Tree Waltham

Every so often I hear the term ‘Ghetto’ being used loosely to represent anything that is considered uncouth, immoral and stands for nothing good.  I am one who believes that individuals have the right to express their opinions as they see it fit BUT only if they are indeed knowledgeable of the subject matter.  Why is the ghetto, or the garrison as some may call it, considered and synonymized as bad?  The fact of the situation is that when I hear the term being used in such a manner I feel offended and I get upset because often, the individuals you see and hear using the term knows nothing of what a ghetto is or what it stands for.  I am not writing this entry to chastise these individuals or even to tell people that there is no truth to what they hear about these places true but simply to say do not make sweeping generalizations about a place you know nothing about.  As such, see this as your introduction to the place called the ghetto.

Gully Sit’n

By Assassin,

INTRO

Agent double ‘O’ six

Well poor people the system reject unu
A nuff a dem unu elect an dem neglect unu
All who fi serve an protect a dem a disrespect unu
But assassin don’t forget unu

VERSE 1
So mi haffi big up every gully and mi big up every trench,
Big up every base and every corner, every ends,
Mi big up over Grants, mi big up over MCcooks
An mi big up over Cockburn, big up all the pens,
Big up all the people weh a work to make them ends,
Every cabbie weh ina di sunny working for the benz,
Big up all the people dem weh kyaa find no cent
Fi pay di light bill water rate nor the rent
So big up everybody weh live ina tenament,
Big up every squatter, every shack and every tent
Big up all di people dem weh kyaa buy the block and cement
Big up every board house and zinc fence cause,

CHORUS
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (whoa)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, hear mi now, hear mi now

VERSE 2
Well mi seh fi big up every ghetto girl mi love unu style,
Big up the elders dem weh ina di ghetto, every juvenile,
Big up di dumplin dem ina di pot dem weh a boil,
Big up di half stick a butter an di big jill a oil,
Big up the sunday-monday ghetto food kyaa spoil,
Big up the clothes weh a dry back a di fridge pan di coil
Mi seh big up red oak we no have no ceramic tile,
Mi seh big up to the garrison it nice all the while

CHORUS
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (whoa)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, hear mi now, watch this

VERSE 3
Why most ghetto youth don’t wanna live uptown,
Dem woulda rather go a country dan give up town,
Because light kyaa bridge uptown,
Ina di ghetto when you can buy ice you haffi have fridge uptown,
Ina di ghetto when a bread an butta,
A tuna sandwich uptown,
Ina di ghetto when a tun cornmeal,
Yu dun know a straight cornmeal porridge uptown tell mi how mi sound,

CHORUS
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (whoa)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, hear mi now, hear mi now

Well poor people the system reject unu
A nuff a dem unu elect an dem neglect unu
All who fi serve an protect a dem a disrespect unu
But I and I don’t figet unu

So mi say big up every ghetto, yaso ova de so

Big up every ghetto just because mi se so

So mi say big up every ghetto, yaso ova de so

CHORUS
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (whoa)
A ghetto, a ghetto, gully sit’n (wah we seh)
A ghetto, hear mi now, hear mi now

When someone says anything bad about the ghetto I take offence based on the fact that I am a product, a former resident and a son of the soil and if you insult the label I see it as you spitting in my face.  There are indeed some ghettos worthy of the bad publicity that has been thrown around but I know for a fact that not all are the same.  In almost every territory in the world you go the term may mean something different and there is no guarantee that a ghetto in Honduras will be the same as one in Jamaica.  Quite frankly, each ghetto in Jamaica is likely to abide by different codes of ethics, though there are existing similarities.  This is one of the times I do not subscribe to the school of thought or the saying that a rose by any other name is still a rose.  I cannot tell you about the rules and laws that each abides by but what I can state are the similarities that will be present regardless of location.

In the first instance, the people in each seem to be marginalized and people see them as no one of good character, you are considered simply an address.  Case in point, I spent the latter parts of my life in the country (parish) of St. Elizabeth but was born in Kingston, spent the early part of my life, all my holidays and the early part of my University life in Kingston 13.  I came to Kingston the summer of 2004 to start University but lived with my father in the said Kingston 13.  During the summer I thought it would be good to earn some money to take the pressure off my parents when school started, so I decided to get a summer job.  After a lengthy scouting period I had an interview and was well on my way of starting until I had some paper work to complete and my particulars were requested.  Everything was going well, my age was greeted with the response “oh you are so young yet you know exactly what you want from life already”.  I was feeling good about my summer until I was asked for my address, I politely answered and the atmosphere in the room changed, the look on the members of the panel’s faces changed and I could not understand why.  I went home and was speaking to pops about it and he smiled and said “no badda listen fi no call”, which he was right about, the call never came.  That was the day that I decided to play closer attention to any situation in which my address was mentioned or even addresses similar to mine, just to see the responses and they were all the same.  The problem for me was, I couldn’t, still can’t understand where all this stereotyping and negative mindset originated and the fuelling power behind them.

