Glorification of gang culture is—and has always been—a distinguishing feature of Trinibad music.
Raw and explicit lyrics and videos depicting violence are key components of this gritty, street-driven dancehall-inspired genre that has broken out of its underworld confines to attract considerable attention and notoriety.
The music’s success, measured in the number of uploads on platforms like YouTube, is without question.
Locally and regionally, Trinibad artistes have been getting a lot of attention, as much for their music as for the lifestyle and culture they portray.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that law enforcement agencies in some jurisdictions are now taking action out of concern about possible threats to public safety.
The decision by the St Kitts and Nevis Police Force to ban Kman 6ixx, a rising star on the Trinibad circuit who was due to headline a concert there in March, is the latest push back from a regional authority to the music and its proponents.
Their concerns about his music’s explicit endorsement of violence and promotion of criminal activities, were the same reasons given by the authorities in Grenada to restrict the artiste from performing at a 50th independence anniversary concert there this week. Preceding the outright ban, there had been an outcry from the Grenadian public.
However, cancelled performances might be the least of the problems facing Kman 6ixx, who was in police custody here in T&T at the time that the St Kitts ban was made public.
His management team did not disclose the reason for his detention but the TTPS yesterday revealed he had been charged with being a gang member and for possession of ammunition. The artiste has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons of late, prominent among them a deadly attack in St Augustine in December in which three of members of his entourage were killed. Kman 6ixx was also the apparent target in another fatal shooting in October on Ariapita Avenue, part of a disturbing trend in recent years where Trinibad artistes have either been killed or attempts made on their lives.
Not too long ago, at the height of his fame, Kyle “Rebel Sixx” George, was shot dead at his home in Bon Air Gardens, Arouca. In another incident, Bridget James was killed by bullets intended for her boyfriend, Trinibad artiste Kalonji Arthur, in the parking lot of The Brix Hotel in Cascade.
However, deadly violence has not deterred the music, which has been sweeping the country and continues to have a massive influence on our youth population.
Therefore, like their counterparts in St Kitts and Grenada, law enforcement here has many reasons to be concerned about the increasing reach of this niche subculture across T&T.
Like the gangster lifestyle it glorifies and promotes, the music is solidly based in this country’s working class “hot spot” communities.
Anecdotal information suggests that some Trinibad music videos have triggered conflicts among warring criminal gangs that escalated into shootings. The growing popularity of music with less than subtle messages promoting violence, aggression and conflict, says a lot about the state of T&T society and the urgent need for interventions to reverse that downward spiral.
It has been argued that Trinibad, like dancehall, hip-hop and other genres, provides musical expression for the oppressed, powerless, vulnerable and underrepresented, and can be shifted in a more positive direction.
So far, however, that positivity isn’t apparent and in a nation wracked by violence, that is a serious cause for concern and reason for action.