Gay Rights In Reggae

By admin Thu, 11/18/2010 - 00:00 Culturereggaegallery vertical

Beenie Man tackles gay rights.

Mista Majah (Major) P is not a household name in the international reggae sphere. But he is a reggae artist who was born in Jamaica and has lived outside the island for more than 20 years. These days he lives in California, close to San Francisco, and his new single, simply titled "Rights" makes a rare departure from widespread Jamaican culture, and takes on reggae heavyweights challenging them to recognize gay rights.

Mista Majah P posted the video for "Rights" as a response to a video story he found on YouTube, which I happened to have written and produced for Channel 9 a few years ago. It breaks down the fallout between dancehall reggae artistes and gay rights activists over incendiary lyrics which heap scorn on gays. Majah told me he wrote this song because as a black male Rastafarian with a Jamaican accent in America, he knows what its like to be discriminated against.

He calls out big dancehall stars like Beenie, Buju and Bounty, who are known for strong anti-gay lyrics, challenging them to a lyrical duel. He says his motto has always been "more conversation, no confrontation." But so far he's only heard crickets from reggae's famous bad boys. Majah says some people have already labelled him as gay, for writing a reggae song that defends gay rights. "But if you are secure of your manhood, you should not be scared to represent something you believe in," he said. "We need to stop discrimination and hate. I'm not in the business of changing minds. I'm just saying, let's have some tolerance. Let's stop this hate."