DONOVAN GERMAIN (head of Penthouse Records)
About the agreement made between gay rights groups and the reggae industry in February 2005. "I think it is a compromise and everybody should take it and run with it right now," he said. "Everybody is starting over from scratch, so we should start over and move forward with the music. The industry is in a no-win situation and we have seen enough of the topic; let us move on now,".
(Jamaica Gleaner – February 2005)



BRICE ROSE (partner in RAS Records)
So RAS records is “trying to put a stop to [homophobic lyrics in dancehall] with a campaign called “Slackness Done.” The company, a 20-year-old icon in the industry with a roster of [widely-respected] artists such as Tony Rebel, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Culture, Israel Vibration, Gondwana and many others, hopes to “sweep away the bad vibes that homophobic, misogynistic and materialistic music has perpetrated on us,” said Brice Rose, a partner in RAS Records.”“Homophobia is a sign of a deeply insecure and ignorant male mind,” Rose says. “I’ve always believed that the more vociferously homophobic a guy is, the more he secretly likes men. So maybe all the homophobic rappers, DJs and club hipsters are really flaming closet cases!”To curb such homophobia, RAS Records is distributing 1,200 brooms to other record companies, the media, artists and dancehall DJs “with a message that it is time for the industry to clean up dancehall music and stop bashing gays.”Name of the article: Is Slackness Done? Cleaning Up the Dancehall
(The Beat magazine – August/September 2001 – article by Tasha Joseph)



BEVERLEY KNIGHT (UK's top selling R&B singer)
“It breaks my heart that people as talented as Buju Banton and Beenie Man feel the need to appeal to the lowest common denominator of hatred for gays” Ms Knight told Newsnight. The star, whose parents are Jamaican, endorsed calls for the police to investigate violently homophobic lyrics which incite and glorify the murder of lesbian and gay people. “It’s just the most base thing you can do,” Ms Knight told BBC reporter Madeline Holt. “As an artist, I am very passionate about people’s right to say as they wish, but as a human being I’m very passionate about people’s right to exist as they are and to be left in peace,” she said.“I think it was one of my friends who said, you know, the hardest thing you can be in this life is to be born black and gay, and to have a statement like that, to have somebody say that to you is kinda harsh. “Most of the people that actually have all these homophobic thoughts and comments, if you sat them down and said ‘okay, so how many gay people do you actually know’, and converse with them, (they’d say) ‘I’ve never come into contact with, not many, if any at all’. And hopefully, by a lot more people, especially the young gay black men… being able to stand up and say “I’m black, I’m gay, I’m proud”, slowly but surely we might see a change in attitudes,” she concluded.
(BBC's Newsnight – August 2004 – interview by Madeline Holt)
Beverley Knight interview



ROGER STEFFENS (Bob Marley archivist, reggae historian)
"It's now reached a point where these lyrics are not only harmful to the music business but pose grave danger to Jamaica's international reputation," said Roger Steffens, a noted reggae historian. And what would the late king of reggae think about today's music? "I think Bob would be righteously angry," Steffens said. "It's everything he never wanted to see."
(Associated Press – August 29, 2004 – interview by Stevenson Jacobs)




CE'CILE (Jamaican dancehall singer)
“Right now I have a song called 'Do It To Me'. It’s about oral sex. We call it 'bowing' and it’s a big taboo in Jamaica. There have been so many songs by men saying it is a bad, dirty thing to do for them to do to a woman, but they're still happy to say that we should do it to them, so I’m like… enough already! Sometimes as a woman you need to come out and be assertive and push and shock people, you need to be seen and heard. It’s true of other things, too. Like I think it’s ridiculous that people are so homophobic in dancehall. I have nothing against people being gay and never will. Men being homophobic are also, by implication, being misogynist to me and I will keep saying that, no matter what.” Such an uncompromising attitude makes Charlton a truly original voice, but freedom of expression comes at a price and has even led to a stern warning from one of her peers that she could be dicing with her livelihood. “I was told that the things I was saying in my songs could mash up my career, but my reaction was that if that was the case, then my career needed to be mashed up,” she reveals defiantly. “If I can’t write and sing what I want then I shouldn’t be singing in the first place.”
(The Guardian – January 2004 – article by Dave Stelfox)

"I don't go on stage and tell people to 'bun batty man', because I don't agree with that at all. I only want to give positive messages, but it is frustrating that the media often seems to be interested in only that aspect of dancehall. My songs are about love, good times - and, yeah, sex," Charlton says with a laugh. "But the main idea is one of people coming together. People need to know that these messages exist, too, and that dancehall is here for everyone."
(The Independent – September 2004 – article by Dave Stelfox) (
article) (other article: Montreal Mirror)
(more comments can be found in the article: Artists react to Beenie's statement – Jamaica Star – May 2012)




BIG YOUTH (Jamaican reggae artist)
"Music is very powerful and I use it to get my message across by signing about togetherness love not boy-girl love. In the record business Rasta couldn't get a foot in, with sound system Rasta could run their own. A lot of these deejays nowadays they need to research and see where the music is coming from. What some of them are signing they are not teaching the people to come together to live and love, some people disrespecting women and promoting guns, hatering gays and that's not reggae music. They need to clean their acts up, realise music has no barriers, it has no language divide. It should bring people together, have all different sounds, suit all different mood, be for all people."
(Mojo magazine Special: Bob Marley & The Story of Reggae – August/September 2005 – article by Lois Wilson)



BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH (Jamaican/British reggae singer)
On the first anniversary of the death of leading Jamaican gay rights activist Brian Williamson (6 June 2005), the poet Benjamin Zephaniah has joined Amnesty International's call for an end to homophobia in Jamaica. Benjamin Zephaniah said: "For many years Jamaica was associated with freedom fighters and liberators, so it hurts when I see that the home of my parents is now associated with the persecution of people because of their sexual orientation. I believe it is my duty to call upon all the progressive people of Jamaica, and those who have an interest in the political and cultural life of the country to take a stand against homophobia." Brian Williamson was a founder member of the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), and one of very few people prepared to speak openly about the need for greater tolerance of gay people in Jamaica. He was brutally murdered on 9 June 2004, and no one has yet stood trial for his killing. (Amnesty.org.uk – June 2005)



DAMIAN MARLEY (dancehall singer, Bob Marley's son)
"It's a funny thing. Reggae is not the big money music. So, when they fight against our music, millions of dollars are not being lost. A lot of rock groups and hip-hop groups who speak against homosexuals in that way, yet they don't really get this fight." He may have a point, but plenty of lyrics appear to advocate "burning" gays. "When them speak of fire it is a spiritual fire," Marley responds, not entirely comfortingly. "Part of it comes from the deejay battling culture and trying to get an immediate crowd response at the dance. But another part comes from faith. The churches all speak against homosexuality. But you don't walk around Jamaica and see homosexuals hanging from the lampposts. It's a spiritual burning and saying that they don't want their kids to come up with that kind of influence." And what about Damian? Does he not want Jamaica's kids (he has none of his own) coming up with a homosexual influence? "They're not a part of my life. Me have more problem with lesbians. Because there's less girls for us. You get me? But homosexuals are not a part of my life, so I don't involve them." I feel like pointing out that working inside the British and American music business means that gays are very much a part of his life, whether he likes it or not. But a hostile stare from Marley lets me know that this line of questioning is now closed.
(This Is London – September 2005 – article by Gary Mulholland)



KAYNE WEST (Amercian Hip Hop artist)
Kanye West, who won international acclaim for his College Drop Out album, told MTV on August 22, 2005 that, the term "gay" is the exact opposite word of "hip-hop" to many. He said that hip hop has always been about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." While he made homophobic comments as a teenager, he now realises the error of his ways. He said the change happened when one of his cousins came out. "It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I've been discriminating against gays,'""Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it,'" he said.”He also drew comparison between African Americans' struggle for civil rights and today's gay rights movement.
(www.UKgay.com) (www.drinformer.cmo)



DONOVAN GERMAIN (head of Penthouse Records)
About The Reggae Compassionate Act. Donovan Germaine, manager of reggae standard bearer Buju Banton, feels that the public has not been properly informed about the contents of the act, and that the media has done a poor job to present the issue to the public.“This is nothing new, we have signed documents not to incite violence against gays in Germany before. You can still say, ‘I don’t like gays’, you just can’t say ‘murder gays’. This is not a compromise by artistes of their ideals, it is merely a way for them to advance their music, and I don’t think any artiste out there really goes onstage to perform these songs to have gays murdered.”“It is unfair that Buju Banton, given his vast body of work, is going to be defined by the ‘Boom Bye Bye’ song which he did 15 years ago, but that is just how it is. The public must understand that the Act does not compromise the artistic ideals of our artistes, it merely says that we agree not to incite violence and hatred against gays,” Mr. Germaine said.
(ClaudeMills.com – June 2007)



JEROME HAMILTON (managing director from Headline Entertainment)
(booking agent for T.O.K. and Spragga Benz, among many Jamaica artists). ABOUT THE REGGAE COMPASSIONATE ACT. Jerome Hamilton urged dancehall music’s detractors to get past labels and check the content of reggae music.“I am sorry that this is still happening and that our music is still being labeled. Our artistes need to rise above this and show we’re versatile and that reggae music is much more intricate than just this particular topic. We must make music that can be sold internationally, and play anywhere in the world without controversy,” Mr. Hamilton said. ‘We have nothing else to sell other than our culture, so we must re-invent ourselves, advance the music, and not allow it to be stigmatized.”.
(ClaudeMills.com – June 2007)



