INTRODUCTION Dancehall, a genre of music prevalent in Caribbean societies has captured the attention of many as it has really had a great impact on Tobago’s young men, today. According to www.dictionary.com, dancehall is a popular style of Jamaican music combining elements of reggae and rap, developed in the late 1970’s. Dancehall, like most types of music, is an art form that artistes use to express and relate different events and issues in their lives. This was certainly represented in the early years of dancehall music as the messages predominately focussed on political and social issues. However, as the years progressed, the lyrics became explicit and coarse, eventually, encouraging violence and aberrant behaviour. In today’s society, music is an integral part of teens’ daily lives as, according to www.pediatrics.org, on average youths listen to music for 1.5 to 2.5 hours per day. As such, it has been observed that now, more than ever, dancehall music is becoming the most preferred genre of music amongst teenagers. Consequently, the presence of dancehall culture has infiltrated the minds of Tobago’s youths, significantly widening the gap between modern day lifestyles and past mores. Thus, many core values such as good behaviour, discipline, and nonviolence, which have been established and passed from generation to generation for many years, are being obliterated. Therefore, this research project undertakes an exploration of fourth and fifth form males at Bishop’s high School to determine whether there is a direct correlation between their deviant, violent behaviour and their lewd perception of women and the negative messages portrayed through dancehall music and videos. Moreover, this research is of great importance, as it aims to provide the community of Bishop’s High School with a better understanding of the effects that the dancehall culture has on its young males (15-17 years). In addition, this would raise the awareness among readers of the
wider society about the prevalence of this problem and propose recommendations for a possible resolution.
TECHNICAL TERMS According to www.collinslanguage.com, Mass Media – the means of communication that reach large numbers of people, such as television, newspaper, and radio. Music – the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity. Youths – young people collectively. Dancehall – a style of dance-oriented reggae. Values – the accepted moral principles or standards of a person or group. Behaviour – the manner of behaving or acting.
Figure 1: MAP OF TOBAGO
LITERATURE REVIEW The literature reviewed in this research paper shows that now more than ever, youths in the society listen to dancehall music, as it is the most prevalent form of entertainment in the mass media in the Caribbean and more specifically Tobago. This study posits that the messages portrayed through dancehall music have negatively impacted the values and behaviour of fourth and fifth form boys at Bishop’s High School. The following four literature sources which have been reviewed attempt to demonstrate and support the problem statement. Jennings (2004) in the article, “Dancehall Dreams” explores to some extent the degrading and sexual exploitation of women in reggae and dancehall music. According to this article, “we are all being held hostage by a moral free fall that has now contaminated and corrupted the hearts and minds of our children with vulgarity, lewdness and indecency”. Jennings noted that the negative lyrics and explicit images being promoted through dancehall music and videos are eroding the values of the society and impacting negatively on the behaviour the young people. Similarly, this present research seeks to make a link between the increasing degrading depiction of women and the fading mores of young males and the influence of dancehall music. Carolyn Copper (2004), “Sound Clash: Jamaican Dancehall Culture at Large” captures the ways in which the lyrical content of dancehall music portrays troubling themes such as violence and how reference to guns as verbal weaponry is considered acceptable behaviours. Cooper interprets the dancehall style as a “simultaneously resisting and enticing culture” that has celebrated a culture of “slackness” and violence. The close analysis of the violent dancehall lyrics depicted in this book confirms the need for the ongoing study, as the main purpose is to determine the relationship between the coarse lyrical content of dancehall and the aberrant behaviour displayed by teen boys.
