When pressed about which of his pieces was the most popular in his repertoire he named ‘Dem Man Deh’ (those men over there) which is a subtly layered piece emphasis the supposed abhorrence of male homosexuality and by extension anal penetration. The religious/biblical fundamentalist anti-homosexuality imperative is twinned here with the Christian Leviticus initiative in anti gay advocacy; a rare combination given Rastafari’s opposition to a European construct of God and the bitterly opposed Catholicism by rastas as well. But for purposes of opposing homosexuality the lines are deliberately blurred to effect same. Old beliefs that the Catholic church having same gender sex in its midst also has many Rastafarians very caustic towards the papacy. DYCR was obviously beaming after the DJ working with the show’s host played the track in full as he then proceeded to explain the reason for writing the track, the usual twinning of homosexuality and unclean living/sex was emphasized showing up the usual blind fury of opposition to something he is and others are yet to comprehend.
Here is the piece called "A Fire" firstly, listen to the emphasis placed on the line ‘Gash a Fyah where he hits out at oral sex, the actual Dem Man Deh Track is hard to find online nowadays but it is played on radio still especially IRIE FM:
Homosexuality is constituted straightforwardly as a sin in the eyes of God (Jesus or Haile Sellasie dependent on who or which group) and therefore also in the view of self-perceived good and/or godly persons. It is agreed that omniscient Jehovah repeatedly declares homosexuality to be a sin in both the Old and New Testaments and that the Almighty would neither misrecognize nor misname a physical and/or emotional illness as a condition of sin. The idea that homosexuality is an illness (whether congenital or otherwise) represents the negative reading of the claim that lesbian and gay persons generally had their sexuality determined at birth, and did not therefore usually exercise unfettered choice. Its positive version holds that a certain proportion, a minority, of God’s human creatures are indeed born lesbian/gay and that their sexuality is to be seen as being as much God-ordained/created as that of the heterosexual majority. However, it also holds that homosexuality must still be repressed or at least treated. Reggae artistes are different from the deejays to the extent that fewer singers have composed songs directed against homosexuals/homosexuality and it is perhaps more difficult for the singer to address this issue by improvising in performance. Even so, the earliest directly homophobic reggae song known to me is the 1978 King Sounds and the Israelites’ ‘Spend One Night Inna Babylon’.
This song makes explicit mention of Sodom and Gomorrah and of the fact that these two ancient cities, along with Babylon and Rome, are anathematized in the Bible. King Sounds, then, is simply transferring onto modern ‘Babylon’ – as constituted in what Pollard (1994) has termed Rastafari ‘dread-talk’– the characteristic sin of Sodom. In the song King Sounds embellishes his catalogue of Babylonian abominations by adding to it bestiality. For those advancing the Christian fundamentalist imperative, the essential sin of homosexual behaviour (sodomy) is said to be forbidden by God, and is recognized as a sin so serious as to be punishable by death. A not untypical rendering of this imperative by a successful secular deejay is in Beenie Man’s ‘Bomb and Dynamite’. Like the work of Radikal Prodigal, it contains direct condemnation of designated homosexual behaviour as wrong in the sight of ‘di Almighty’, repeatedly referring to Sodom and Gomorrah, to bombing sodomy-generated social ‘confusion’ and also to AIDS as somehow divine punishment fully deserved as a result of this sin.
The ideological imperative of the unnaturalness of homosexuality and the naturalness of heterosexuality also is emphasized in the “Dem Man Deh’ track though dated still has some effect as evidenced in the call back segment of the show, then again all kinds of persons have crawled out of the woodwork since the visit of President Obama and his hail of LGBT work in Jamaica. Long time reggae acts such as King Sounds and the Israelites’ song, ‘Spend One Night Inna Babylon’. King Sounds holds that to the extent that a human being is a person of wisdom and understanding, s/he is bound to know that the people of Rastafari-designated Babylon are not examples of the ‘natural man’; rather, they are the ‘evil one[s]’, and the righteous cannot and must not emulate or imitate their actions (1978). Nor is a newer artistes like Turbulence far behind. He places on view in parts of his work seamlessly stitched together elements from the deejay-created tradition of righteousness, Selassie-laudation, homophobia and hetero/sexism, with a brocade of God approved and divinely required violence that culminates in the deadly couplet identifying man and woman as the ‘perfect pair’ followed by an invocation of ‘pure gun’ the shots from which will ‘tear . . . skulls’ (2003).
