Dang. I was really enjoying my love for Drake, but, ironically, his
“Find Your Love” video is so profoundly lost, that it’s tough to keep
the feeling going. The song, sure, is ok, but the video, directed by
Anthony Mandler, is a tired rehash of the same old Jamaican
stereotypes: big bottomed gyal, moody gun man, wise Rastafari, and
The fact that this video was released the day after Voicemail’s O’neil
was shot outside his own home, and a peace vigil held in Half Way
Tree, is at best ill-timed and at worst insensitive. And yes, I am aware of the difference between acting and reality, yet what I am talking about
here is what the video–a video made for a foreign artist,
made by a foreign director–communicates. Namely that guns, darkness and drama sells and Jamaica, with its fair share of gun problems, dark alleys and political drama, is nothing more than an advertising gimmick for Drake (did the Jamaica Tourist Board approve this video?).
The video opens with Drake receiving wise advice from an older man
with dreads. We have no idea why Drake’s in JA, save for the fact that
we get to see him in tough neighbourhoods hanging out at hot parties.
Mavado’s role is none other than that of gangster, peeking out
ominously behind his braids, drawing his all-male crew together to
ambush Drake and eventually have our Canuck hero shot, but, and this
is the key–Mavado’s character doesn’t do the deed, but instead, his
svengali ways make sure that the Gully God’s hands remain clean. He
gets his woman to do it. Mavado doesn’t just want his woman to do
house cleaning…badman nah shoot Canadian rap hero either.
Beyond the blatant glamorization of guns and gangsters, perhaps more
importantly, the role of the woman in the video is such an incredible
comment on the role of women in reality. Mavado’s character wields enough power such that he can demand that she kill Drake. She’ll do it, because she’s told to do so. Reminds me of how back in Baz Dreisinger’s “Reggae’s Civil War” piece for the Village Voice, she spoke of a discussion she had with one of Vybz Kartel’s female proteges:
I am beckoned inside, where a man who introduces himself as Not Nice
is seated at the mixing board, with a slim young woman in a ponytail
who looks no older than 20 in the recording booth. She would, she
explains, soon be the newest Gaza sensation, but “Di Teacha hasn’t
decided what my name will be as yet. Di Teacha will sort it out. Di
Teacha knows best.”
The Drake video is an extension of the reality of which Dreisinger
writes. In dancehall, there have always been a number of strong female
performers who can out-chat or out dance the boys, but the men always end up on top. There’s no speaking part for the female in Drake’s video, and it would seem that she appears for no other reason then to show her as a sexual object for Drake and as a useful tool for Mavado’s character. Who is she really into? Who cares? Well, according to comments I have seen, there is great appreciation for the girl’s behind.
O’neil was shot 5 times at his gate the day before yesterday. Following the shooting, Mavado’s management went public with another peace initiative. They are, according to @Alliancejamaica‘s twitter, starting a peace movement alongside the JA government: “we neva intended 2 go public wit it but we gota take this all the way now…i went to Jamaica House last week to discuss plans for Mavado to spearhead a Peace movement, hes ready the Alliance ready to make the change…this is a time for serious reflection. we all need 2 do what we can 2 stop this cycle of violence. entertainers r powerful ppl, lets use it”.
It does take power to start an effective peace movement. And it takes power to be included in a video with a hip hop mega star. And it will most certainly take a lot of power for the world to see more in Jamaica than the polar opposites of beaches and babes or ghettos and guns. According to twitter, Mavado himself is taking a lot of heat. But it’s Drake’s video. I do, however recognize Mavado, Drake and Anthony Mandler are entertainers, not social workers. Yet I believe there’s more to Mavado than what appears in this video. And I know for a fact that there’s much more to Jamaica as well.