As suggested by her boss, Prime Minister Andrew Holness and former Cabinet Member Karl Samuda, Entertainment Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange appears to have been using “gentle persuasion” and her “charm and skills” in an attempt to steer her “nephew” Valiant away from recording unwholesome songs.
Grange shared a video of her address at Valiant’s 4X14 Mix Tape launch a few days ago, where she expressed how proud she was of the Red Hills native and urged the Dunce Cheque singer to always remind himself that he has an “awesome responsibility.”
Grange, who is a former manager of Patra, Shabba Ranks and Bounty Killer, noted that she hailed from “West Kingston above Coronation Market, and so I have been exposed to the good, the bad, and the ugly.” The Minister, during her seven-minute presentation, told Valiant that in spite of some of his bellicose musical content, he had made her proud, particularly due to his most recent act of benevolence.
“I have always felt that you must stay at work with your people and help to change attitudes and help to make them better. And so, I have seen many poor youths rise to the top to the point where they can turn around and help others. But I am so proud of Valiant, because there was this student who could not pay the school fee and Valiant stood up and said he would do it,” Grange explained.
“And not many others would do that: so you make some money, you buy some nice car, buy some nice sneakers; yuh spend yuh money on all kinda things and you forget where you coming from,” she added.
What Grange said next resulted in an outburst of laughter from those in attendance.
“So tonight, I want to say that Valiant is a special human being. Yes, his music is controversial; yes, some of it, I can’t handle. Yes, some of it, my colleagues don’t like it,” she declared, alluding to Information Minister Robert Morgan’s decrying of Dunce Cheque last year.
“You know what’s interesting? I have a five year old great-granddaughter, She’s now in England. Her birthday was a week ago. And you know the message I had from her? She wants a big up from Valiant,” Grange, 77, said.
The former Specs/Shang executive also made references to Valiant’s recent declaration that he had “gone corporate” and therefore had no need to do raunchy or risqué songs.
“So Valiant, you have an awesome responsibility. You say you gone corporate, right? So now that you gone corporate, I expect that your music will display the kind of awesome responsibility that you have. There are a lot of things happening in the society that is not good for us. Your fans and your audience and everybody here tonight, also equally, have the responsibility that you have,” the Central St. Catherine MP said.
Turning to Valiant again, she said: “Valiant come here. Come to Auntie Babsy. I am proud of you. I think you have an awesome responsibility and I think you recognise that. And as you grow, you grow to greatness. And as you grow, and you become great. Greatness must also involve goodness. I know you know what I’m saying. And I know you know what I’m talking about. Everybody in here love you. And the world love you. And you have a great future,” she stated.
Grange said that Jamaica, having given the world, Reggae, Dancehall, the world’s fastest men and women, best coffee, a new religion in Rastafari, its nationals ought to recognise that “we are not an ordinary likkle country”.
“This society is a society weh kinda love badness and things weh kinda risqué but the more that we penetrate the world is the more we have to understand the responsibility that we have,” she emphasized.
Valiant’s EP launch she said, was a must-attend for her, despite any criticisms which may arise of her presence at his event.
“I had to be here tonight, and there may be some who may criticise the fact that I am here. But I am here for everybody. I love my people and I will never, ever forsake them. But I will guide you,” she said.
“Where I am standing here tonight is not new to me. It’s just a new generation. And as music evolves and the music grows, it’s not gonna be the same,” she added.
In November last year, during her address at the launch of Sting 2022, Grange had cautioned upcoming Dancehall artists to refrain from singing about content such as scamming and violence and instead be “positive” and “respectful of women”.
“I don’t want to hear you continue to sing about scamming, those of you who are doing so. And I don’t want you to sing about violence,” she had said.
“I want you to promote the positive things about Jamaica and about ‘livity’. Because if you don’t, you won’t last as long as the Bounty Killers, and the Shabba Ranks and the Beenie Man… So you young artistes, you are talented but, I want you to respect the music and to carry on the positive vibes and the positive tradition of those who paved the way for you,” she had added.
In March this year, then Social Security Minister Karl Samuda, during a sitting of the Standing Finance Committee of Parliament, had charged Grange, to use her “charm and skills” to encourage Jamaican music newbies to step up their lyrical game, as uninspiring and mediocre content being recorded by many of them, was causing them to miss out on millions.
Samuda, while implying that there was monotony in the lyrical content that he had been hearing in recent times, had said that he knew the artistes are competent lyricists who should be encouraged to display their musical mettle. He also asked Grange to encourage the youngsters to be “philosophical with their lyrics” as “the ones that are most successful are the ones with a philosophical base and a message”.
Early last year, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had told journalists that while he was aware of the many concerns being raised about the unsavory lyrics in much of the new music, his administration would maintain its hands-off approach, and not censor Dancehall artistes or their lyrical content, even if depraved or degenerate, but would instead, continue to utilize gentle persuasion.
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