It was written. Vybz Kartel’s long-awaited book, The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto went on sale this week. And as predicted, it’s stirring up plenty of controversy. The cover image portrays Kartel in a pose reminiscent of Malcolm X—except that he’s wearing a Masonic ring instead of the emblem of the NOI, and Malcolm X didn’t sport GAZA tattoos on his fingers or teardrop tattoos by his eyes. Subtitled “Incarcerated but not Silenced,” the book does not address the murder charges that landed Kartel behind bars last year, but it does lash out against all types of injustices in Jamaican society. During an interview last year, Kartel predicted that this book would land him in hot water: “This book is gonna be such a dagger in the heart of society that Kartel’s life and freedom is going to be in jeopardy after this book is released. Show how society treats us a poor people. It’s going to be an in-depth look into police brutality. It’s gonna touch on religion, abortion, incest, oral sex in Jamaican society. It’s gonna be so true to life that I think my life is gonna be in jeopardy, or my freedom.”
When we pointed out that his music speaks on a lot of those same topics, Kartel strongly agreed, and shared the fact that he had beens studying Jay-Z’s book Decoded.
“Each chapter is named after a song and each chapter is an in-depth look. Where religion came from, where Christianity came from. What Christianity has done. How it is used to exploit. It’s gonna be… Rob, I’m telling you man, It’s gonna cause a lot of problems. I’ve got Jay-Z’s Decoded right here in front of me. It’s crazy man. I got it about three weeks ago. I’ve been reading it. ‘Wasn’t born hustlers, I was birthing em.’ Page 39.”
Here’s an excerpt from the author’s foreword: “As strange as it may sound, I hope you do not enjoy this book. I hope it distubrs you. hope after reading you realize there is something wrong with Jamaica that needs to be fixed… I hope you will never look at a ghetto person the same again. I hope you will never see a young girl in a compromising position with an older man and not question what is going on. I hope you will never see a young man in jail and write him off as ‘wutless’ or bad… Most importantly, I hope that you will not only hear but listen to the voice of the ghetto. I end in the words of Marcus Mosiah Garvey—One God, One Aim, One Destiny. One Love. Until we meet again, I remain, yours truly. —Adidja Azim Palmer – Theresa’s son