Commentary submitted by a contributor who desires anonymity. The opinions expressed herein may not be those of Karee, the author of Negril Stories.
Garfield Spence got the perfect start to a music career in 2005 when he recorded his first song with his older brother Delus titled ‘Pon di Corner’. Shockingly, this track went to number one in Japan and due to this success, the duo performing under the name Sojah (Sons of Jah) toured Japan.
Fast forward to 2007 and the younger of the duo, Konshens re-emerged on the music scene with his first solo effort, Winner. The track was well received publicly, getting steady rotation on radio, television and in the streets. All eyes and ears were focused on Konshens. He was dancehall’s new sensation.
Since his debut as a solo act, Konshens has managed to impress the public year after year with popular chart topping songs such as Rasta Imposter, This means Money, Good Girl Gone Bad (ft Tarrus Riley), and Realest Song. The rising star soon became a top tier dancehall entertainer.
For promoters, producers and the general public, Konshens is seen as the ideal dancehall artiste. He is young, professional, intelligent, conducts good interviews, has a wide variety of songs, a US visa, no criminal record, the girls love him, men rate him; you get the picture. His clean-cut image has landed him performances on major stage shows- both local and foreign, endorsements by Corporate Jamaica etc.
In 2010/2011 dancehall slowed down drastically, many songs and artistes fail to hit and find favour with the public with the exception of one man who took control of dancehall, it wasn’t Konshens, it was Dancehall Super Star Vybz Kartel. Kartel, like Konshens, who is loved and rated greatly by both men and women enjoyed tremendous success as he pushed the envelope to the limit with sexually explicit and arousing songs such as Dumpa Truck, Freaky Gal Parts 1 and 2 among others.
September 30, 2011: Vybz Kartel is arrested on ganja possession and murder charges and as the charges pile up, it is evident that Kartel will be behind bars for a long while.
With the World Boss incarcerated, though still having tracks flood the airwaves, other dancehall artistes began to vie for the top spot to replace Kartel. But who could fill the ‘addivoid’? Popcaan(Kartel’s protégé), Khago, Cham and Konshens are the front runners in this race. Popcaan and Khago are rated mostly by males and lack the catalogue/popularity as Konshens; Cham is loved mostly by the female audience but he has been too inconsistent and away for too long. Konshens seemed to have the advantage as he is the only one of this set who is loved greatly by both male and female audiences but something was missing.
It’s either a mere coincidence that his material started to get raunchier or it’s that Konshens realized hardcore dancehall was what the people wanted. Whatever it is, the ‘nice boy, clean cut’ perception of Konshens started to transform, as his new material got more lewd and explicit song after song. I would say his bad boy image emerged in late 2011 with the song Bad Gyal on Overproof riddim.
At first people started to think “Konshens get bad” and then he did ‘Gal a Bubble’ and people’s reaction were “Whoa, Konshens Bruck out”. He pushed the envelope a little more when he did Stop Sign and it started being whispered that his songs sounded like Kartel’s songs. By this time, his fan base was growing tremendously both locally and overseas and as the women loved it, so did the men. The next song was brought to my attention by the numerous tweets on my timeline with women tweeting the lyrics ‘squeeze me throat and siddung pon b**dy, suck off mi nipple and siddung pon b**dy’. Then it finally hit home that Konshens bruck out fully now as many people on social media made remarks about missing Kartel and though nobody can replace him, Konshens is doing a good job with his f@ck songs.
But the wildest of all was yet to come and he pushed the envelope wide open when he appeared with Leftside on the track ‘Clap Dat Booty’ which pays homage to all exotic ‘go go’ dancers. The video or what some call a ‘mini-porno’ was shot in Taboo ‘Strip’ Club and shows both artistes tipping, grabbing and spanking fully naked girls as they climb the poles and exhibit their ‘dancing’ tactics. This is perhaps the most x-rated video ever done in dancehall- unlike music videos that leave a little to your imagination, this video was quite explicit. It brought you up close and personal inside Taboo, it was so lewd that Youtube removed the original version from their site. Immediately the controversy started, many loved it and made reference to him filling Kartel’s shoes nicely but this time many were disgusted. Here are some comments from taken from viewers on Youtube:
“Konshens a try get the spotlight weh Kartel leave. As soon as Vybz gone Konshens start behave bad”.
“Yow da one ya exxxtreme, it slap weh!!!!”
“Konshens should change his name now considering he has taken a different path”
“Is it wrong to say I loike it!!!”
“Leftside and Konshens are trying the same method Kartel used to get ppl talking unfortunately Konshens just downgrade his career”.
“Konshens just rise the bar for sexy vidz”
The video raised concerns about Konshens’ image, his degrading women and exposing kids to sexual content among other issues; this perhaps could see the video doing more harm than good. When Konshens sat down with ER’s Anthony Miller, he appeared unmoved and unperturbed by the criticism. He said the following
“Whole heap a people say dem lose offa Konshens and lose offa Leftside but at the end of the day people a people…a person is a person even before the artiste even before the image of the artiste that you like, is not always about what you like”
“Every song that I sing is 100% real and it reflects me…if dem a listen to di whole a di song dem weh mi sing dem will understand seh its not the pretty nice boy like wha yu think, is a regular yute and me a go do regular people tings; if you was a fan of Konshens, the pretty nice bwoy, I think you gone down the wrong road.
When asked about possible negative effects of his bew image, Konshens said
“I will bear the burden because, hear wha now, mi haffi be real 100% real and my career is based on me being real…me nah try fi justify me being in a strip club or shooting a video in deh but guess wha, me nuh have to justify it, I’m a adult”.
But where was this Konshens in 2007? Was the “pretty nice bwoy” who sang Winner and Realest Song not the real him? Is he truly being himself or is just filling the ‘addivoid’ because highly sexually charged lyrics breeds popularity in the dancehall?
To me, it would appear as if Konshens took a gamble with his career especially with that video, I think he analysed where society is now, what dancehall wants and is missing and decided that either he continues with the regular clean, friendly songs and stay at one level or push the envelope, put on some Kartel like bravado, win over some of his fans and take over the top spot. Also it could have been that his confidence (some may say arrogance) has gotten the best of him and based on his standings (financial and otherwise) he can afford to gamble big.
Is he winning? Well for now, he seems to be winning as he is on all major dancehall shows here and abroad. His Subkonshus camp is seeing more popularity, producers are hunting him down to record him and he has gained more fans/popularity in the last year.
Any setbacks due to his new bad boy image? Well its rumoured that the Ministry of Health’s Safe Sex ad featuring him was pulled from the airwaves after the Clap Dat video caused quite a stir. I have gotten no confirmation as to the reason why it has been removed but it was removed indeed.
To fully assess the negative effects of Konshens’ new raunchy sexually explosive songs/behaviour you would have to watch what happens over the next few months. Lets see if Corporate Jamaica shies away from booking him and distances him from their promotions or blocks him from appearing on live events they sponsor then maybe one would be able to say his image has been affected.
For now the confident dancehall front runner continues his sexual teaching and preaching which is evident in his new track ‘On your Face’ on the Wild Bubble Riddim. Listen to that track and go back and listen to his tracks from 2007- 2010 and you tell me, is Konshens a Good Boy Gone Bad?