Jamaican reggae artist Mista Majah P has released the first pro-gay reggae album. The album, titled “Tolerance,” features rainbow stripes on the cover and includes songs in support of marriage equality, adoption by gay couples, the end of anti-LGBT bullying and more.
One track even calls out anti-gay reggae singer Beenie Man.
Lyrics that advocate for violence against gay and transgender people are unfortunately still prevalent and widely accepted in the music genre. Beenie Man’s song “Han Up Deh,” for example, encourages violence against lesbians. In another song, “Roll Deep,” he says, “Tek a bazooka den shot batty f*cka” which loosely translates as “Take a gun and shoot the gay man.” “Batty” is another common slur, which is comparable to fa**ot.
As recently as this year, anti-gay Jamaican recording artist Buju Banton won the Grammy award for Reggae Album. In the song “Boom Bye Bye,” Banton says that “batty bwoy” and “batty man” need to die, and he discusses violent acts against them. GLAAD protested against a nomination for Banton, and was joined by The LA Gay and Lesbian Center and The New York Anti-Violence Project in urging community members and allies to do the same, and for the Recording Academy to speak out artists who promote violence in their music. Judging by his win, it’s clear that many of the genre’s fans unfortunately still find such lyrics acceptable.
"I want to counter the myths that all Jamaicans are homophobic and that all reggae music is violent and anti-gay,” says Mista Majah P. “I'm seeking to challenge ignorance and reach out to gay people."
Mista Majah P recalls having a happy childhood, but one tragic memory has stuck with him ever since. The Jamaica native and father of five describes the “unforgettable” time he witnessed a young boy being assaulted by others because he was gay. “I was too young to understand the culture and politics...but I knew that something was wrong with that picture,” he explains.
"My hope is that this CD, Tolerance, will break down the homophobic stance that certain reggae artists and heads of government have taken towards the LGBTQ community," Mista Majah P adds. "My music is about tolerance. It shows that reggae music can respect gay and lesbian people. Reggae music used to be about love, peace and unity...I want to bring the music back to its progressive roots."
Although not a widely known reggae artist, Mista Majah P has reportedly received numerous death threats and has been warned to not return to Jamaica (he currently resides in California). GLAAD commends Mista Majah P for his courage and powerful message of acceptance. His album highlights the important role allies and musicians play in raising awareness and creating change.