“Vybz Kartel's arresting book, The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto, co-authored with Michael Dawson of People's Telecom fame, gives a penetrating account of the deadly conditions endured by too many youth who are barely surviving on the margins of Jamaican society. Claiming the authority of the traditional warner man, Kartel compels his audience to pay attention to his prophetic story. You just can't put the book down.”
“The publication of The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto: “Incarcerated but not Silenced” is timely, granting rare access to a figure otherwise sustained by a sporadic stream of previously unreleased tracks circulated following his imprisonment. Perhaps it is appropriate that we hear Kartel’s grievances against this backdrop, in which his case is yet to be heard nearly one year after his arrest. Irrespective of the accusations he faces, his take on contemporary Jamaican affairs is one that should be heeded by dancehall enthusiasts and critics alike.”
“This book makes interesting reading. It isn’t a book promoting Palmer’s music, although each chapter focuses on a title of his recordings, nor is it meant to defend his problems with the Jamaican legal system. Rather, it’s a book depicting the pain, frustrations, inequalities, and injustices of the poor residing in Jamaican Ghettos. Palmer and his co-author have succeeded in holding up a mirror to society’s collective face indicating something must be done about poverty.”
The Voice Of The Jamaican Ghetto, a book authored by controversial dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel and his business associate Michael Dawson, is still going places despite receiving some amount of resistance locally. The book was released in July 2012, with the tag line 'Babylon can incarcerate the messenger but not the message', and it appears the words have been spoken into being, with the prestigious Princeton University recently adopting the book into its libraries.
“This book makes interesting reading. It isn’t a book promoting Palmer’s music, although each chapter focuses on a title of his recordings, nor is it meant to defend his problems with the Jamaican legal system. Rather, it’s a book depicting the pain, frustrations, inequalities, and injustices of the poor residing in Jamaican Ghettos. Palmer and his co-author have succeeded in holding up a mirror to society’s collective face indicating something must be done about poverty.”Kartel’s consciousness and wisdom is evident throughout this thought provoking book and it is clear to see that the Worl Boss is seeking for change. For those that thought Kartel was all about skin bleaching, controversies and slack songs – think again! Only those born and raised in Jamaica can say how accurate Kartel’s portrayal of ghetto life really is, but if even half of what he describes is true then it’s very sad. In The Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto Kartel invites readers into his mind-set, as he reasons and tries to connect with us. To call this book controversial is an understatement, yet I’m glad I’ve read it as everyone is entitled to a voice and a platform to express himself or herself. .”
“This is a well informed and engaging read. I love the way it is structured by analysing the content of his lyrics. Kartel touches on every subject affecting Jamaican people -not just ghetto youths. From crime, politics, economy, the treatment of women, fatherless children, racism and abuse - Kartel voices his opinions with passion, realism and poignancy. This is a must read for Jamaican black men. He has gained my respect in a way no other reggae artist could. While I may not agree with all his views, I appreciate him starting tge debate about tge future for ghetto people. Unlike any other reggae artist since Bob Marley he has used his talent and voice to create controversy and questions. I read it in three days and it inspired me a lot. Thank you Adidja Palmer.”
Sam Cooke best describes Kartel’s journey in his hit song Change is Gonna Come, writing “There's been times that I thought I wouldn't last for long but now I think I'm able to carry on. It's been a long, long time coming but I know a change is gonna come. Oh, yes it will.” And for Jamaica, it has!
Kartel has always said to expect the unexpected. In a statement released May 2011, Kartel threatened to use the pedestal that ‘Babylon’ has put him on to fight for his people – ‘Ghetto People.’ Through this book, Kartel is signaling that the fight for change starts now. Can Vybz Kartel change Jamaica for the better from behind bars? He has vowed to and based on Kartel’s ability to use his lyrics to gather a following, it will be interesting how this initiative by Kartel will affect Jamaica. On the cover of his book, Kartel states “I pray this book helps to change Jamaica forever.”
It is hoped that this book will lead to discussions on classism, racism and other “isms and schisms” existing in modern day Jamaica. The objective of Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto is to bring things that are often hidden by the powers that be to the forefront, using the biggest “Voice” that the Jamaican Ghetto has had in years – the voice of the notoriously controversial Vybz Kartel. Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto tells the “other half of the story that has never been told.” A story which Reggae pioneers have sang about - but Vybz Kartel has dared to put it into book form. While Kartel proudly acknowledges 50 years of Independence for Jamaica, Voice of the Jamaican Ghetto boldly asks – “50 years of what for poor people?”
So what book influenced you in writing your book?
I wouldn’t say a book influenced me–a lot of people always tell me “why don’t you write a book about your life?” I was like “nah, if I write a book about my life I’d probably be indicted and sent to prison”[laughs].
Just kidding. I didn’t want to write a book on my life, I wanted to write a book about life. About Jamaican life. It was people telling me “you’re so intelligent, you should write a book.” So I was like, what the f**k, I’m going to do it.
It was a show in Ocho Ríos. How I had the people eating out the palm of my hand, I was like “I feel like a king, I’ve got to do something to take this sh*t to the next level.” I hooked up with a friend of mine who studies in Miami and he said “let’s do it.” He was the one who actually did the data researches. We talk about the GDP and Jamaica’s debt that we owe to countries, he was the one who actually did research for stuff like that.
How do explain Kartel’s long-lasting appeal? He’s been out of the public eye for two years now and he’s still so popular. Why do you think he is such a compelling figure?
Well, two things. First, nobody stepped up to the plate. [Laughs.] You know what I mean? Nobody stepped up to the plate. And he has a fan base worldwide that just loves him. He’s still relevant. This song he did titled “School” was done a year ago. Well, not a year ago. But they did the whole thing a while ago and they didn’t release it. And it was just released now in September and it’s still relevant. It’s telling the kids not to bleach and pull their pants up—something positive.
And also, they just love him. They just love Vybz Kartel. And you notice most of his songs is about women. You know, the girls love that. And he also thrives from controversy. He will take something and turn it around and twist it so he will look good. He loves that. He loves controversy. There’s nothing—like what’s happening now with the police, what they did and raided his cell? he’s getting so much press out of it you’d never believe it. He’s on every news. [Laughs.]