“Bad man life nuh nice. Mi pay di price. When yuh go a jail, no bail…the judge say thirty years to life. It jook mi like a knife! Breddah, kyaaan believe a suh it unfold. No parole. Mi a go live an die in dis place. Wata run dung mi face. Nah go see mi daughta, mi baby madda…haffi loyal to mi breddah. Still nah go a mi yaad. Survive anadda day…tank ya laad. Cuz prison neva mek fi daag, prison neva mek fi daag….”
People talk a lot about how dancehall is a negative influence on the lives of the youth in Jamaica. I’ve heard concerned parents, teachers and citizens alike complain of how much young people, most especially boys, look up to Vybz Kartel, Alkaline and the like in void of a strong, positive male presence in their lives. While I do believe that it’s a bit escapist to blame the disconnectedness of young men in Jamaican society on dancehall music and it’s foolishly idolized champions, it would be naïve to assume that the music and it’s culture are not at all influential.
“Prison Life” starts off with an emotionally wrought poem told from the perspective of a man in prison. The prisoner bemoans the life he’s missing on the outside, having to keep the right loyalties to survive “anadda day” in prison, still in shock of his sentence.
I-Octane’s message is loud and clear. The chorus sings, “try nuh come ya, chaagie,” or try to stay out of prison. (Chaagie is a Patois term used much in the same way as “boss” or “bro” are used in the US – it’s a term indicating friendliness with the person to whom you are speaking, usually between males.) He is encouraging his friend, or in this case his fan base, to work hard to stay out of prison. As glamorized as the gangster life might be, it’s not worth it; it’s a short-lived life.
Music can be a really powerful tool for change, especially in a place like Jamaica where everything from church sermons to election announcements to furniture sales is conveyed through song. I-Octane is taking advantage of his global stage to advise the youths against this life-stalling path, to influence them to try something more worthwhile.
Check out the powerful video here:
I-Octane is a reggae and dancehall artist. He is well known for his socially conscious lyrics, or “conscious music” and often uses his music to spread positive messages.
Also, this is my 100th post on Two Years pon di Rock. It’s been nearly two years since I arrived inna Jamdung! Thanks to those of you who have been following my journey from the start and to those who have joined in along the way. Sharing my stories of Jamaica with you has helped me to make sense of my life here. I have come to appreciate all of the experiences that led me to this point. Writing about my frustrations, celebrations and everything in between has helped me to slow down and think really critically about the things that take place in my daily life. I feel so fulfilled.
Perhaps a name change for this site is in order… As some of you may know, I’ve officially accepted a position as the Volunteer Leader for the education sector, meaning I’ll be in Jamaica until summer 2017! I’m so excited to continue living in such a complex, rich culture and to grow even more personally and professionally. Stay tuned because I am far from finished. Bless up! Mi luv unu baad!