FREDDIE McGREGOR (Jamaican reggae artist)
ABOUT THE REGGAE COMPASSIONATE ACT: Even if the artists signed the document, Freddie McGregor says, he still has a problem with it because of one key distinction he believes needs to be made. Its opening sentence reads, "We, the artists of the reggae community...," but McGregor says such wording is misleading. "It needs to read, 'We, the artists of the dancehall community,' because Jamaica has two genres of music, reggae and dancehall, and all of this homophobia business is a dancehall problem, not a reggae problem," McGregor said in a recent phone interview. "This don't have nothing to do with reggae, so why does the contract [say] that?" McGregor says he doesn't have a problem with the GLBT community. His problem is that reggae is being dragged through the muck when it already has image problems thanks to dancehall.... As McGregor points out, there aren't any reggae artists targeted by gay-rights groups because reggae artists "don't deal in such fuckery!" "Reggae is about peace and love and unity," McGregor continued, "and dancehall is about violence. They choose to go out and blast the gay and lesbian community, and we don't." ... "There's a big lesson in all of this," McGregor says with the wisdom of a man who's been in the reggae industry for 44 years. "It's teaching these younger artists that they shouldn't have said all those things against gays in the past. Leave what doesn't bother you alone, and promote peace and unity." NOTE: Freddie McGregor made similar comments in Jamaica Star , June 2007.
(Broward-Palm Beach's News Times – July 2007 – interview by Jonathan Cunningham) (copy of the RCA)



TANYA STEPHENS (Jamaican dancehall singer)
Many of the sexual topics that we explore in dancehall are really non-issues. We really don’t need to be putting them on wax. Whatever two consenting adults do in their own privacy is nobody’s business. There really doesn’t need to be a song about it. I really think so [laughs]. I just think it’s ridiculous. I don’t need to validate my existence in a club by putting my hand in the air and making a forward about who don’t like battyman or who don’t nyam pum pum. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business. I think whatever a guy or a girl wants to do is their own damn business. I don’t think any of us are perfect enough or even close to it to hand down these judgments and say who should do what. I know that for being taken seriously as an artist, if this is all you talk about, you’ll have an uphill climb trying to be taken seriously. Yeah, because there’s only so much you can say about that and no more. If that’s your biggest selling point, then you have nothing to sell because nobody needs your instructions on how to conduct their sex life. Everybody’s really good at their own sex life. No rules about that. I wouldn’t be following the trends by people who I think are substandard anyway.
(Jahworks.org - June 2004 - interview by Monica Espiritu & Laura Gardner)



CUTTY RANKS (Jamaican ragga/dancehall singer)
QUESTION: do you think those people just exaggerate in both way! whether in the spiritual or in the battyman way just to get the hype?
ANSWER: yeah! exac'ly! jus' like how yuh say it! jus' fe get a hype! dem haffi say 'bun battyman' or talk 'bout gay fi get a hype. but me nah fe do dat fe get a hype! dat is not natural talent. yuh tryin' to get a hype off ah somebody else. ah fool dem deh, man! me nuh rate some bwoy bou'ya, y'know! ina de business, y'know! i don't have to call names, but dere is a lot ah dem weh me nuh rate, ca dem ah punk! dem no know wha' gwaan! yuh see! y'understan' weh me ah say? done: definetly! yes, i know... cutty: an' personally me nah no time fi talk 'bout no gay. everyday 'bout gay, battyman, chi chi man. i don't have no time fe talk about dat shit! dere is so many other tings dere to talk about weh fe uplif' yuh people. what is even more important more dan talkin' about gays an' lesbian an' battyman.
(www.SoundEverest.com – May 5, 2003).
Cutty Ranks interview



FO NIEMI (executive director for Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR))
and CEZAR BRUMEANU (Montreal promoter)
In an open letter to Sizzla promoter Cezar Brumeano, Fo Niemi states, "While we recognize and celebrate the unique artistic merit as well as the cultural, economic, political and social pertinence of reggae in the struggle of the people of Jamaica, and of people of African descent all over the world, we do not believe that by supporting or advocating homophobia and violence against gay men and lesbians, reggae will help maintain its standing as the sound of liberation, justice and freedom. Millions of people around the world have come to appreciate and respect reggae as one of Jamaica's national treasures and as the voice of universal friendship, solidarity, peace and emancipation, rather than the sound of hate, discrimination, violence and degradation of people because of their sexual orientation. "For this reason," Niemi continues, "we do not believe that Sizzla's performance, or the performance of any other singing artist who advocates homophobia and other forms of hate, is socially and legally acceptable in [Canada]. We therefore call upon you to exercise your social responsibilities and show your strong support for justice and human rights by cancelling Sizzla's performance in Montreal." A copy of the letter was sent to both the federal and Quebec Attorneys-General since only they can provide consent for hate propaganda prosecution. But Cezar Brumeanu is having none of that. "The anti-gay lyrics concern me in a way," Brumeanu told Hour this week. "For most reggae artists it's just the way of their culture. On the other hand they must understand they are not performing in Jamaica - they're on the international stage." CRARR disagrees. "We also call upon you to ensure that reggae artists who support, promote or advocate homophobia in their homelands are no longer invited to perform on Canadian soil unless they publicly take a strong stand in favour of equality, diversity and civil rights," Niemi states in CRARR's open letter. As a promoter, Brumeanu says he is caught "in the middle. At [this summer's] reggae festival in the contract it says that performers can't make any prejudicial statements [onstage]. It's in my standard contract. If they do, they won't come back and depending how bad it is [their onstage comments], I'll cut their pay." That didn't stop dancehall act T.O.K. from performing their massive anti-gay anthem 'Chi Chi Man' at this summer's Montreal International Reggae Festival. "Blaze di fire mek we bun dem!" T.O.K. sang. "I heard about that after the show," Brumeanu explains, "and they won't be coming back to the festival." When I asked T.O.K. frontman Roshaun Clarke before his Montreal show if Chi Chi Man is anti-gay, he fumed, "Ummm, no. We've moved on from there. There's more to us than Chi Chi Man." Clearly performers like T.O.K. and Sizzla are increasingly aware that if they want international fame and fortune, they can no longer sing anti-gay songs.
(Hour Magazine – August 2004 – interview by Richard Burnett)



TANYA STEPHENS (Jamaican dancehall singer)
"Homophobic utterances are among the quickest and easiest ways to get a 'forward' [cheers, lighters, and flaming torches]," says dancehall singer Tanya Stephens. "I have seen this industry go through so many phases of stupidity, I no longer even pay attention. It would seem as if it's a moral issue based on our religious heritage, but in the midst of all the 'batty man' burning, many guys handing down 'moral' judgments are openly discussing threesomes they happily partake in with two girls!"
(The Village Voice – February 2005 – interview by Elena Oumano)



RANDY CHIN (VP Records CEO)
About the agreement made between gay rights groups and the reggae industry in February 2005. "This agreement is not about censorship. To interpret it as such distorts the intent and substance of the agreement. It's about consensus, cooperation, and working together on resolving issues as they come up. We've acknowledged there's issues with some songs, but reggae is bigger than that. Neither side has an interest in continuing the 'Stop Murder Music' campaign."
(The Village Voice - February 2005 – interview by Elena Oumano)



ROGER STEFFENS (Bob Marley archivist, reggae historian)
"After Bob died, the biggest star in reggae was this salacious, foulmouthed, homophobic, misogynistic rapper called Yellowman, and it changed the whole tone of the music," Steffens explains. "The music turned so foul, so debauched, I decided I didn't want to be around it any more." About current dancehall dons Beenie Man, Sizzla, Buju Banton and others who call for killing gay people in some of their lyrics, Steffens notes ruefully, "The residual effect of all that publicity has harmed the careers of regular artists who do not harbour these feelings or sing these despicable lyrics. There are fewer [reggae concert] bookings around the world now because Jamaican music has been tarred with that broad brush of homophobia. It has pitted old artists against new artists. I think if Bob was still alive he'd be heartbroken because the music has been cheapened."
(Hour – July 13, 2006 – interview by Bugs Burnett)



CHRIS BENTLEY (former Inner Circle singer/Jamaican reggae band)
“Jamaicans are a deeply religious people. Being gay or lesbian is behaviour that goes against the scripture.”
(The Beat magazine – August/September 2001 – article by Tasha Joseph) (
article partly transcripted)



MAXINE STOWE (VP Records consultant)
About the agreement made between gay rights groups and the reggae industry in February 2005. ""They've won, but I would like to see more summits between gay activists and Jamaicans, especially since the current agreement is fragile."
(The Village Voice – February 2005 – interview by Elena Oumano)



LUCIANO (Jamaican reggae signer)
"I don't put colour in my audience, and I don't want negative dancehall in my thing. [But] I couldn't believe when I went to Europe they were playing songs I heard in my youth. These people , they really love roots."... The uproar over anti-gay lyrics in dancehall has exposed what is acceptable "in de yard" (in Jamaica) compared to international audiences. "Some lyrical content is not what international audiences want to hear" says Cat Coore. Luciano is more blunt. "Europeans don't take crap from these young deejays. Even if [I believe] the [gay] lifestyle is wrong, I do not support killing faggots. You cannot do that or [foreign countries] will lock you out."
(Hour Magazine – July 2007 – interview by Bugs Burnett)



