One day before local dancehall artiste Kyle “Rebel Sixx” George was murdered, a group of Trinibad artistes from opposing sides, some with alleged affiliations to the Rasta City and Muslim gangs, had come together for a peace deal.
At George Street in Port-of-Spain on Saturday, nine artists, some among the most popular in the genre, shook hands, calling for an end to long-standing tensions between musicians from opposing sides.
According to those present, it was a move to ensure the genre advanced, as well as to provide a better example for the country’s black youth.
Residents, most with phones in hand, gathered at the plannings at 54-56 George Street to witness the truce.
In a testament to the enormous popularity of the artistes, some residents called it history in the making and a day they would never forget.
The artists present included Prince Swanny, Toppy Boss, Medz Boss, Lawless, Magic, Siah Boss, Bravo, Leo King and Leroy.
A peace deal was made possible by the entourages of Prince Swanny and Toppy Boss, who were also present at the Plannings.
Among the members of the entourage were Kevin “Johnny Bravo” Da Costa, radio personality Kwesi “Supa Hype” Lee, soca star Orlando Octave as well as manager Dr V.
Prior to the meeting, the artistes had a long-standing beef but on Saturday they swore to put that behind them.
“We are the voice of the ghetto. It’s the right thing for the upcoming generation. This is a big move right here. I hope it lasts and we do the right thing,” Prince Swanny, whose real name is Taryll Swan, said.
“It’s really no gang thing or nothing but this is something everybody was to agree with. Some people might not like it. Certain people might not agree but we’ve come to one decision and agreed.”
Toppy Boss, shortly after shaking hands with Prince Swanny, said, “It’s good for the country. It good for the music. Trinidad in Trinidad, right now, is the movement.”
The agreement came days after scores of young people from communities in East Port-of-Spain protested through the streets of Port-of-Spain, demanding justice for the killing of three men in Morvant on June 27.
While there have been claims that gangs have united to target police, there was no suggestion of any threats of violence at Saturday’s meeting.
The message was unity and peace.
“This is the right thing to do. The whole of Trinidad wanted to see it, so we came out and represent,” dancehall artiste Magic said, standing next to Medz Boss.
Prince Swanny, whose video Dreams has 5.8 million Youtube views, urged disillusioned youth to stay positive whatever their circumstances. He said he himself has survived ordeals people would never believe, but through hard work he’s been able to carve out a successful music career.
“Pray. Stay positive and do the right thing all the time. Believe in yourself. In anything you do, do the right thing,” he said.
Sia Boss called for the youth to continue fighting for their rights, even if it costs them their lives.
“Every youth has to make it at the end of the day. So it’s one love. One unity. Let every brother push one another. No more gang. No more warfare, because if you realise, at the end of the day, the system treating we unfair,” the Trinibad artiste said.
Trinibad, or Trinidad Dancehall, is arguably now one of the more popular music genres in the country. Artistes with alleged links to gangs have huge followings on social media. In demand, Trinibad songs play daily on urban radio stations, while some music videos amass millions of views on Youtube.
However, the genre has now lost two of its most popular artistes in the last month.
On June 10, Kwinton “K Lion” Thomas died from cardiac arrest in the United States before George was murdered in Bon Air, Arouca, on Sunday night.