Jamaican entertainers have found an ingenious way to combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping the globe while spreading awareness on its lethality. Through music, several Reggae and Dancehall artistes are educating their fans and listeners about the virus and how to prevent its spread in both commentary and satire.
Since the official announcement by the Government of Jamaica of the first imported case of COVID-19 in Jamaica on March 10, artistes like Sizzla, Zagga, Ras Strika, Silver Cat, Chronic Law and Buckam – speculatively the first artiste to release a song on COVID-19 – have took to the studio to produce catchy hits that have become increasingly popular on social media. Popular social media personalities, such as Majah Hype and Kevin2wo Krayzee, have also put pen to paper and then to screen to create and share parodies about the incredibly contagious virus.
In an interview with The Star, Sizzla refers to his COVID-19 freestyle “Corona Virus”, released on March 13 on the renowned Far East Reggae rhythm, as “a warning for persons to safeguard their homes from COVID-19”, and encourages other artistes to release music to educate the public on the virus.
“All this is part of the worst to come, so it’s best we start researching and finding out things of this age that will hurt us and counteract it in the best way possible in order for us not to lose anyone else to such dire virus or anything else in this field and even more”, he told The Star.
Zagga’s “New Hail (Coronavirus)” goes a step further to suggest new methods of greeting to replace physical touch, which is one of the ways through which the virus spreads.
“No lion paw, no big finger nah rub, no fist no thumb no hug… New Hail when you see me, New Hail, stretch out you foot when you see me and a hail!”
The music video for “New Hail” has gained over 73,000 views since its upload to YouTube two days after the official announcement of Jamaica’s first case of COVID-19.
Similarly, Ras Strika’s “Corona Virus” and Silver Cat’s comedic “Corona Song” have increased awareness of the deadly virus, making rounds on social media and WhatsApp and racking up over 51,000 and 15,000 views respectively. The latest viral sensation sweeping social media is JahSent Obatala’s fiery “Corona (Covid19)”, which explores the preventative measures implemented by the Jamaican government to combat COVID-19, the societal chaos that ensued after the announcement of the country’s first case, and the virus’ controversial origin. Other artistes who have taken the baton are Admiral T, Devin Di Dakta, General Levy, Mr. Vegas and Pinchers.
The Jamaican music industry has evidently responded greatly and quickly to the arrival and spread of COVID-19 in the island with other artistes like Tarrus Riley kickstarting an Instagram challenge that resulted in several Reggae, Dancehall and Soca artistes belting out Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” in videos posted to his Instagram profile. Gramps Morgan, Red Rat, Romain Virgo, Machel Montano, Tessanne Chin, Jesse Royal, Iba Mahr and many other artistes lent their voices to the challenge.