JASMYNE CANNICK (U.S. National Black Justice Coalition board member)
There is no one better to lead this fight than black LGBT people,""White gays and lesbians—while earnest in their efforts—will never be able to affect the black community to move on this issue like we can."Are we going to systematically allow other organizations, by default of their resources, to come into our community and do our job while we stand idly by, continuing to complain that we aren’t seen or heard?" she continued. "At the end of the day, black folks listen to black folks, and if this is truly about mobilizing efforts to stop these homophobic artists from spreading hate in our community, we need to adopt the motto of ‘Our problem, our solution.’" article



DOCTAH X (British Jamaican DJ, co-founder of Black Music Council)
One of X's main complaints is that (Peter) Tatchell has taken dancehall and reggae lyrics too literally. 'Just as "wicked" doesn't literally mean wicked and "bad" doesn't literally mean bad, so "murda" doesn't literally mean murder', he claims. 'It means a challenge, a competition.' He says dancehall artists don't only threaten to 'murda' gays but also each other, especially in 'soundman competitions' where they challenge and sing against each other on stage. 'One of them might say "We're gonna murda da bwoy" - it means we're going to make sure he loses, we're going to make sure he's humiliated. "Kill da boy" comes from the same thing. They use prose, rhyme, slang, metaphor, colloquialism and patois. How the hell you going to turn all that into English?' He takes issue with the claim that dancehall or reggae incite violence. 'They are musicians, not political parties! They don't stand on a platform and preach, "This is what you must do to all gays." They sing songs, people dance, and then they go home. They call it "murder music", but music never murdered nobody.'
(
Can music incite murder? – October 2004)



REBECCA SCHLEIFER (author of the Human Rights Watch report: Hated To Death)
"Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen," says Rebecca Schleifer of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island's anti-gay hostility. Note: the 81-page report 'Hated To Death: Homophobia, Violence and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic' was released in November 2004 and can be found in the EVENTS section of this website.
(Time – April 2006 – article by Tim Padgett)




ROGER STEFFENS (Bob Marley archivist, reggae historian)
Homophobia is a general attitude among most Jamaican males, and it's caused much consternation in the reggae community around the world, because they don't like to have reggae seen as hate music," explains Steffens, a reggae radio pioneer who has chaired the Grammy reggae committee since its inception two decades ago. Reached by phone in Los Angeles late last week, the founding editor of the long-running reggae magazine, The Beat, chooses his words carefully when considering the roots and effects of Sizzla's religious and cultural beliefs."The gay liberation movements in various parts of the world, particularly in England, have begun to take a very vocal stance against the more overt lyrics that rain down fire on homosexuals," says Steffens. "They've been trying to say that this is metaphoric speech, but the brutalization of many homosexuals in Jamaica speaks otherwise." Steffens says that while a lot of artists have gotten the message and promised to not perform homophobic lyrics, they're still being watched closely wherever they perform. "It's really a shame, because reggae is such a peaceful and loving music, and it's become tarred with this brush of homophobia, misogyny and praise of gunmen." He also draws a distinction between roots reggae music and its modern dancehall variant, which is in many ways analogous to the difference between traditional hip-hop and latter-day gangsta rap. In fact, the two cultures are intimately linked in a cycle of cultural cross-pollination. "Rap music really was born as 'toasting' in Jamaica," recounts Steffens. "And then it was brought to the states in the late '70s by people like Kool Herc in the Bronx, who most people point to as the founder of rapping--that's really the Jamaican way of toasting over dub tracks, just put through an American filter. And now the hip-hop style is having a tremendously strong influence on Jamaica. There are, at last count, 18 radio stations in Jamaica, where there used to be two. And they have several cable channels, 24 hours a day, playing these mostly dancehall videos which are filled with violent imagery and calling down fire on batty bwoys and bow-men, meaning people who bend forward to have anal intercourse. So it's not the reggae that you and I grew up with."
(MetroActive – September 7, 2005 – interview by Bill Forman)



PAUL 'BANKEY' GISCOMBE (former manager of dancehall artist Shabba Ranks)

'With all the pressure, Shabba neva apologise, so we not going to back down. Right now, God mek Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. We're not backing down, but at the same time, we need to stop giving them free promotion on stage, we need to stop talk about them and dem dutty life. We know what the Bible seh, and from no guy don't put that to you, we don't need to mention them, just do the works and trod the right way'. M. Giscombe is now managing deejay Cobra.
(YardFlex – September 2006 – article by Claude Mills)



PATRICK ROBERTS (manager of Beenie Man, CEO of Shocking Vibes production)
'I find it ironic that this group is the same one which is challenging discrimination and bias against their rights is the same one which is seeking to limit the freedom of expression and speech of our dancehall artistes'.
(YardFlex – September 2006 – article by Claude Mills)



DAVID ALLISON (member of the Bristish gay & lesbian organisation OutRage!)
(refering to the agreement made in February 2005 between the reggae industry and the gay rights group) Mr Allison had personally been in touch with the French gay groups lobbying against the Garange Reggae Festival in Paris to persuade them to stop attacking the concerts. “We feel it wasn’t helpful that the concert should be cancelled because that implies we are breaking the agreement.” Mr Allison said dancehall singer, Capleton had been ‘extraordinarily helpful’ and ‘positive’ about the agreement and that the campaign against Sizzla has been dropped. “If they’re prepared to abide by the agreement, it’s a bit pointless going on campaigning against them. We have achieved what we wanted to achieve. He added, “we intended to persuade the performers to mend their ways… "Also, given Jamaica is intensely homophobic compared with other countries in the Caribbean [we wanted] to persuade PJ Patterson, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, who is very homophobic despite the fact that he is also gay himself; to do something about changing the attitude of Jamaican society.”
(www.BlackBritain.co.uk – July 2005 – article by Scharene Pryce)




PATO BANTON (reggae singer from Birmingham)
"To proclaim that a certain group of people should die or are going to hell because of something they do, that is not for any man to dictate or judge," says Banton, who draws "90 percent of his inspiration" from a relatively esoteric philosophy called Urantia. "For me personally, I can tolerate anything usually--or most things--as long as they are not harming people. What people do or want to profess of their sexuality, for me, that's your business, as long as you're not pushing it onto me."
Banton also draws a clear distinction between free expression and hate speech. "As far as freedom of speech goes, I believe everyone has the right to express themselves to a point," he says. "I think that the minute you start to denounce a group of people or to promote violence in any way, then there should be a limit put on that." That rule applies, in Banton's view, no matter who the target may be. "If you're saying that all rich people should die, then I would feel the same way as if someone was saying that all homosexuals should die or all Jews should die or all black people should die. If you're saying that the amount of money that rich people have got is not just, then that would be your freedom of speech. If you're saying you don't agree with homosexuality, that is your freedom of speech. But if you start going across the borderline and saying that a certain group of people--because of their richness, their sexuality, their color--should die or should survive, then that can't be right." While Banton's music mostly brims with optimism, the world's current state of affairs has him questioning some very fundamental assumptions. "I was just talking to someone today about how dictatorships have their pros and cons," he says. "If you have a moral and a just dictator, then the precepts of that dictator will be moral and just and right. The majority isn't always right, you know? If you had a majority of Sizzla's followers, and they had the vote, then homosexualism wouldn't be allowed to survive in that society. If you had a majority of racist people voting, then people of color would be in trouble. So for me, the majority isn't always right."..."When Sizzla first came out, he was very dedicated to spreading the word of truth and peace and love," said Banton. "And then sometimes I hear his lyrics and he talks about sex and violence and uses profane language. So I'm not really sure where he's coming from--if he's just going along with social and musical trends, rather than actually having a sincere philosophy or faith."
(MetroActive – September 7, 2005 – Bill Forman)



DENNIS CARNEY (Black Gay Men Advisory Group)
Understanding the root of some controversial dancehall lyrics is important, it is not essential to the BGMAG campaign. He said: “You will always get people who for a whole variety of different reasons will not be sympathetic to respecting the human rights of lesbians and gay men, that’s a given; especially when we’re talking about the black community.” “I’m not here to change people’s beliefs,” he added. “What its origins are, why it is the way it is I don’t think helps in terms of addressing the real issues here.” “Take the politics away, take the Christianity away, all that religion stuff, [take] all that away, we are talking about human beings who are being killed because they are different… That’s what is getting lost in the story here.”
(www.BlackBritain.co.uk – July 2005 – article by Scharene Pryce)




WARRIOR KING (Jamaican reggae artist)
QUESTION: As Dancehall and Reggae get bigger, you do have the fight. There is an international fight against the music. People see some of the music as being anti-human rights. ANSWER: "What kinda anti human—Human rights say everyman has the right for him owna worship and freedom of speech and them thing deh. Reggae music is an expression, and wi always speak wi mind. So a jus maybe dat dem nuh like. People don’t like hear the truth. Bob Marley say the truth hurts, but it is not a sin. A so it go". At some of these major venues, sponsors refuse to work with certain artists. It’s like they want to censor the music, you know.
"The more dem fight wi, the more wi get bigger. All last year, look how much fight wi get, and this year, look how much bigger wi get. Fight mek you stronger. For myself personally, some time you go through tribulation, but it mek mi work harder. There must be something they see in this music that is powerful. This is the first music mi see get so much fight, and is a less publicized music. From mi come a New York, mi nuh see no radio station play Reggae right through—they play for a hour, or two hour, dem ting deh a joke—and yet still it so popular, and it grow more and more. Weh dem fight it so much? That’s why right now mi appeal to the artist dem, have the right attitude and do the right things, for this music is the music that a go make the changes in the world. I strongly believe that."
(www.jamaicans.com - October 2005 - interview by Ms Raine)



