika (him and plenty others). i could be here all day.


Yeah, I know what you mean, as I too have been a hiphop fan for 15 years, but when it is live, and face to face, it somehow seems a lot more real, offensive, and dangerous. And my instinct to fight against it is much stronger.

Standing there last night without saying anything would have felt more like condoning what they are saying, than hearing a record which says the same thing. Odd.


Well-known member
ive not listened to dancehall anywhere near as much as hip hop but rappers basically hate everyone, whether its white people, 'a-rabs', asians, the police, the government, women, other black people, everyone really, so its not surprising they hate gays too (not lesbians though, lesbians are okay). though gays dont get bashed in hip hop as much as they seem to in dancehall. and there are at least various unintentionally funny lyrics to do with asses in hip hop that you can laugh at a little.

Sick Boy

All about pride and egos
All I know is that if I had to listen to morally perfect music for the rest of my life I would fucking kill myself immediately.