by Jodee Brown
Since his incarceration on murder charges a little over two years ago, embattled Dancehall superstar, Vybz Kartel has not refused any opportunity possible to speak out against the system which currently holds him inHorizon Remand Centre, nor his true feelings regarding his former friends and protégés.
However, unlike past press releases, poems and handwritten notes where he voiced his typically polarizing opinion, Kartel gave a rare interview to United Kingdom news publication, The Voice Online, published Tuesday in its mother publication, the JamaicaGleaner.
In the interview, the self-professed ‘Worl’ Boss,’ gave an in-depth look into his daily prison routine and his thoughts on the ongoing case against him. He also assessed the ongoing state of Dancehall music, claiming that since his September 2011 arrest, the genre he helped build into a worldwide phenomenon has been in steady decline.
“Dancehall is in jail,” he told The Voice. “Although the fact remains that if I die tomorrow, dancehall will continue, it’s also a fact that the next artiste to bring the energy, panache, and ‘vybz’ to dancehall, isn’t here yet.”
He says he is unimpressed with todays’s crop of young deejays and says Reggae’s revival in recent times has been because music lovers are growing tired of hearing repetitive lyrics and styles throughout the genre.
“Look for yourself,” he said. “Since I’ve been in jail, reggae has taken over because it’s a refreshing alternative to dancehall for the young kids who realise the artistes of dancehall are just recycling Kartel lyrics and flow. It’s pathetic.”
Kartel says he remains strong as he awaits trial on his second murder charge in November. He says while it is not an ideal situation, he has found means to cope and adjust to life behind bars.
“I’m in the highest spirit, thank you. In here, everything is a repetition wake, bathe, lock down again. Eat, sleep, repeat. I feel like a robot,” he said. “But iin my cell, I have countless books to read and I also write, too. That’s how I pass my days, occasionally watching TV. I am always occupied, so that kinda keeps me focused.”
He also took another shot at the legal system in Jamaica, saying, “I have to thank my fans for being my fans and/or for supporting me, and let them know that this injustice system of Jamaica is the reason why I’ve been here so long without trial or bail.
“The police say I can’t get bail because I’m a flight risk. They say I’ll abscond. Wow! Where’s the Privy Council when you really need them?” he asked.
Despite being imprisoned, Kartel is promoting his new, 60-track album, Kartel Forever: Trilogy which features a combination of unreleased and classic material. He is also promoting the album version of his highly-regarded book, Voice of the Jamaica Ghetto: Incarcerated, But Not Silenced.
He hopes to be released from prison in time for Christmas, saying he intends to spend time with his family whenever he does get out.
“Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I put family over everything. Then after that, music!” he said.