In the early 1980’s the dancehall culture attracted the "rude boys", as drug-related and political violence would sometimes occur at dancehall music concerts. Norman Stolzoff (2000), “Wake the Town and Tell the People: Dancehall Culture in Jamaica” (p. 84) explained that gang members became influential players in the negative impact of the dancehall culture as increasing violent incidents also took place against rival gangs. As such, today dancehall still attracts the "rude boy", now known as the "bad man" or "gangsta youth" since fights and shootings are still prevalent in societies immersed in the dancehall culture. As a result, the ongoing project seeks to investigate and focus on the “rude boy” and “gansgta youth” persona that were highlighted by this author. In the book he explains that the deviant behaviour of young males resulting from the dancehall culture is not a new issue. However, it is an issue that has been present for over two decades and also he seeks to increase the knowledge of persons on the problem. Also, Carolyn Cooper (1995), “Noises in the Blood: Orality, Gender and the ‘Vulgar’ Body of Jamaican Popular Culture” again scrutinizes the lyrics of today's dancehall music. Cooper writes, "indeed music is far less important than lyrics in this genre" as dancehall attracts hordes of fans to all-night jams. Cooper explains, "It is the antithesis of culture", as dancehall aficionados know, this music provides an ‘anything-goes’ forum for its artistes to brag about their indulgence in violent and aberrant behaviour and practices such as gang warfare. In the book, it has been clearly stated that dancehall music has been criticized for its lyrics as they promote gun violence and glorify ‘street life’. Likewise, this current study will investigate the notion that the lyrical content of dancehall is influencing youths toward a life of violence and disrespect for authority.
It must be noted that there are relatively few studies on how dancehall music impacts the behavioural patterns of young males. Therefore, this present study seeks to provide additional information from the data collected from a cross-section of youth in the Bishop’s High School community. It involves learning the relationship of social aspects such as dancehall music that affect the behaviour of an individual to become violent, deviant young males as it will assist future researchers to unearth more in-depth perspectives about the issues related to dancehall music.
METHODOLOGY The present research investigated the relationship of the negative messages portrayed through dancehall music and the impact it has on the behaviour and values of teen males at Bishop’s High School. For this study both primary and secondary research methods were utilized. The research methods chosen were questionnaires, interviews, and reviews of related studies in the study. Primary research was conducted using the data from questionnaires. Nineteen students were chosen by stratified random sampling from Bishop’s High School from forms four to six (14-19 years). A questionnaire comprised of closed-ended and open ended questions, which are concise, unambiguous and relevant to the research was collectively administered to all the students from February 1st, 2010 to February 5th, 2010. This method is appropriate because it will reach a large number of persons and also allows data to be sorted and summarized quickly for reporting and analysis. In addition, data will be collected from a structured interview which will be administered orally to a respondent who is well versed in the current issues being studied. The respondent will be asked questions based on the topic in order to obtain sufficient data. This method is suitable as it will allow the respondent to contribute their own views of the present study. The secondary data will be obtained from the recent literatures related to dancehall music and the aberrant behaviour of teen males such as journal articles, books and websites, as it would allow.... This research proposal aims to contribute to the current literature on the relationship of music and teen behaviour by means of determining the impact of dancehall music on their behavioural patterns. It is believed that the outcome of this study can serve as an epiphany to persons involved and affected by the Dancehall music culture.
PRESENTATION OF FINDINGS The ongoing research project seeks to ascertain whether the explicit messages portrayed through dancehall music have negatively impacted the values and behaviour of fourth and fifth form males at Bishop’s High School. The data collected is being represented in the following presentation of findings.
Figure 1: Column Graph showing the number of respondents who listen to and watch dancehall music and videos. It can be seen from the diagram above that fourteen (14) males surveyed at Bishop’s High School listen to and view Dancehall music and videos, whereas six (6) do not.
Figure 2: Column Graph of the number of female respondents who listen to and watch Dancehall music and videos. Figure 2 shows that thirteen (13) females listen to and view dancehall music and videos while five (5) females do not listen to and watch dancehall music and videos.
Figure 3: Pie - chart displaying the number of hours of dancehall music listened to everyday by respondents. The figure above shows that most persons in the sample listened and/ or viewed on average 1 to 2 hours of dancehall music every day. Also, a significant number watched and/ or listened for 0.5 to 1 hours daily. On the other hand, a minute number of persons viewed and/ or listened to dancehall for 3 to 4 hours and 5+ hours daily.
Figure 4: Pie – chart showing percentages of the Influence of Dancehall. It can be seen from Figure 4 above that the majority of the respondents, 32% both disagree and strongly agree that the influence of dancehall is negative. Conversely, 26% agreed with this statement whereas, 10% strongly disagreed.
The moods of respondents while listening to Dancehall music. Question 1.
Responses In high spirits
Number of Male
Number of Female
listening to dancehall
music, which of the
best describes your mood?
