Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Homophobic Jamaican musicians play TO

Stop Murder Music founder says he's disappointed

THE DEBATE RAGES ON. Dancehall artist Beenie Man is still under attack for his violently homophobic lyrics. Credit: Ajay Bikram Thapa

After months of cancellations and controversy about lyrics, homophobic Jamaican musicians are performing in Toronto again.

Capleton performed at Kool Haus on Jun 14 and Beenie Man is scheduled to perform there on Fri, Jul 11. Both artists had shows cancelled in southern Ontario in November and December of last year following protests. Kool Haus cancelled shows by dancehall artists Sizzla and Elephant Man in October of last year.

Akim Larcher, the founder of Stop Murder Music Canada (SMMC), says he is surprised that Kool Haus CEO Charles Khabouth changed his stance.

“We’re disappointed that Charles has taken the stand he has, knowing that June is a celebration of our queer culture and history,” says Larcher. “We’ve given him a lot of queer dollars. I will never go to Kool Haus ever again. Chaka Khan is playing there and I adore Chaka Khan. But I will not go.”

Last year Khabouth issued a statement about Elephant Man saying, “Had I been aware of the nature of the lyrics, I would not have allowed the booking…. I was persistent and wanted to make it clear I was not comfortable with this show at the Kool Haus and I in no way support the musician or his lyrics.”

This time Khabouth emailed a reply stating, “There is often controversy surrounding many popular artists…. In the past I have cancelled several shows after discovering explicit or offensive content in the artists’ material. Unfortunately the events still take place at another location, sometimes resulting in a violent ending.

“The safety and security are my utmost priority in all my venues. In recent years I have taken pro-active measures. All booking inquiries at my venues are taken under the advisement of the Toronto Metropolitan Police prior to any discussions between the venue and the promoter/booking agent. If and when the artist is cleared by the police, we begin negotiations.

“In addition artists who perform are required to sign a disclaimer out- lining our no- tolerance policy toward hate lyrics, discrimination and/or defamation of another’s character or beliefs. I regret any insult felt by the community and I am committed to providing a safe and positive environment for everyone.”

Larcher says the artists still perform the controversial songs in other concerts and still sell them on albums.

“These agreements are not worth the paper they’re written on because these artists have continued to perform these songs in Jamaica and the Caribbean and have continued to profit from the sale of these songs,” he says.

Larcher says SMMC has sent a letter to immigration minister Diane Finley asking that the artists be banned from Canada for violating hate speech legislation.

“We haven’t heard back from her,” he says. “I expect that, as before, they’ll say they’re allowed in as long as they don’t break the law. As far as I’m concerned it’s a lot of bullshit.”

Capleton has songs like “Give Har” which includes the lyrics “Shoulda know seh Capleton bun battyman [You should know that Capleton burns queers]/ Dem same fire apply to all di lesbian [The same fire applies to lesbians]/ Seh mi bun everything from mi know seh dem gay [Say I burn everything as long as I know that they’re gay]/ All boogaman and sodemites fi get killed [All queers and sodomites should be killed].”

Beenie Man has songs like “Han Up Deh” with the lyrics “Hang chi chi gal wid a long piece of rope [Hang lesbians with a long piece of rope]” and “Batty Man Fi Dead” which means “Queers must be killed” and contains the lyrics “From you fuck batty den a coppa and lead [If you fuck ass then you get copper and lead].”