Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Christine Jackson of the Toronto, Canada-based Who Duz That Entertainment outfit has been trying for two years to get deejay Vybz Kartel to come to the land of the Maple Leaf. Although she readily concedes that she eventually wants him to do a show which she promotes, for this trip Jackson wants Kartel to just talk to the youth in violence-prone Toronto communities.
She readily identifies Regent Park, Jane-Finch, Scarborough, Malvern and Brompton as areas where there is a high level of violence against and among youth and insists that Kartel's influence would go a far way towards addressing a situation. "Him have an influence on the youth there," she said. "Everybody sing him songs."
Even The Building, the New Kingston venue where Kartel is involved in many promotions, is a source of fascination for many Canadian youth who have never been to Jamaica.
On November 19 last year, the Toronto Sun reported a shooting at the Jane-Finch Mall in which a 17-year-old male was injured and two 23-year-old men were arrested for the attack. And on October 9, 2010, the same newspaper reported that despite millions of dollars being spent to refurbish and revitalise Regent Park, the killings continued in the notorious community.
Then, the most recent killing had been of a 19-year-old and a 15-year-old, both male.
Jackson has been on the Kartel hunt for two years and volunteers that he is hard to deal with - or maybe get to, because she tells The Gleaner that to date (including a just-concluded, five-week trip to Jamaica), she is yet to speak to Kartel directly.
This despite spending hours at a studio waiting for him and sending a text message to which she got no reply.
She says that the youth listen mainly to Kartel and Mavado and figures that it is 'Di Teacher's' songs which really get to them. So, Jackson says, "I figure a man like him can get to them, make them listen, just tell them that there are better things out there, it is not just guns and drugs."
It is not only a matter of Kartel's songs, but also his image, Jackson saying that a policeman in Toronto pointed out "he is tattooed down, he is dressed like them, he is everything like them".
There have been her personal efforts, which Jackson says have kept many people out of jail. So, she opines, "If a simple person like me can do something amazing like that, stop couple people from going to jail, can you imagine what he can do with the thousands?"
"Me jus' want him look into him heart and say make we do something," Jackson said.
Claiming that there are several organisations already on board with the initiative to staunch youth violence in Toronto, including Mothers Against Violence, the mayor's office and York University, Jackson says on this trip to Jamaica she has received email encouraging her to continue the effort.
"I just want him to say my thing is not about guns and violence, it is about upliftment," she said.
"If him want him, pay him get him pay. Is not a free mission. When people like Trump do him conference, him get paid," Jackson said. "Me nah stop. As long as me have breath a blow, me deh pon the mission. Me nah stop. Vybz Kartel needs to do it."
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer