Mateel Promises to ‘Pull the Plug’ on Sizzla’s Performance if He Uses ‘Derogatory Speech’
Just as Reggae on the River is set to begin a festival of love and light today, a controversy pushed headliner Sizzla on the stage of a discussion about what is acceptable behavior. Sizzla (along with 10 other reggae musicians) was refused a visa to the United States because his lyrics advocate violence towards homosexuals. However, Sizzla was recently given a visa and Reggae on the River is his first venue.
Sizzla released Nah Apologize in response to calls for him to dial back on his songs advocating death for gays or batty boys. In it he declares, “Rastaman don’t apologize to no batty boy/If yuh diss King Selassie I, mi gunshot yuh boy.” (Oddly, just a few lines before, he proclaims, “Ras Tafari just throw forth his love and kindness in the morning and the faithfulness/Every night.”
Today, Justin Crellin from Reggae on the River responded to the stories. He wrote,
Please note that Sizzla has been booked on the show since we first announced the line-up over 5 months ago- and we received no concerns about him being on the bill until very recently- despite a great deal of local publicity. That said, we now recognize there are concerns within the community about his appearance on the show.
We have an assurance from management that no derogatory speech will occur and have protocol in place to pull the plug on his performance should anything like this happen. We will also be posting a values statement at our artist merchandise booth and will be talking from the stage (and in our press tent) encouraging our audience to sign this document with the intent to share it with his management and send a message about where we stand as a community and to underscore what we expect from our artists- with the ultimate goal of fostering real dialogue on an issue that is sadly pervasive in Jamaican culture.
To this end, we will also be utilizing funds from our 2016 Ambassador Program- which funnels 10% of funds from our Ambassador ticket sales to global charities related to reggae culture- to directly support the work of an NPO in Jamaica that is working to combat this issue and foster tolerance and understanding regarding the LGBTQ community.
Tune in Saturday as the show is being livestreamed to see what happens when Sizzla sings.