ANGELO ELLERBEE (NY African American publicist)
Angelo Ellerbee, an NYC African American publicist who's worked over the decades with Bounty Killer, Shabba Ranks, and others, is openly gay and always states "at the door that this is who I am; you can buy or not." They've always bought. Gays work and party with members of the Dancehall Eight—no problem, mon.
(The Village Voice – February 2005 – interview by Elena Oumano)



QUEEN IFRICA (Jamaican reggae artist)
One of your colleagues, Tanya Stephens, put out a tune called 'Do You Still Care' on her latest album ‘Rebelution' in which she ingeniously tackles the whole homophobic trend that is going on in Jamaica right now. Where do you stand on that topic?
"I'm not going to mince words when I say that homosexuality or sodomy are wrong, but people always have the right to choose what they want to do in life. It's not up to me to go around and impose my beliefs. I'm not going to waste my time to put something on paper that is there to judge someone, I prefer to uplift. Tanya has a very free spirit. She always says what she feels and makes that very clear in her songs. I can't bash her for doing that, but speaking on the whole, there are things going on in the world that are much more destructive to us and we should really be focussing on those larger issues instead of on these things that aren't necessarily the issues we should be worried about. There's the genocide in Darfur, famine in Ethiopia, there's the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to remind people of those issues and keep them focussed. Good and evil were both created by man. It's upon us to choose on which side we want to be."
(Reggae.be – March 2007 – interviewed by?)

NOTE: When performing at The Montreal Reggae Festival in July 2007, Queen Ifrica used her stage time to pass comments on gays using the pejorative term 'Battybwoy', even if she signed a contract with the promoter, saying she would not do so. And don't forget to check out the lyrics of the song 'Keep It To Yourself' in the Songs & Lyrics section... Not really in the same 'vibe' as what she says in this interview.



PETER TATCHELL (member of the Bristish gay & lesbian organisation OutRage!)
“Securing the cancellation of performances by these singers is very important. By hitting them in the pocket, it will help pressure anti-gay Jamaican singers to abandon their murderous incitements. Once they start losing money, they will soon drop their violent lyrics. Driving homophobia out of Jamaican music will have a huge positive impact on Jamaican culture and attitudes – to the benefit of all lesbian and gay Jamaicans. In a free society, they have a right to criticize homosexuality. But they do not have a right to advocate the killing of lesbians and gay men. They has over-stepped the mark. Free speech does not include the right to encourage the killing of other human beings. Incitement to murder is a criminal offence. We want their performances dropped because they endorse violent hate crimes, not because they insult gay people.”
(OutRage! Press Release – September 2004)



SINEAD O'CONNOR (Irish pop singer that made the reggae album' Throw Down Your Arms')
THIS COMMENT WASN'T MADE ABOUT DANCEHALL MUSIC, BUT ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY. "I would transfer the spirit of the song to Catholicism because I am Irish, that is the religion of my culture. There are people who say they represent Christ but actually they preach against love, which is blasphemous as far as I am concerned. The teaching against homosexuality is blasphemy, for example. God created gay people, so who is anyone else to say you should not be gay?”
(Ireland Online – October 2005)

NOTE: I stronly recommand the album 'Throw Down Your Amrs'. It features some of wonderful reggae covers from The Abyssinians, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Junior Byles and Israel Vibration.



BEVERLEY KNIGHT (UK's top selling R&B singer)
“Some people may feel that there’s a certain attitude that has to come with being a reggae fan and that part of that attitude is gay-bashing. I don’t believe that. Reggae is a genre of music – it’s not a lifestyle. I enjoy reggae music. I liked Buju Banton back in the day, I listened to Beenie Man’s Many Moods of Moses, I love great singers like Luciano and John Holt. “But what I didn’t like was seeing talented artists using their platform to gay-bash. Firstly, it doesn’t make business sense for an artist to do that kind of thing, knowing that British society aims to encourage tolerance. “And also, I think black people need to remember that whenever they gay-bash, they’re bashing at least ten per cent of their own community. I know a number of young, gay black men who live a lie every day of their lives because they are terrified of the ramifications of just being themselves. “My friend who died hated the fact that being a black, gay man had to be such a burden for him. So it really breaks my heart to hear talented reggae artists falling into this trap of gay-bashing."
(PinkNews – March 20, 2006)




REGGAE MUSIC EXECUTIVE

A prominent reggae music executive, speaking anonymously for fear his comments might hurt the artists he works with, said that antigay lyrics were also strategic. "It's not that the artists wake up and say gay people are taking over the country and we need to stamp them out," he said. "They're doing it because they're saying: 'I don't have a hit, what can I do that the public can't deny? Let me do another record, find another way to say, "Burn batty boy, stab batty boy." ' '' He said D.J.'s and listeners responded to songs like this because "they can't afford not to." "People could say you didn't respond, you could be gay," he continued. "It's really childish."
(The New York Times – September 2004 – interview by Kelefa Sanneh)



HUEY NEWTON (Black Panther leader)

"there's nothing to say that a homosexual cannot also be a revolutionary. Quite on the contrary, maybe a homosexual could be the most revolutionary"
(Huey Newton speach – August 15, 1970)



IAN BOYNE (writer for The Jamaica Gleaner)

"It is a shame that it has taken people outside of Jamaica to register this decisive opposition to lyrics promoting violence, when people of money and influence in Jamaica have used their money to promote shows which feature these merchants of death under the guise of entertainment"
(Jamiaca Gleaner – October 2004)



CAROLYN COOPER (Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies)

“The problem in Jamaica is that music has functioned to give a voice to the values and in other cultures you don’t have that popular culture speaking in the same way. I think that is what the issue is.” “A parent will say to their child: ‘me a go kill you wid licks today,’ and the parent doesn’t intend to actually kill the child. It is a statement to suggest the seriousness of the offence that the child has committed. It’s not meant to be literal – it’s a metaphor.” Professor Cooper added, “We come from a culture in which verbal power is very important so that people who do not even have guns will be singing: ‘boom bye bye in a batty bwoy head.’ What they are doing is asserting their sense of displeasure with homosexuality. "The talk gives them a sense of power but I believe that the talk is cathartic. People identify with the anti homosexuality lyrics that the DJ is performing that functions in a therapeutic way of dealing with the feelings of revulsion without having to go out there and actually trouble any gay person. It is a kind of collective catharsis. “Jamaican music is being used as a scapegoat. That is an easy route to just say that the problem is down to the musicians. The problem is that the music has gone global and so the messages have gone out too and the music amplifies the messages… people who don’t understand the culture don’t understand that a lot of the talk of violence is just that – talk”
(Pink News – May 2006)



DANCEHALL INDUSTRY FIGHTING BACK AT OUTRAGE! (August 2004)

Note: these are comments published in The Voice, after the British gay right group OutRage! launched their 'Stop Murder Muisc' campaign.

A source close to Buju Banton told The Voice that the artist was contemplating legal action against OutRage! following the circulation of an email that Buju was wanted in Jamaica for beating gay men. The source said: "It is time to go on the offensive. This group has had a free run at trying wreck people's careers for too long. It is time they were taught a lesson."
Clyde McKenzie, a member of Beenie Man's management team said: "If a man says he abhors violence against all human beings why do gays need to be singled out? Such a statement covers all human beings. Gays and straight people have been existing harmoniously in Jamaica for decades. It is this alien intervention from people like Outrage! that is causing problems." In a direct swipe at Amnesty International, he said: "I am concerned that entities that are thought to be reputable are being hijacked by nefarious characters like Tatchell."A Jamaican music industry chief, who refused to be named, said he is putting together a plan to go on the offensive against Outrage!. "I am of the opinion that these people are unemployed and have too much time on their hands. We are going to be hitting them with actions from all corners. They are maligning the name of our country. Let Peter Tatchell come to Jamaica and see for himself that no one is murdering gays. There are gay people at the various levels of Jamaican society who are recognised by the contributions they have made. They are not exhibitionists wearing their sexuality on their sleeves," he said.
(The Voice – August 2004 – interview by Andrew Clunis)