Positive/Fulfill ed I don’t listen to dancehall music
Table 1: Table displaying the moods of respondents while listening to Dancehall music. From Table 1, it can be observed that the majority of the males, four (4) are in high spirits when listening to dancehall. Also, two (2) and one (1) of the male respondents are relaxed and positive/fulfilled respectively. However, only one (1) is angry/ aggressive and another one (1) does not listen to dancehall. For the females, the vast majority, five (5) are in high spirits. Two (2) females are relaxed whereas, three (3) don’t listen to dancehall. Conversely, zero female respondents are angry/ aggressive or positive/ fulfilled while listening to dancehall music.
The views of persons based on whether or not there are negative messages present in Dancehall music/videos. Strongly Disagree 1
Strongly Agree 12
Table 2: Table showing whether or not persons believe that there are negative messages present in Dancehall lyrics. Based on the tabular data above, the majority of persons strongly agree with the statement that there are negative messages in the lyrical content of Dancehall music. An additional three (3) persons agree whereas, one (1) person and three (3) persons strongly disagree and disagree respectively.
The views of respondents on whether or not they have become violent since beginning to listen to Dancehall music. Strongly Disagree Disagree Agree Strongly Agree Don’t listen to Dancehall 8 5 2 1 4 Table 3: Table showing whether or not they have become violent since beginning to listen to Dancehall music. It can be seen from the table that eight (8) persons strongly disagree with the statement while five (5) disagree. Conversely, one (1) person strongly agrees and another two (2) persons agree.
Figure 5: Doughnut – Graph displaying the percentages of the knowledge of noted aggressive young males whose preferred genre of music is dancehall. From Figure 8, a significant percentage, 95% of the respondents know of noted aggressive teen males who prefer Dancehall music whereas only 5% of respondents do not.
Figure 6: Bar – graph showing whether or not persons believe that dancehall encourages violence or the degradation of young women. The graph above indicates that the majority of people, 17 and 14 believe that dancehall fosters violent behaviour and the degradation of young ladies respectively. However, only two (2) and five (5) persons do not believe this.
Figure 7: Doughnut – Graph displaying the knowledge that young males regard dancehall artistes as role models. It can be seen above that all the respondents, 100% have knowledge and believe that teen males regard Dancehall music artistes as role models.
Figure 8: Pie – chart showing the belief that there should be ban on Dancehall lyrics which degrade young women and promote violence. Figure 11 indicates that a significant percentage of persons, 63%, think that dancehall music which encourage violent behaviour and the degradation of young ladies should be prohibited. Whereas, 37% believe that it should not be banned.
INTERPRETATION OF FINDINGS The vast majority of the respondents interviewed (58%) believed that Dancehall music and videos portray explicit messages of violence and degrading of young women which can have a negative impact on the listening and viewing audience. For the most part, figure 6 clearly shows that persons (82%) are aware of the problems associated with the Dancehall music culture. In that, they believe that these lyrics promote violent, deviant behaviour among young males and have a lewd perception of women. This was further reinforced during the interview conducted with Ms. Keisha Jack, a Teacher III at Bishop’s High School. She stated that in many dancehall songs “women are seen as objects, whose mere purpose is solely for her male counterpart’s sexual pleasure and satisfaction”. Also, she said that, “The issue of the violence is further escalated with the mention of rival factions within the music, promoting the undesirable culture of gangs and cliques”. Conversely, a minority of students (42%) think otherwise. As such, they do not believe that dancehall music has a negative influence which can encourage violence and the degradation of women. The data collected and displayed in figures 1 and 3 evidently indicates that the majority of young males (70%) at Bishop’s High School prefer dancehall music and videos. Also, 53% of these students usually enjoy this genre of music from 30 minutes to more than 5 hours daily. However, a minority, 30% do not enjoy dancehall but would rather listen to R&B, Gospel, and even Rap/Hip Hop. Moreover, an immense majority of the sample at Bishop’s High School (95%) has some knowledge of violent males who listen to dancehall as their preferred genre of music. Whereas, a minute, 5% of the respondents do not know of aggressive males.