Wrong Address

By Etana,

VERSE 1

Tried to get a job today but
When dem see the application dem say
If this is really where you reside
Please step outside
She asked them why
And they replied…

CHORUS
We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there every day
For our safety that’s where you should stay

VERSE 2
She traded in her three-piece for two
Everything and anything she wanted to do
Went back to her side a town
In bed she lay down
All she could hear was…

CHORUS
We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there every day
For our safety that’s where you should stay

BRIDGE
It’s easier to give into the pressures of life
It’s harder to get over when you try to do right
Just stay focused and keep your goals in site

VERSE 3
Been through school, passed every test
Graduated above the rest
And yet the society still looks down
They do this, why?
They don’t want us to try
And so they’ll reply…

CHORUS
We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there everyday
For our safety that’s where you should stay

We don’t want no trouble
We don’t want no trouble, no day
Cause lady where you come from
People die there everyday
For our safety that’s where you should stay

We don’t want no more

Stay stay stay

Some of the greatest people I have met are from the ghetto, born and raised.  They taught me the importance of friendship and camaraderie, the ideals of what a family is without being biologically related.  That’s where my passion for music was fostered and nurtured.  I still remember the street dances that were held right by my gate and the freedom and unity it brought to the community.  I have seen what it means to excel because you have to, having to will yourself to make something of whatever you excel at because you have people around who are depending on you.  The greatest lesson I have learnt however is not to be typical, not to allow people to take one look at you and be able to predict who you are and not to allow people to dictate your character and worth.

The ghetto also comprises individuals who give the place a bad name.  The reality is, not everyone can freely walk into a ghetto as they see it fit because if you are not known you will be scrutinized in an attempt to identify your motives, in some cases it’s a power mechanism or means of intimidation but in other cases it’s a sense of safeguard.  If you should listen carefully to Assassin’s Gangster’s City, the good and bad of the ghetto is identified where the bad outweighs the good shedding light on some of the ill-truths of the ghettos.

On the other hand, Agent Sasco’s Gully Sit’n highlights some of the bliss and fun of the ghetto.  Moreover, the ghetto teaches some ways of survival.  Where else can you go and buy a toothbrush worth of toothpaste, a piece of a stick of butter or even a quarter of a bread?  On top of that all, the elements of unity are very surreal, each community is like a big family taking care of each other.

Gangster City

By Assassin

INTRO

Yo

Well am gonna  tell yu about di place I spend most of my days

Di place I was born and raised

CHORUS

Well mi a tell yu bout di gangstas cidi (city)

Di real thugs cidi

So tings aint pridi it’s a slum around here

Public transport no even run aroun here

An even di police fraid fi come aroun here

Ina di gangstas cidi

Di real thugs cidi

Yu mouth a sopm yu kyaahn run around here

Informa yu get yu life done aroun here

Petty  thief now wi beat yu like a drum around here

 

VERSE 1

Den ina di gangstas city guns nuffa dan salt

Rifle, bolt action to assault

And it no tek nutten fi a nada war start

Nutten no safe dung yah, not even a vault

Di youth dem stay in di streets like di asphalt

Roadblock, anyting pass haffi hault

Might naav (no have) academics but wi very street smart

Haffi tink twice before yu go a exalt

 

CHORUS

Ina di gangstas cidi (city)

Di real thugs cidi

So tings aint pridi it’s a slum around here

Public transport niin (no even) run aroun here

An even di police fraid fi come aroun here

Ina di gangstas cidi

Di real thugs cidi

Yu mouth a sopm yu kyaahn run around here

Informa yu get yu life done aroun here

Petty  thief now wi beat yu like a drum around here

 

VERSE 2

(aarite watch ya no)

Well tings steep ina di city even though the place flat

Wi no mean temperature when wi seh di place hot

An when people hear gunshot ina di city

Dem don’t run away from, dem run to di spot

Yes! People deh pon di block right roun di clock

Gyal sidung a chat, man a get dem hair plait

Wi know every road, every alley, every track

Wi no need no map kaa wi know it like wi hanback

CHORUS

Ina di gangstas cidi (city)

Di real thugs cidi

So tings aint pridi it’s a slum around here

Public transport no even run aroun here

An even di police fraid fi come aroun here

Dat mi a tell yu bout di gangstas cidi

Di real thugs cidi

Yu mouth a sopm yu kyaahn run around here

Informa yu get yu life done aroun here

Rapist now wi beat yu like a drum around here

VERSE 3

Wah mi seh

Wah mi seh, everybody carry a gun aroun here

Dats di way tings get done aroun here

Consider yuself lucky if yu live to get old

Kaa most people die young aroun here

If yu smoke coke don’t bring none around here

Strictly marijuana wi a bun aroun here

Don’t touch a man daughter or him son aroun here

Yu wi end up six foot unda grung aroun here

CHORUS

Ina di gangstas cidi (city)

Real thugs cidi

So tings aint pridi it’s a slum around here

Public transport niin (no even) run aroun here

An even di police fraid fi come aroun here

Yow ina di gangstas cidi

Di real thugs cidi

Yu mouth a sopm yu kyaahn run around here

Informa yu get yu life done aroun here

Petty  thief now wi beat yu like a drum around here

FREESTYLE

Yow, check check, freestyle

Weh mi seh mi a tell yu bout di gangsta cidi

Di real slums and di ghetto, yeah di nidi (nitty) gritty

Where every ghetto yute wanna be like fidi

To roll in a benz, lexxus, f150

Wanna drive aroun wid a girl nice and pridi

Like di girls dat we see in di videos

And every likkle shotta wanna be di top man

Dem want fi be di top man

Ina di gangstas cidi

Di real thugs cidi

A murda

Versatile

 

(Instrumental until song ends)

I was having a discussion with a colleague recently while trying to maintain some level of sanity while marking exam scripts.  We had several conversations about what it was like growing up without certain luxuries.  During our conversation, I went back to the days of being excited to go to Kingston just to bask in the joys of what I really enjoyed; the fun that really came with learning and the new knowledge which came with each experience.  I had the best of both worlds!  At the end of it all we both came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t, if given the chance, change the lives we knew growing up.

The next time you use the ghetto as an adjective or even mention it at all (or any label for that matter) make sure that you are using it correctly and you are using it in the manner you KNOW it is representative of.  The Ghetto is a place, an avenue of fun where you escape the stress of your day, an educational institution (without the formality of a classroom) a survival system but most of all it is a way of life!

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