Many songs that are not centrally about homosexuality nonetheless encode its censure. For example Warrior King’s ‘Virtuous Woman’ (2002), which no doubt sounds like a welcome paean of praise to the black woman, manifests patriarchy and hetero/sexism in the loudest of traditional hues. Here, not only is ‘real’ manhood inscribed exclusively within the heterosexual relationship, but woman abjures social and individual ‘power’, while silently discharging her natural-historical task of making her ‘real man’ a ‘better man’. This state of affairs is presented as ‘natural’, as conﬁrming ‘Jah plan’, divinely ordained, and modelled by the Empress Menim in her relationship to the Emperor Haile Selassie. If Warrior King’s deﬁnition of real wo/manhood only silently excludes those involved in lesbian and gay relationships, this exclusion is made explicit in The Wickerman’s nearly contemporaneous Jamaican hit ‘Girls Gungo Walk’ (2001), a reworking of a mento song performed over Steelie and Clevie’s ‘nine night’ riddim, which mobilizes a number of other Jamaican folk-cultural forms. The song opens with the declaration that he does not want any other man to stare into his face [while making love], nor any ‘funny bway’ in his valued communal space.
The Wickerman further mobilizes folk ‘knowledge’ with the device of invoking allegedly widespread anger in order to sanction violence against gay men for menacing society with their ‘unnatural’ behaviours. He claims that homosexuals ﬂooded Jamaica during the 1970s and that the youths had not then quite realized they would have multiplied so fast such that they are now said to ‘full up’ the island. The Wickerman introduces the images of hen and cockerel to enable a word/ sound-playing line in which the cockerel’s ‘doodle doodle do’ sound represents heterosexual sex which generates ‘wi children’ on which basis he rejects men who desire other men sexually. Here the naturalness of the procreative function of heterosex contrasts markedly with the perceived purposelessness of homosexual sex, which is said to lead to perdition. That God is being angered is the implication of the nicely understated line saying that these ‘likkle ting’ are so enormous as to be causing the Almighty to ‘ben’. Indeed, the function of this imperative in justifying homophobic and/or heterosexist violence, including rape, is unmistakable in some popular material.
Chuckleberry’s ‘No Gay Man’ (1991) advises girls internationally to avoid gay or bisexual men, who are not real lovers of natural heterosex and should rightly be given ‘a gun shot’. Another Chuckleberry song, ‘Madley [Madly?] in Love’ has a refrain acknowledging his love of women and that he does not ‘rub a dub’ with men (ibid.). Simpleton’s ‘See it deh’ (1993) is another song foregrounding the naturalness of heterosexual sex while inveighing violently against homosexuality on the grounds of its unnaturalness. Is it in the sentiment in lines that stress the ‘good’ and ‘sweet’ look of the women which – while walking on the street – makes him want sexual ‘release’ (Simpleton 1993) that the interpenetration of anti-female and the anti-homosexual ideas ﬁnd a disturbing expression? Is the deejay not here admitting to using the ‘sweet’ appearance of Jamaican women on the public thoroughfare as the occasion for declaring his extreme sexual arousal and is the underlying attitude not precisely that of the self-justifying rapist more than a short step away from this?
The protection of vulnerable youth imperative is not so pronounced in DYCR’s piece though but more on the emphasis on separation of gay men from the supposed holy group, the onomatopoeic pronouncement of “Gash” in the track is deliberate although not calling by lyric the execution of gays the message is clearly implied as set by other Rastafarian acts such as Capleton and Sizzla who also employ similar tactics in lyric delivery to make their point of supposed abhorrence.
I guess we may have to endure the old “more fire” push back for now but although on the face of it the call for execution is not openly promulgated the message is implied if one listens deeply.
Where there is fire there is also cooling I say let us cool it by just living and be who we are.
Peace and tolerance