JEAN-CLAUDE PIOCT (president of the french association Actions Gay LGBT)
Nous pensons et estimons que faire interdire les concerts de Capleton ne joue pas en la faveur des homosexuels. Tout d'abord parce que cela ne fait qu'augmenter la haine que certains avaient déjà, et d'autre part parce que cela éveillerait (ou réveillerait) également une forme d'homophobie chez des jeunes (et des moins jeunes) qui n'en avaient pas jusqu'alors. En effet, nous nous mettons à la place d'une personne qui a économisé pour acheter son billet pour le concert, qui a tout prévu pour pouvoir se déplacer et au dernier moment on lui annonce que celui-ci est annulé suite à des pressions exercées de la part d'associations homosexuelles. J'imagine sans peine sa déception mais aussi sa haine envers ceux qui à ces yeux sont responsables de cette annulation. Et l'on passe d'une population de reggae-man plutôt tolérant et qui n'avait aucun a-priori envers nous, à un groupe qui aura des ressentiments de haines. Sans compter que la grande majorité des ces personnes ne comprenne pas les paroles de ces chansons (en Anglais argotique) mais se laisse juste bercer par la musique qu'ils perçoivent. Toute la "publicité" que l'on a fait autour des propos tenus par Capleton vont les inciter à mieux se renseigner, voir les orienter vers une toute autre philosophie extrémiste. Croire qu'en faisant pression sur les organisateurs de ces concerts, et au travers d'eux sur les artistes, les obligeraient à être plus tolérants dans leurs propos est une chimère. Car cela ne fera que les conforter dans leur idéologie, alimentant le feu de leur haine, et ne fera que leur donner l'occasion d'être plus virulent lors de leurs passages sur scène et dans leurs propos publics, de leur public. Sans compter la pression supplémentaire qu'ils exerceront directement ou indirectement sur les homosexuels dans leurs pays respectifs. Notre décision restera donc ferme sur ce point, nous continuons à préférer à privilégier la prévention et la prise de conscience du public plutôt qu'une répression incitatrice de haine qui ne ferait que grossir les rangs des extrémistes quels qu'ils soient en leurs donnant plus de poids, plus d'arguments et plus de forces dans leurs actions.
(Actions Gay LGBT Press Release – May 30, 2005) (
complete press release)



BURRO BANTON (Jamaican singer)

... Burro Banton agrees that while in his heyday dancehall was considered slack, it was not violent like it is today. While he is not fighting against the artistes, as a concerned parent he does not want violent music in his household. "The amount of gun songs out there, telling kids you can kill people and is nothing. That's why we have so must violence. Dem tings must clean up," he said.
(Jamaica Gleaner – September 2006 – interview by Krista Henry)



BERES HAMMOND and MARCIA GRIFFITHS (Jamaican singers)
...Caught in the crossfire have been artists like Griffiths and Hammond, such as when the U.K. festival Reggae in the Park pulled the plug on its entire 2004 edition at London's Victoria Park, costing many old-school acts a healthy paycheque. "That's an area [singing anti-gay lyrics] I never liked to enter because everyone has the right to live," Hammond says. "You need to understand Jamaican culture to understand why these young folks tend to sing that. At the same time, I would never condone singing these songs." Griffiths agrees. "I would tell them to lay off the gay people. There is something bigger than us who takes care of all of those things. Live and let live."
(Hour – January 2007 – interview by Bugg Burnett)




TANYA STEPHENS (Jamaican singer)
Talking about her song 'Do You Still Care?: "By tying the race issue to the homophobic issue I'm making the point whether someone is different by birth or choice they should be accepted for what they are. We need to learn to leave with each other and share the space that's not intrinsically yours, but ours. All discrimination is as stupid as the next; one shouldn't be more acceptable than the other. I felt it my duty to make that point."
(Riddim magazine No.4 – July 2006 – interview by ?)



GENTLEMAN (German dancehall singer)
INTERVIEWER: You say the message is very important, but at the same time you did some collaborations with artists like Bounty Killer and Capleton, who are criticized heavily for their anti-gay lyrics. Where do you find yourself in that whole debate? "Well, personally I don't have anything against gay people. I don't understand it, but I don't have to understand it. But if you travel around in the world, you will find that most cultures don't accept homosexuality. That's their belief. If we now say: "How can you be against that?!", that's exactly the same kind of judgment. What people are doing now is terrible. They say: "Sizzla you can't come to perform here no more because you said something about batty boys in your songs.". That's just foolishness. It's a cutting of the freedom of speech and it's a very dangerous line to cross. Everybody has the right to do whatever he or she wants to do. Personally I believe in Adam and Eve, not in Adam and Steve. That's my personal belief, but I don't feel the urge to put that on a record. A lot of people who don't have a lot to say start crossing minorities, but it's not only so in reggae music. I'm tired of that. It's always reggae that is against gay people, but in fact it's everywhere in the world. It's a deeply rooted belief and we have to accept that. That's my personal opinion. Again, I don't have anything against gay people. As long as they don't trouble me, I don't care."
(Rebelbase.de – August 2005 – interview by Tim Ianna)



ROBERT RUSSELL (director of Reggae Sumfest (Summerfest), a yearly Jamaican festival)
While we don't support discrimination of any kind, Summerfest cannot take on the responsibility of protecting the public from the lyrics being used by deejays. We are more concerned about breaches of the law such as using expletives, which we spell out in the contracts of artistes.We are willing to ask the artistes to tone down on their use of homophobic lyrics but that is as far as we will go. It is a delicate balancing act. There is very little a promoter can do once an artiste enters centre stage unless he is breaking the law. Except for possibly muting the microphone, there is very little we can do. We just can't cut into an artiste's performance unless he is breaking the law. You must remember that people pay their money to hear these artistes and any attempt to interfere with their performance could cause trouble with the fans... As I have said, we are against all forms of discrimination be it sexual, religious, racial or political and we want to make that absolutely clear. However, outside of breaches of the law, we are not getting into regulating public behaviour.
(Jamaica Gleaner – November 2004 – interview by Adrian Frater)



ASSASSIN (Jamaican dancehall artist)
Local deejay Assassin believes staying away from the said topics might mean greater success on the international scene for the average performer. "Your material can't just be for a Third World audience," he said, "artistes have to adjust their material or delivery for the international buyers." Still, he maintains that the anti-homosexual/informer sentiments are, "very much alive," just not in mainstream music."Yuh have fi go some real zinc-fence dance to hear those things,".
(Splash/Jamaica Observer – April 2006 – article by Roland Henry)



TARRUS RILEY (Jamaican reggae artist)
ABOUT THE REGGAE COMPASSIONATE ACT "It don't affect me, dat don't represent me. A nuff show me do an nuh sign it yet, dem ting a jus fi suppress di music. Me is a yout from morning mi mek my message very clear. Rastafari is the ruler of the world, Compassionate Act deh pon dem own," singer Tarrus Riley said.
(Jamaica Star – June 2007 – article by Teino Evans) (
copy of the Reggae Compassionate Act)



WAYNE MARSHALL (Jamaican dancehall artist)
Fellow recording artiste Wayne Marshall says the pressure put on entertainers to stay away from the movement to 'bun-out' gays and informers is a conscious effort to hinder artistic expression. The singjay has come under much flak recently for his latest track, Forgot Dem, which some say has an anti-homosexual agenda. But Marshall adamantly declared that the track is open to a number of interpretations. "What I'm saying is that I forgot them. any man weh switch is not my friend." He added that a different kind of wit must be employed since no artiste wants his international career blighted.
(Splash/Jamaica Observer – April 2006 – article by Roland Henry)



CAROLYN COOPER (Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies)
Guest speaker at Capleton's 'Reign Of Fire' launch. Dr Cooper, in her address, drew comparisons between Bob Marley's music and that of Capleton and dancehall in general. She quoted extensively the revolutionary lyrics of Marley.
"I start with Bob (Marley) because these days it is easy to forget the blood and fire, lightning, thunder and brimstone," Dr Cooper said. "The revolutionary Tuff Gong Rastaman has been commodified and repackaged as our one love apologist for the Jamaican tourist industry," she asserted. "Now, the Jamaica Tourist Board's decision to adopt Marley's One Love to market Jamaica as a vacation paradise is entirely understandable. It is very difficult to use blood and fire to promote Jamaica's tourism product unless one is advertising a sizzling jerk meat festival," the professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) teased to rousing applause. "One of the consequences of our forgetting Bob Marley's lyrical fire is that we fail to hear the similarities between his chanting down of Babylon and the fiery rhetoric of today's militant deejays. "And, I'm not saying," Dr Cooper continued," that Bob was chanting down the kind of fire that we're chanting down now and the kind of chant that has gotten some of our deejays into trouble. That's not the point I am making. It's the fire that I'm dealing with. "Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the UK gay rights group, OutRage!, makes an all too easy distinction between an unequivocally peaceful Bob Marley, and the entire lot of unrepentantly combative deejays... But Bob Marley's message wasn't just peace and love. It was also blood and fire, lightning, thunder and brimstone. Capleton, the self-styled 'Fire Man', is representative of a whole generation of deejays who, like Bob Marley, used fire as a symbol of judgement. But when Bob Marley uses fire, it is metaphorical; when the deejays use fire, they are arsonists," observed Dr Cooper while adding that "in the cultural specifics of Jamaican context, the fire that burns in the lyrics of both Bob Marley and Capleton is an essential element of Rastafari discourse... peace and love, fiery judgement have equal place in Rastafari consciousness."
(Jamaica Observer – December 2004 – article by Basil Walters)

NOTE: To my point of view, there is a huge difference between Bob Marley's few songs that used fire for purification and Capleton's extremely agressive and violent fire sent to the innocent gay community: 'Burn out the chi chi, blood out the chi chi', lyrics taken from the song 'Bun Out Di Chi Chi' (2001). Bob Marley & The Wailers songs that features the fire as purification are: Fire Fire (1968), Catch A Fire (1972), Burnin' And Lootin' (1973), Revolution (1974), Ride Natty Ride (1979) and Chant Down Babylon (1979).



