Sean Paul Performs For The Pope. Jamaican Press Not Amused?

A section of the Jamaican press is apparently not happy about Dancehall star Sean Pul’s decision to be part of a line-up billed to perform for Pope Francis as he visits the capital of the United States. Below is a cull from

The piece was titled Reggae Dancehall has become a joke. Sean Paul performs for the pope.

Sean Paul Image Courtesy:
Sean Paul
Image Courtesy:

Maybe we should change Sean Paul’s name to Pope Paul. According to The Jamaican Star, dancehall reggae artist, Sean Paul will be performing for Pope Francis today.

Remember when dancehall used to strive to follow in the footsteps of reggae? In fact for many artists, it was difficult to label them as just one or the other. Is Sizzla a reggae artist or a dancehall artist? What about Capleton, Buju Banton, Anthony B, I-Wayne and Jah Cure? Even the new generation of artists like Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Protoje and Kabaka Pyramid cannot be put into a reggae or dancehall box.

The potency of the message in dancehall used to be closed if not just as potent as the message in reggae. Nowadays, it seems like that potency is only present if it is not affecting the artists’ pocketbooks negatively.

It used to be that, for every militant lyric that you could draw from a reggae song, you could draw just and equally militant lyrics from a dancehall song. That led many to believe that dancehall was just as militant and revolutionary as her parent, reggae.

So when you hear Bob Marley say, “Come wi go burn down Babylon one more time”, you know he influenced Anthony B’s “Fire pon Rome.. fi pope Paul and him scissors and comb”.

When you hear Peter Tosh sang, “I don’t want no peace till I have equal rights and justice”, you hear how he influenced Beenie Man’s lyrics, “shoot through needle, kill the dragin and eagle, murder the pope he is the center of evil.”

Pope Francis, 'The People's Pope' Image Courtesy:
Pope Francis, ‘The People’s Pope’
Image Courtesy:

There was also Capleton with “Light up di chalice mek wi burn down Rome, a pure froth John pope Paul fi foam” and Sizzla with, “them get the master plan, them and the boy pope John to put the microchip inna the youth them foot and hand”.

Well dancehall has certainly changed. Hopefully this change is because the world is changing and the music no longer needs to be militant or revolutionary.

After years of reggae and dancehall both burning a spiritual fire on the pope, today, dancehall artist, Sean Paul, will be performing for Pope Francis.

Multi-platinum dancehall artiste Sean Paul will perform for pope Francis at the National Mall in Washington DC today.

Along with pope Francis, the event, will feature several other government officials, religious leaders such as Reverend Pedro Jimeno Barreto and Archbishop of Huancayo, Dolores Huerta, climate justice activists Moby, Rev William Barber, and an all-star line-up of musicians.

It is great that dancehall music transcends the ghettos of Jamaican where it was created, at the same time, let’s hope it is not at the expense of destroying the culture. As Capleton said, “Big time sellout a gwaan…Be careful, who you let in pon di farm”.

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