Daggering” is more than the latest yardie slang for sex, it’s a ritualized theater of the absurd that’s taken the dancehall by storm with acrobatic, thigh-bruising dance moves and a slew of songs cashing in on the controversial trend. It’s not like this machete/manhood metaphor is anything new. Nobody flipped out over Lady Saw’s “Stab Up The Meat” did they? Okay, maybe a few people did, but somehow the whole thing seems more appropriate when the young lady asks to be daggered.

Nevertheless, Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission has ordered the island’s radio, TV, and cable operators to delete all “Dagggering” songs and videos from their playlists or face “strong disciplinary action.”

Check out the JBC’s excruciating statement here. Among the artists dragged into the fray was Vybz Kartel, whose addictively explicit duet with Spice, “Rampin Shop” has been one of the biggest tunes in Jamaica since late last year. When Spice’s seductive voice is all T-Pained-up, begging “Kartel spin me like a satellite dish,” the mind boggles, but the flesh knows just what to do.

Although the song makes no mention of “Daggering” per se, Kartel does assert early on that “Me cocky longer than me knife.” Six of one, half dozen of the other—the Kartel and Spice duet is right up at the top of any list of verboten “Daggering” songs. Mind you, it’s not as if a record that jacks the beat from Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent” and requires every third word to be edited for radio play was rising to top of anybody’s international pop charts any time soon. Still, Kartel was none too pleased at the Daggering moratorium. After all, he’s got a line of condoms to promote by the same name.

So the DJ was in no mood for rampin’ when, on February 1st, the Jamaica Gleaner published a letter to the editor from Esther Tyson, principal of Ardenne High School in St. Andrew parish. Said letter described Kartel’s record as “musical poison,” and went on to relate the results of an informal poll of the school’s 1930 students, 115 of whom responded in writing. The principal was pleased to report that “all but two of these students describe the song as being disgusting, inappropriate for air play and having a negative impact on their psyche.” The letter was subsequenly hailed as “courageous” by another Gleaner reader. (Though nowhere near as courageous as the two students who dared to disagree with their prinicipal and cast their votes in defense of daggering.)

Whereupon Kartel flipped into Addi Di Teacha mode, responding with a letter of his own. The Gleaner ran an abridged version in its February 9th edition. But as a public service to the Boomshots massive, here is the DJ’s emailed response, in its entirety. We report, you decide:

Response to Ms Tyson’s circus clown antics:

Dear Sir, Madam,

This is a response to an article written by Esther Tyson and advocated by the rest of the social hypocrites who claim “Romping Shop” is “musical poison.”

I understand the term “to whom much is given, much is expected” but I’m not to be expected by society or “finger pointers” to make my fans or the rest of jamaica “computer literate” or lead the nation into becoming the epitome of morality because I’m not a religious leader, nor am I a political one. I’m not the government, I never received foreign millions to invest in the country’s spiraling infrastructure to build schools and develop and cultivate social programs in the communities and hid it in my personal bank book. I was never indicted in any political scandal, never built a garrison community, never set any elections or stole ballots. My obligation to the public is to produce music that is of the highest musical quality (on key, in sync with rhythm, audible etc…) the morality of my songs is relative, meaning each individual depending on his/her social upbringing determines if my songs are “slack” and since the “majority” like it… point taken?

Ms. Tyson, I think you are a woman with a lot of personal issues looking for an avenue to vent your sexual frustration and/or anxiety, and you found the perfect scapegoat for your conquest via “Romping Shop.” I see that you are quick to point out that the song begins with the homophobic phrase, “Man to man, gal to gal, that wrong” (what a way you listening keenly). It seems you’re clearly against my declaration of homophobia. When, on the other hand, the national outrage (from straight people) when Peter King was found to be sexually exploiting young boys, didn’t arouse your anger enough for you to write a letter to the editor.

Ms. Tyson, the “Devastating impact on the psyche of Jamaican children” is not caused by “daggering” songs; but, rather by socio-economic conditions which leave children without free education; single parent homes, (or shacks) lack of social infrastructure in ghetto communities, as well as unemployed and disenfranchised young men, with no basic skills, who are caught up in the “gun culture” cultivated by our politicians in the ’60’s / ’70’s. These issues are all faults of the government (PNP or JLP).

When Vybz Kartel did “Money Fi Spen”

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(with the intro being “We nah run dung gun…we nah run dung war”) and it went to number one on the charts, no accolades were given.

When I did “Emergency”

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no accolades were given either; but, when the same audience that embraced all those “reality” songs embraced “Romping Shop” for what it is, i.e., music, it’s a problem to you and yours, the scribes and pharisees of our time! What have any of you done to enrich the culture and the coffers of Jamaican music, especially dancehall music, that makes you think you have the right to criticize and chastise a (sub)culture, which you clearly know nothing about? When we go abroad and achieve international fame and recognition, you self-righteous hypocrites “jump pon di wagon” with awards and merits… “Romping Shop” is just as easily accesable to the public as porn sites on the internet (via laptop or phone), R-rated movies or carnival revelers “daggering” in broad daylight, uptown, and also on our local and cable television stations.

Incidentally, has anyone ever wondered why this song is so big? Because everybody loves it! That is the whole bottom and top line. Contrary to what a lot of you self-righteous zealots portray, you are usually actually some undercover freaks of nature, to the point of being into fetishes like “bi”/”try” sexual, Jekyll and Hyde characters.

Ms. Tyson, the “Decent well-thinking citizens of Jamaica,” as you put it, love “Romping Shop”! Only you and a few impotents are against it. At least publicly, and knowing the big hypocrites that you socialites are, I can bet the bank that you romp to this song.

In conclusion, Ms. Tyson, I encourage you to use the obviously plentiful spare time that you have on your hands to stop “policing morality” and write about things that actually affect the nation like, I dunno, probably a light bulb scandal, etc., and stop making much ado about nothing.


Adidja Palmer