On the contrary, the students interviewed do not think that the presence of negative messages in dancehall affect their moods or behaviours personally. A significant majority, 74% said that they were would describe their mood as either in high spirits, relaxed or positive/fulfilled while listening to dancehall music. Another 68% disagreed with the statement that they had become more aggressive/ violent since beginning to listen or watch dancehall. Most of the respondents in the sample exhibited awareness of the negative impact the explicit lyrical content of dancehall can have on the youth. An immense majority attributed the presence of deviant behaviour among teen males and the degradation of young women to the prevalent Dancehall music culture. A number of students noted that dancehall has obliterated the values of young males insinuating their minds and causing violent and lewd behaviour.
DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS The present research showed that the lyrics of Dancehall music have influenced young males in that there is an increase in the degrading depiction of women and the diminishing of the past mores. This supported Jennings (2004) in his article, who stated that dancehall music has polluted the hearts and minds of young males with vulgarity, lewdness and indecency. Both the current research and Jennings’ article clearly noted that the negative lyrics and explicit images being promoted through dancehall music and videos are eroding the values of the society and impacting negatively on the behaviour the young people. The sample of students of Bishop’s High School along with, the interviewee, Ms. Jack believe that the negative influence of violent, coarse dancehall lyrics is a driving factor for the presence of deviant behaviour as outlined by Cooper (2004). Both the book and the ongoing research captures the ways in which the lyrical content of dancehall music promotes an undesirable culture of violence and also, glamorises what is considered unacceptable behaviours. Moreover, the current research did indicate that the dancehall music culture acts a forum for its artistes to brag about their indulgence in violent and aberrant behaviour and practices such as gang warfare as explained by Cooper (1995). This was unambiguously outlined during the interview with Ms. Keisha Jack (Teacher III at Bishop’s High School). She stated that the dancehall lyrics are “the free expression of the artiste” and “that violence and obscenity are now seen as commonplace and quite normal”. On the contrary, this research failed to display the presence of gang fights and shootings amongst young males at Bishop’s High School which was captured by Stolzoff (2000) in his book. Despite this, the research denoted that the vast majority of the sample believe and have knowledge that young males admire Dancehall music artistes.
CONCLUSIONS/ LIMITATIONS/ RECOMMENDATIONS In general, the young males at Bishop’s High School are negatively influenced by the coarse, explicit lyrical content of Dancehall music. It was established that these lyrics have played an important role in the presence of aberrant, violent behaviour among teen males and the degradation of young women. It was further noted that the dancehall music culture has infiltrated the minds of the teen males at Bishop’s, eventually obliterating the core values that this society has deemed important, for many years. However, a significant majority of the sample did not believe that there personal moods or behaviours are adversely impacted by the negative messages in dancehall. It was interesting to note that there is a direct correlation between the messages portrayed in dancehall and the behaviour of young males as proposed by Jennings (2004). The current research and Jennings’ article both, unambiguously point out that the coarse lyrics and lecherous images being portrayed in the dancehall music culture are polluting the teen males’ minds even, influencing indecorousness, lasciviousness and vulgarity. As such, there has been an immense increase in the degradation of young ladies and the declining morals of teen males at Bishop’s High School. The present research was a small preliminary survey of one school in Tobago. This school was chosen because it was easily accessible by the researcher. As a result, this study is limited by the minute sample size, and so it would be difficult to make generalizations about all the young males in Tobago based on the data collected. Also, the instruments which were utilised in the current study caused the data collection process to be time consuming. As such, a great of time was spent administering the interview and locating persons from the sample who were willing to fill in the questionnaires.
In addition, this study did not examine all the aspects of the dancehall music culture. It did not investigate the effect this genre of music has on the dress and speech/ communication styles (e.g. slangs, jargons) of young males. It is believed that such information would have given a more detailed representation of the effects of the dancehall culture. The presence of violent and lewd behaviour among young males as a result of the explicit lyrics and images of dancehall music indicates that there is a need for the prohibition or at least the censorship of these lyrics. The relevant authorities need to take adequate action in order to prevent the dancehall culture from obliterating the mores and ideologies of teen males. On the contrary, the government should implement various initiatives that would motivate artistes to write lyrics which would positively impact the youth, as their influence on youth is powerful. In addition, the wider society of Tobago and the relevant stakeholders need to contribute and take an integral part in the moral education of youth, not just by preaching acceptable mores but by being exemplary.