KEVIN O'BRIEN CHANG (writer, contributor to Jamaica Gleener)
ANALYSING DANCEHAL LYRICS AT LARGE: '...So it's the old chicken and egg paradox. Is dancehall merely a reflection of a slack Jamaican society, or does it encourage Jamaican society to be slack? It's always a bit of both. One difference with the past is that our authorities have lost control over what people listen to. Truly violent or graphic dancehall songs never come on the radio. But since they can be heard blasting from roadside bars, open window cars, public buses and at nightly dances, 'not fit for airplay' means little today. You hear lots of songs expressing sentiments that any responsible society would ban from the public sphere. Take Mavado's Amazing Grace "My war is like no other/when me done you have no sister and no brother"; or Lady Saw's "If me get breed me naw mention you name, Just give me de ... and gwan bout you ways". Reflection of street reality or not, how can lyrics like these not encourage gun violence and casual sex? It's hardly surprising that a society whose school buses blare such songs has the world's highest murder rate, and serious teenage pregnancy and AIDS problems. But officials know that any attempt to ban such music on public transport would at best be ignored, and at worst lead to violent confrontations.'
(Jamaica Gleaner – February 2008 – article by Kevin O'Brien Chang)



DESMOND YOUNG (president of The Jamaica Federation of Musicians)
'We're not alarmed at this development because in no way does it spell doom for the music industry. The majority of our artistes are cultural artistes, and what you must remember is that only a few dancehall artistes which the media often focuses on even mention homosexuals in their songs, and I have always believed that mentioning them so often only promotes them. It is unfortunate that this situation has resulted in a loss of earnings for these performers, but they know that once they go into Babylon, they are subject to the whims and fancies of Babylon'. ...'Here is where dancehall artistes have to decide if they are going to choose to not bow, or compromise their moral stance, and accept that they will lose some dollars. This is where we are going to see if they are committed to certain principles or if is just mouth talk'.
(YardFlex – September 2006 – article by Claude Mills)



TANYA STEPHENS (Jamaican dancehall singer)
TRANSLATION FROM A FRENCH INTERVIEW. In her song 'Do You Still Care?', Tanya Stephens put in context a young homophobe that was mostly killed by a rival street gang and is rescued by an homosexual. How did your homopbobic collegues did react to the song 'Do You Still Care'? "None of them came up to me to say anything. People that I know that were making homophobic comments told me that the song touched them and that they have never seen things from that perspective". How did you react to the Stop Murder Music campaign? "I find it natural that gays defend themselfs. It's impossible to be insensible to people who claim your death. But there is a dramatisation, an exageration from the gay community. To defend their cause, they attack the whole reggae industry, when there is only eight idiots that ridiculise themselves with their stupid remarks. I'm part of this industry and I don't think that gays should die... In Jamaica, a majority of people think like me". Capleton states that when he sings about 'burning' gays, it's to purify them..."Laughing... Purify them from what? I found it stupid that people should all look the same. It's ridiculous to say 'I will convert everyone to my beliefs, I will purify everybody'. I am shure that people who said that they hate gays with so much strenght, would like to say the opposite today. But they said it with so much conviction that they would lose their face if they would back up from what they said". Beenie Man is saying that you dislike men. "Not every men, just idios like Beenie Man. It's true that I'm not like the majority of Jamaicain women, I refuse to live in the limits of my small culture. Even if Jamaican is shining worlwide through reggae, we are still a small island folded on itrself. I try to stay as open as possible to the rest of the world".
(Liberation.fr – February 2007 – interview by Stéphanie Binet)



BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH (Jamaican/British reggae singer)
In the liner notes of Benjamin Zephaniah record 'Belly Of The Beast' (1996, Ariwa Records), after enumerating the people that he gave respect to, he wrote: "Me luv many more people, too many to mention but they know who they are. All xenophobes and homophobes I have one word to you: TOLERANCE." Signed: Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah.
(Belly Of The Beast album – June 3, 1996) (When Is A Man Not A Man? – Thoughts by Benjamin Zephania)



RAS BOBO (an openly gay Rastafarian)
In Ras Bobo's ultimate horror, Jagaica— the fantasy gay paradise that, in its heyday, rivaled resorts such as Negril, Montego Bay, and Ocho Rios in hedonistic delectation— is awash in blood. The gay world has been overrun by the third world: hundreds of homosexuals and their sympathizers are "cleansed" in the "mannish water massacre" on the eve of the millennium. "Fire dey 'pon Rome!" Ras Bobo exclaims, deriding the incantation of the homicidal homophobes. "It was foolish of us to believe we could find security here." That will be Jamaica's legacy, as Ras Bobo envisions it in his novel, a work in progress. The advent of the "gay apocalypse," the repatriated Yardie vows, will read like "the missing chapters" to The Satanic Verses. "I spare no one," the openly gay Rasta proclaims. "I expose the hypocrisy of the Jamaican religious elite and the stupidity of the slum dweller in whom the ruling class recruits its most effective 'gay killers.' For that, man, I'll be stoned," Ras Bobo predicts. "My dreadlocks will be sheared from my head and my body will be burned on CNN. " 'Feel Jamaica touch you' ?" Ras Bobo sighs, mimicking the tourist board's mantra, which uses the song Bob Marley wrote to honor the Rastafari concept of "One Love." But to Ras Bobo, the ad's refrain, "Come to Jamaica and feel all right," is "an alluring lie. On which day would a gay man or a lesbian wish to die in paradise?"
(The Village Voice – June 1999 – interview by Peter Noel)



DARRYL JENNIFER (bassist from the punk/reggae group Bad Brains)
.......... (added: October 2009)
"In Rastafari and even in Christianity, they disagree with homosexuality. That’s a known fact." In the same interview, he also distanced himself from his earlier homophobic statements, saying: "So the point being here, when we first were discovering Rastafari – like any young men or any young women getting into anything – you’re overzealous. Back in 1988, I might have been saying, “Fire burn…” I’m 25 years old! You’ve got to understand that I’m a young man growing, getting into something. Now I’m 46 years old and I’ve learned that that’s ignorant. I’ve learned through the years that we’re all God’s children, regardless of your race, creed, color, sexuality, any of that."
(2007 interview – taken from Wikipedia)



SUGAR MINOTT (Jamaican reggae singer)
.......... (added: October 2009)
As Sugar Minott once told me: "You don't have to like (gay people), but you can't tell a person how to live. Your lifestyle is yours. I do what I do and you do what you do and let's call it a day" NOTE: That comment was probably made in July 2005, when Sugar Minott came to Montreal
(Hour.ca – May 2007 – interview by Richard Burnett)



TIKEN JAH FAKOLY (African reggae singer – Ivory Coast).......... (added: October 2009)
What are you thinking of the position taken by some reggae artists manifesting hostilities against homosexuality. "These stands are contrary to the spirit of reggae. Reggae as so much things to denounce and so many fights to carry. To tell in concerts that homosexuals have to be burn, it's shoking” (translated from French)
(Froggy's delight – July 2005)





THOSE COMMENTS WERE ADDED DURING THE PAST 12 MONTHS

PATO BANTON (Jamaican/British reggae singer)
.......... (added: January 2010)
Reggae star Pato Banton, a British-born veteran of the genre, calls himself a “follower of Christ,” and at one point during his recent euphoric show at Petaluma’s Mystic Theatre, urged the audience to spread love to a stranger next to them. “I am fully aware of the Jamaican community’s concerns about homosexuality from a religious point of view, but I think the line is drawn when anyone pushes for homosexuals to be hurt or to be violently attacked,” he says. “Personally, I try my best to live in a way of acceptance. The Bible and spiritual teachings have taught me not to judge.” Raised in Birmingham, where his Jamaican DJ stepfather introduced him to the music, Pato wasn’t immune to similar bigotry. “Everything that was going on in Jamaica was exactly going on in our community,” he remembers. “I had friends in England who [are] very homophobic. It’s the few rather than the more who are accepting. “I’ve tried my best to educate myself about homosexuality,” he continues, “regarding the genetics of someone who’s masculine feel as if they want to be feminine, and vice versa, and through that, I have a deeper understanding. All people are God’s children, whether they’re straight or gay. I’ve got friends that are gay. I’ve got spiritual friends that are gay. It’s only by getting close to those people that you truly understand the depth of what they are about.”
Pato Banton feels Buju Banton is missing out, but he is hopeful for the future. “More acceptance of gayness will be the case in the future, with human progress and human development,” he says. “I believe it will put us in a position of being more accepting and understanding and inclusive.”
(SataCruz.com – January 6, 2010 – article by David Sason)



LEE 'SCRATCH' PERRY (Jamaican producer).......... (added: January 2010)
What do you think of gay people? "Gay people have the right to live their life, and I wouldn’t say that they shouldn’t live the life they should live because they were once woman. After they reincarnate they come back as man. They achieve two different power – they achieve the power of man and the woman. We all are male and female but some of us don’t know how to handle it. We are all male and we are all female in one body; two power in one body. But if the woman in the gay want to live a woman life, let the woman in the gay live a woman life. And if the man in the gay wish to life a man life, let the man in the gay live a man life. I have nothing to say against them".
(Vice – January 19, 2007)



