Rowley calls on artistes to clean up Trinibad lyrics

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister Dr Rowley – ROGER JACOB

The government has no intention to ban Trinibad music but is calling on those in the music business to help “clean up” the lyrics.

The Prime Minister made the plea as he spoke on the issue of music and its link with violence while addressing the media after his return from the 46th regular meeting of the conference of Caricom heads of government in Guyana on Wednesday.

Dr Rowley was asked about the proliferation of songs with violent lyrics and its impact on youths, considering the current crime situation.

He said, “The general consensus is that art, including music, has an effect on the human form and the human condition. And if the expression of that art, that music is one that promotes and glorifies negative in the form of violence, then clearly it ought to be condemned.”

His statement comes days after Guyana president Irfaan Ali said Caribbean music should not be hijacked by artistes with anti-social messages.

Rowley said while the issue has been discussed, banning songs with violent lyrics is an ineffective decision.

“To ban something is simply to make it more attractive to those who would want to use it. In today’s technological world, you can’t ban something like that because you might say you don’t want it on TTT, you don’t want it in a public space, but social media will make sure it’s available to all who want it.”

He said this is a worldwide issue as the ease of access to the internet makes a ban on anything difficult.

“There was a time, if you say don’t print it in the newspaper, that’s the end of that. But now everybody’s a publisher. So that is the dilemma that we are in.”

He said no one should shy away from condemning an art form that “appeals to the derelict nature and our worst condition” and encourages violence as an act to participate in.

Rowley said while a ban may not make sense, there are restrictions which can be put in place.

“While we do not think that attempting to ban, we can restrict in public spaces and on public airwaves certain kinds of tasteless so-called genre.”

He suggested the responsibility also lies with the general public to say what is acceptable.

“We just have to be realistic (and ask) what is happening and not be afraid to say we accept or we don’t accept.”

He added stakeholders in the local music industry must also do their part.

“Those who are in the music business, who understand that damage can be done there, they may be able to help with respect, to put it simply, cleaning up the lyrics.”

Rowley said the region’s partnership with the US has already reaped rewards in its fight against the illegal gun trade.

Noting that all Caricom countries are facing an upsurge in crime, Rowley said an agreement reached after the regional crime symposium last year at the Hyatt has seen authorities seize more than 300 guns destined for the region.

He said Caricom established a Crime Gun Intelligence Unit, which was vital to this success.

“We did have an operation called Operation Hammerhead. It was a three-week exercise that started on September 11 2023, and it was largely encouraged and driven from the US Department of Homeland Security working alongside Caricom Impacs.

“Out of that exercise came the seizure of 318 firearms, 348 magazines and 19,270 rounds of ammunition heading our way. More than likely these would have landed in our territories without this exercise. One can only envisage what that would have added to the horror that we are already experiencing as a result of that exercise and the way we’ve gone ahead.”

He said the exercise had also led to 25 international firearms trafficking cases with indictments and arrests anticipated for several people in the US.