BY HOWARD CAMPBELL—–
A LINE of Vybz Kartel merchandise dominates a wall at the entrance to House of Dancehall, the Kingston entertainment complex run by Michael Dawson.
The burly Dawson co-wrote The Voice of The Jamaican Ghetto, Kartel’s book which was released in 2012, two years before he was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.
Last week Member of Parliament and former Government minister Lisa Hanna called for Kartel’s songs to be banned from Jamaican airwaves. It drew backlash from his fans and revived interest in the book.
“It’s always done well. However, I must say whenever there’s controversy, it forces people to look at Vybz Kartel and sales go up,” Dawson told Splash.
The Voice of The Jamaican Ghetto is based on 10 of Kartel’s songs and contains as many chapters giving a narrative on their social impact.
Dawson, a Campion College past student, said he met the artiste in 2010 when Kartel was riding high, despite brushes with the law.
With his background in writing, Kartel sought his assistance to produce ‘The Voice’.
“He pretty much told me from a musical standpoint where the songs were coming from. Then I would take it from an academic view,” Dawson explained.
The Voice of The Jamaican Ghetto gained extensive coverage in American mainstream media. Amazon.com, in its review, stated that. “This book should be read by every Jamaican and any person who is interested in the real Jamaica.”
Though he is an unapologetic dancehall fan, that is where the 44-year-old Dawson’s similarity with Kartel ends. He grew up in South Florida and attended the University of Miami.
He worked for many years in the telecoms industry in Florida and Africa, but maintained ties to entertainment by writing plays such as Tek Yuh Hand Offa Mi, starring Oliver Samuels.
House of Dancehall is part of Whirlwind Entertainment, a company in which Dawson is partner.
it is located on the complex that houses a theatre where plays such as Cock Tales and Dolly House have been held. There is an adjacent hall for live concerts.