YELLOWMAN (Jamaican dancehall singer).......... (added: March 2010)
During the press conference of California's Ragga Muffin 2010 Festival, he denounced contemporary dancehall for its violent content.... When he finished his live performance, he ended by saying, "Respect one another. But if you can't respect one another, then be nice to each other. But if you can't be nice to each other, then be good to each other. But if you can't be good to each other, then you're on your own"
( The Dread Zone – February 2010 – Jarret Lovell)



RAY J (Amercian R&B /Hip Hop singer).......... (added: April 2010)
Im not a gay-basher (anymore), I now go by the creed “live and let live”. There are homosexual men (I stress men cause double standards say lesbians are somewhat acceptable as long as they’re not butch) I have chilled with that have far better characters than some of you gay-hating people whose life duttia than the sexual acts we see as dirty. But what I hate are those who play the whole playboy, cassanova thing when really they would prefer to be looking at Playgirl Magazine than Huslter. I know that the world is not gay-friendly, especially in black communities, but the fact that these assholes perpetuate this “mi a gyallis” fallacy when they really wanna be a “mannis” is disgusting. You coulda just easy and tek man and no one would ever care, but when you have women lusting after you and you act like you like it, a dem time deh unu fi get buukkaaam!!!.This whole Down Low shit is destroying lives; imagine you have your good good man (or so you thought) and come to find out he’s sleeping with men too. That’s enough to drive a lot of women mad. Why some people so damn selfish man? I mean, I know that its hard to come out when your black and worse if you’re from the hood but fu*kin hell man, keep it to yuhself and stop implicating other people in your bullshit and fakery/fu*kery!!!
(Urban Media Outlet – January 2010)




CE'CILE (Jamaican dancehall singer).......... (added: April 2010)
QUESTION: If you held a very significant position in Jamaica’s government and you had to address the “gay and lesbian” community of your country, what would that be? ANSWER: Damn, there are many other issues more important to be dealt with. I don’t choose friends by their sexual orientation; I however chose not to have any murderer friends, any rapists’ friends, or any pedophile friends. Some of the kindest people I’ve met are gay; you want me to say they shouldn’t have the same human rights as I do? Sorry can’t do. As for morally, damn, the bible says sex after marriage, I’m not married and having lots of it. Plus I wouldn’t dare be in politics, there just no wining.
(WeJamaicans.com – May 2007 – Jud Benjamin) (
other article: Montreal Mirror (June 2004))



SUGAR MINOTT (Jamaican reggae singer).......... (added: November 2010)
QUESTION: Where do you stand with the homophobia in dancehall? Sugar Minott:
"We grew up like that – religion, Rastafari, Christianity – we always against things like that. It’s not because people are coming up with it now – we always been like that. Jamaica’s like that. Myself – I don’t condone violence – people trying to kill people because of their lifestyle – or whatever. We have to live together. Anyway. I would say – leave them to Jah. I even recorded a song – just for the fun of it – then we decided ‘no man we can’t put this out’. It was against…you know what….when all this nonsense came out I didn’t bother to release it". QUESTION: How did it go? Sugar Minott: [Laughs] "If you see a chi-chi man then run - then send bottle and stone after him. Run chi chi man run, with bottle and show coming after him". It's really funny - that's what I'm saying! I'm not thinking that people's gonna take it serious - like they're really gonna do that! I thought - that's a trend - 'let's do something with it.' But it was just for fun, yu know? Stop taking it so serious! Jamaicans say 'Boom Bye Bye' [Song by Buju Banton that details shooting gay people in the head] just for fun, they’re not actually gonna boom bye bye nobody. I’m saying leave it alone. I’ve never committed violence against anyone who wants to live the way they want to live".
(Clash Music – February 2010 – Miguel Cullen)
NOTE: There is also an interesting analysis of this text that was made on the website GLBTQ Jamaica Blog Watch)



ALBOROSIE (Italian reggae/dancehall singer, now liviving in Jamaica).......... (added: November 2010)
QUESTION: In delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2010 International Reggae Conference, Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia Babsy Grange noted that if steps are not taken immediately, Jamaica and Reggae could no longer be synonymous. Here is what she said: "In Europe, for example, there are Europe-based artistes who are singing conscious lyrics and are being used instead of Jamaicans. Many of these artistes have accrued large followings and earn far more than our Jamaican counterparts. At a time when much of the international music industry has become much more dependent on live performances, this is a worrying trend." What do you think about these comments that Jamaicans should be worried about European musicians? ALBOROSIE: Well, Ms. Grange, she's, she's right in a way. Like, promoters they tend to use more European artists than Jamaican artists. One of the problems is the homophobic thing. Most of the time homosexuals, they cancel shows or whatever.
QUESTION: You mean with Buju Banton, Capleton... ALBOROSIE: Most of the time that is the problem. So promoters lose money. So, European artists are less trouble makers. I never go on stage and talk about people like that, division or whatever. I don't want to do it. That's not my politics. I love people, and I sing for everybody. I have no problem with nobody. Most European artists, we live in a society where you don't need to do that. It is not our concern, we don't watch that. I don't watch what you do in the bedroom. It is not my business. I don't care, you understand? Some artists here, they spend time to sing about stuff that kind of... like the badman vibe, gun lyrics or whatever. So that discourages promoters because of the criticsm that's going around reggae and the cancellation of tours and shows. In Europe it's easier. You get a French band that attracts one thousand people, you make your money at the gate, you pay the band, and you're good. Instead flying people from Jamaica, spend money, the next show's cancelled, and lots of problems with unprofessionalism or whatever. I understand that... Only time will tell.
(KUCI 88.9FM (California) – May 2010 – Jarret Lovell)



DAVID HINDS (lead singer from British reggae group Steel Pulse), LUCIANO (Jamaican reggae artist)
and PAT McKAY(Sirius Satellite New York radio personality and programmer),
(Nov. 2010)
TV report where the interviewer goes backstage at a reggae festival and interview Pat McKay (radio programer), Justin Hinds from British group Steel Pulse and Jamaican artist Luciano. The interviewer chose to minimize the debate by asking her question from the sole angle of censorchip. (posted on YouTube on Sept, 24, 2007) (Lenght 4m47) (
ZYNC report)
PERSONAL COMMENT: I must admit, Steel Pulse is among my favorite reggae band. Therefore, I found it disapointing to see David Hinds comparing dancehall singers who promote the murder of gays with Eminem sad, but non-violent, homophobic lyrics. Coming from someone who sings 'Hatered is rejected from the planet dread', I was expecting a stronger position on the issue. Luciano is one of the best reggae singer to come out of Jamaica in the past 15 years. He is one of the few that give justice to the original form of reggae. It's unfortunate that his religious beliefs doesn't allow room for a greater comprehension of diversity. But that's probably the most rational rastafarian speech you can ear on the subject. The comments expressed in this clip are a excellent example on how Caribbean perceive the international pressure over homophobic lyrics: exagerated, out of touch with their culture and a breach to freedom of speech. The Stop Murder Music campaign is not exclusively a North American/European vehicule. Several seems to forget that the campaign agains such lyrics is endorse by LGBT groups from the majority of the Caribbean islands, if not all of them. Caribbean heterosexuals are out of synch with their sexual minorities reality and tend to minimize this conflict too easily. West Indies LGBT groups sees it from a different point of view and take this very seriously.




IAN BOYNE (Jamaican jounalist – analysis of violence into dancehall music) Dec. 2010)
Jamaica’s longest-running televised talk show, a prominent venue that tackles everything from Christian theological issues to politics, Ian Boyne is waging a one-man war against the reggae studies faculty. Furious with what he sees as an intellectual cover-up, he has declared the country’s reggae commentariate a bunch of quislings and dupes. “Intellectuals in Jamaica have been engaged in a kind of psychological compensation for the biases of their class,” Boyne told me in a conference room at the political party office where he consults. “It clouds their view of what I call negative dancehall.” Or, coming to a similar point from a different angle, Annie Paul told me: “There’s a fundamental clash between the ghetto and middle class Jamaicans but they can unite around the issue of homosexuals. In one sense it holds the country together.” Boyne locates a hypocrisy in dancehall commentary borne out of discomfort with Jamaica’s retention of social divisions ingrained from when it was a colony: uptown versus downtown in Kingston, city versus countryside across the island... Starting his battle in early 2008 when he published an article entitled “Dancehall’s Betrayal of Reggae” in the Jamaica Gleaner, the nation’s largest-circulation newspaper, Boyne criticizes professors by name for trivializing violence, inventing a political vision in dancehall where none exists, and trying to confer street authenticity on themselves by defending the indefensible. The way Boyne sees it, this is not just an intramural dispute between solipsist intellectual camps. Jamaica is a small country that takes its cues from a tiny number of public voices, he argues, and the reggae studies department does real damage by refusing to engage with dancehall as it exists rather than dancehall as they would like it to be. “These uncritical defenders of dancehall have not moved from observation to critique. It is one thing to try to understand it, another thing to sanction it,” he told me. “They say people like me ignore the social conditions from which dancehall comes out of. I say the vast majority of Jamaicans living in those social conditions disagree with what dancehall is preaching. In any case I reject this deterministic view.”And the cost to Jamaica, seethes Boyne, goes way beyond just an honest discussion about music. The intellectual dishonesty that begins with dancehall and infiltrates discussion about Jamaica’s crippling social problems has hobbled Jamaica’s ability to contribute to a global conversation about poverty, human rights, and social development, especially during this time of global economic crisis. “The critique we should be making about power and class and world politics is not being made here,” said Boyne.
(
Guernica Magazine – December 2010 – Ilan Greenberg)



