Is Your Caribbean Culture Killing You?


Different genres of Caribbean music have different types of sexual content. Soca and calypso music have plenty of sexual references in the lyrics, and until recent times, used double entendre to hide much of it from youngsters’ comprehension. Today, the lyrics of soca and dancehall are much more… to the point.

Read also: Radial Brings Soca to the World with Curated Family Friendly Playlists

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According to a study[x] of adolescents in Jamaica published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences dancehall music has a significant impact on adolescent behavior including sexual activity. In another study of school children who listened to dancehall on public buses and in taxis  in Jamaica found that the children would sit on each other’s laps and either imitate the gyration movements described in the song or act out the sex acts from the song’s lyrics while on the public transportation.

“Unprotected sex is the most common cause of HIV among young people…. Adolescence is often associated with experimentation of risky sexual …  behaviours, increasing a young person’s vulnerability to HIV.” [xi]

While the most powerful influence on sexual activity of teens was peer pressure, the influence of sexually suggestive or explicit music was significant.  In some cases, adolescent sexual activity leads to pregnancy and STI/HIV infection, and this outcome is not limited to Jamaica. While the dancehall and soca originated in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the AIDS epidemic isn’t the most prevalent in these island nations.

About 1 percent of adults in the Caribbean have HIV, and about 3 percent of adults in the Bahamas are infected. The countries that account for the majority (96%) of the infected population are Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Fifty-nine percent AIDS-related deaths in the region during 2013 occurred in Haiti. While new infections are declining significantly, thanks in part to educational programs aimed at vulnerable populations (youth, sex workers, MSM) there are nearly a quarter of a million people living with HIV in the Caribbean. [xii] Studies have been done on the correlation of the sexually charged lyrics and the effects on HIV infection rates in young populations, with the results showing that “[t]here is a correlation between hard-core dancehall genre and the sexual … behavior of adolescents.”[xiii]

Music and dance are often considered inextricable parts of Caribbean culture, and when much of that music is centered around risky sexual behaviors, it is possible that it can pave the way deadly viruses and other sexually transmitted diseases in the region and in Caribbean communities abroad where the music is often used as a means to stay connected to the culture.

Disclaimer: This Website Does Not Provide Medical Advice