CRAIG THOMPSON, ROSHAUN CLARKE and XAVIER DAVIDSON (aka: CRAIG T, BAY-C and FLEX)
(from Jamaican dancehall group T.O.K.)
ABOUT THE REGGAE COMPASSIONATE ACT: International dancehall group T.O.K says they are by no means compassionate towards such an Act either, as they feel it is not representative of them and have therefore come up with their own contract. Craig T says, "while we do agree with some of the statements made in the Reggae Compassionate Act, it is not a hundred per cent representative of the group (T.O.K.) and we refuse to put our signature to anything we will not abide by," he said. Members of T.O.K. say they feel they were being forced into something. Bay-C says, "I never like the fact that they were already attacking us about it even before we signed or knew about it. Is like they were trying to pressure us into signing an wi nuh compassionate." However, Craig T says, it's not that they are rejecting the Act, "I wouldn't say reject, but revise." A section of T.O.K's revised Act reads, 'It is the view of T.O.K, and we are confident that several members of the reggae community and the worldwide musical community would agree, that in addition to the many positive beliefs outlined in the document to which we subscribe, the right to freedom of speech and artistic expression is of equal importance and should not be marginalized.' It continued, 'T.O.K. therefore sees the 'Reggae Compassionate Act' not as a definitive document on these issues, but as a doorway to greater dialogue, where all points of view on the issues raised therein can be heard and respected without the fear of sanction' Flexx, however had a few harsh words for those artistes who have already signed this Act. "Even the fact that some artistes already sign it, wi need fi come together an have one voice, cause a dat dem a use, wi disunity," he said.
(Jamaica Star – June 2007 – article by Teino Evans) (
copy of the Reggae Compassionate Act)



CRAIG THOMPSON and ALISTAIRE McCALLA (aka: ALEX) (from Jamaican dancehall group T.O.K.) Dec. 2010)
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FROM LGBT GROUPS: "There is no evidence that gay right activists have impacted dancehall music in any significant way. I think dancehall music is stronger than any one topic or force, I mean apart from certain artistes not being able to travel to certain parts of the world because of things they have said (in their songs) in the past, I can't say for sure that they have had much impact," Craig T said. He added that it "is a double-edged sword. There is a fine line between freedom of speech and censorship an' is just a line that all artistes have to be aware of and depending on who is listening to the song, it might me construed differently". Another T.O.K. member, Alex, felt that these campaigns only highlight dancehall in the same negative light. "I feel it has a negative impact because they feel that dancehall music is only centred around one topic and it is sad that these people always try to isolate and paint dancehall music in a negative light," Alex said.
(Jamaica Gleaner – October 2007 – Krista Henry & Teino Evans)



JEROME HAMILTON (managing director from Headline Entertainment) Dec. 2010)
(booking agent for T.O.K. and Spragga Benz, among many Jamaica artists). ABOUT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FROM LGBT GROUPS: According to Jerome Hamilton of Headline Entertainment, the constant bans could mean bad news for the music on a whole. Hamilton said that the industry needs to tackle the issue and to define what the problem is, whether it is that these artistes have sung homophobic lyrics or continue to sing and perform homophobic lyrics. "No one can stop the artistes from saying it's wrong. However, spouting violence as a solution to the problem of homosexuality is wrong. There are issues in promoting murder music, which is wrong. Some of the messages are too strong and a lot of it is misunderstood. We don't want people to equate our music with homocentric issues and think there is nothing more to these artistes... They should not be judged by that," Hamilton said. He added that "there are not enough artistes crossing the threshold into American music and right now, with record sales and ticket sales down, we don't need that distraction". (Jamaica Gleaner – October 2007 – Krista Henry & Teino Evans)



DESI YOUNG (president of Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM)) Dec. 2010)
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FROM LGBT GROUPS: While some chose to maintain their silence, like president of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM), Desi Young, who said he had "no comment" on the issue because it was a "tricky issue".
(Jamaica Gleaner – October 2007 – Krista Henry & Teino Evans)



LLOYD STANBURY (Jamaican entertainment lawyer) Dec. 2010)
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FROM LGBT GROUPS: In looking at further possibilities of reaching an amicable solution to the problem, entertainment lawyer Lloyd Stanbury says "I think the solution has to start with honesty on both sides. The gay activists need to demonstrate clearly that their actions are not in fact a strategy to promote and spread the acceptance of their lifestyle and resist any objections that might come from persons who do not subscribe to it". He continued: "On the other hand, the reggae and dancehall community need to demonstrate clearly that they are not in fact promoting violence against gays".
(Jamaica Gleaner – October 2007 – Krista Henry & Teino Evans)



CLYDE McKENZIE (musicologist, entertainment director of Shocking Vibes Production, Digicel Rising Star judge, principal of Fimi Choice Prod.) Dec. 2010)
(Beenie Man was with Shocking Vibes until January 2007). BOUT INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE FROM LGBT GROUPS: ."I think it has to be a case where we open the eyes of the artistes of what opines internationally and they decide what to utter or confine themselves. Different countries have laws and we can't change these laws, so the only thing we can do is build awareness among the artistes. I think a lot of the artistes are now coming to understand that maybe if they want to operate in certain markets they will have to know the guidelines and once you have that kind of awareness then everything will be cool". "I think sometimes the artistes are being penalised for things they say here (in Jamaica) because people (worldwide) can hear your utterances in Jamaica and they judge you and form protests against you based on what is said," McKenzie said.
(Jamaica Gleaner – October 2007 – Krista Henry & Teino Evans)

DIFFERENT ARTICLE: "We have to be very careful about some things," McKenzie said. The fact is, putting certain things in the public sphere helps to normalise them. I have said to my artistes, when I used to manage them, "you see this thing about every day you go on a stage and waging war against homosexuals, it is a stupid thing"," he said. The stupidity lay in the fact that it supported the very thing it was supposedly opposed to, as by talking about it in the public sphere, artistes were normalising it by giving it exposure.
(Jamaica Gleaner – July 2010 – Mel Cooke)

LUCIANO & MIKEY GENERAL (Jamaicain reggae singers) ....december 2011Dec. 2010)
LAURA GARDNER: Neither one of you has come out strongly against the battyman or against Europeans. What is your whole take on the situation? LUCIANO: "I come on earth to glorify my God, to glorify my maker and my Father. I use positiveness and trample Babylon. I use positiveness and conquer negativeness. This is how I see it: some people have negative vibes and we have to just keep giving them positive vibes-tell him about righteousness, tell him about a Psalm in the Bible or a passage that will help him focus… When you're driving on the road, you don't go hunting for potholes to prove to yourself that you're skillful at driving. You seek for good road! You try to preserve your engine, preserve your vehicle and your meditation. You get a good drive; you stay away from the potholes. So I stay away from the evil folks and for people who don't have any love for the Almighty. Right now, I sing songs like [singing], "Word, power and sound, I-man come to shake wicked Babylon down …" How I see it, Empress, is that all the people who are talking about faggots and making battyman music, it's like they are bigging up battyman! You understand? Battyman deserves no space on my album! When I say, "Babylon" or "corruption"-a dem that, mother of all that! A dem that, you understand? MIKEY GENERAL: I agree with the burning of the homosexual still but some of them are taking it to an extreme. Luci rightly says we don't need to mention that. The Bible done states already that people like that deserve this.When we say Sodom and Gomorrah we're talking about them as well as the system that upholds them and allows two man fi get married. LUCIANO: Right now while we are here speaking, there are some governments who want to legalize Sodomism and that is not right, because God created the woman for the man and the man for the woman. So how do they want to mix up man to man and woman to woman? These are the things that cause so much chaos pon the world today-judgment, destruction, starvation. (The conversation about this topic is longer)
(Jahworks.org – April 2001 – Laura Gardner)

TONY REBEL (Jamaicain reggae singers)(Aug. 2013)
ABOUT BEENIE MAN'S VIDEO APOLOGY IN MAY 2012: "Beenie Man a him own man. I'm not here to say if he is wrong or right. If him do things and him haffi apologize then that's his business. Tony Rebel nuh haffi apologize to dem and me straight. Him must know wha him a do why him need fi apologize. Mi nah apologise to no gay, no day, but if him feel fi apologize then that's his prerogative. Entertainers over the years were promoting gays, they claim they were bashing them but they were actually promoting them. If a man continue fi talk bout gays, why him need fi do dat? We have nuff more tings fi talk bout". (The conversation about this topic is longer)
(Jamaica Star – May 2012 – Davina Henry)















ENDORSMENT

Leading figures in the black community have condemned homophobia and backed lesbian and gay human rights. They include Oona King MP, Lee Jasper the Mayor of London’s advisor on equality issues, Diane Abbott MP, Darcus Howe of the New Statesman, music star Ms Dynamite, Keith Vaz MP, Trevor Phillips Chair of the CRE, David Lammy MP, comedian Lenny Henry, Paul Boateng MP, Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote, and Claude Moraes MEP. (OutRage! News Service - June 24, 2004) (
article)

Other leading figures from the black community that have criticize the Jamaican homophobia: Michelle Gayle, MC Shystie (
article), soul singer Beverly Knight and rap artist Mos Def (article)




Last update: December 15, 2011
Comments that I found recently are at the bottom