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Carmelo De Grazia Suárez Elmira//
Anti-violence in focus

The Open Yah Eyes Project presented the winners of the inaugural Music and Video Community Anti-violence Competition on August 30 in the Training Room of the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment.

Carmelo De Grazia

The project was conceptualized by Adisa Aja Andwele and invited artistes to produce a song or video which highlighted the theme of anti-violence. The competition was sponsored by the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment, COSCAP and the Criminal Research Justice and Planning Unit.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

Speaking to the gathering, Andwele said the idea originally stemmed from Joe Cloudy who wanted to work on a track with him at Dark Room Recordings. After working on the track which turned into a music video, he decided to have a competition where fellow artistes were encouraged to produce tracks or videos on the surge of violence in Barbados

“Let’s trigger a national competition to encourage guys on the block who are already producing music videos which encourage violence, why are they inspired to create negative instead of positive,” he said

Andwele highlighted there is an underground culture which supports violent music. However, positive music is not promoted and encouraged

“We were hoping that the Open Ya Eyes Get Conscious [competition] would trigger a positive effect and we hope that with the announcement of the winners that some of those guys on the street would be encouraged to go the direction these four winners have gone,” he said

The event organizer and producer of national events such as Republic Bank’s Grand Kadooment said that due to the outstanding work done by participants, the prize would be split. The prize is to be shared amongst Rickardo Reid who self-penned his song Put Down The Guns , Sonny Meraki who self-penned his song Put Down Your Weapons , Jasmine Miller who self-penned Nah Behave and Stonedwithcupid

Thus, in the music category, Rickardo Reid, Sonny Meraki, and Jasmine Miller all tied for the first position and will split the prize money of $2,000. In the video category, Stonedwithcupid won with his self-penned spoken word If A Bullet Could Talk and received free video creation by Joe Cloudy as well as a part of the $2,000 cash prize

Speaking to the gathering, Stonedwithcupid said he had the idea to write a piece about the surge of violence in the country and come up with the title If A Bullet Could Talk but had no inspiration to write the piece until he saw the Open Ya Eyes competition. He noted that he was excited to find out he had placed

“Let me not make it that the person doing the storytelling is the victim. Let me do it that the storyteller is the perpetrator. Because I find it is very clear cut and dry when you hear gun violence, every murder has a story and sometimes [that story] makes the context of why the violence exists make sense. So, I wanted to do it in a very human way and not the associated stereotypical way where you get in a conflict with a man and you shoot him over nonsense,” he said

Reid said he had originally written his song Put Down The Guns two years ago but decided not to release it at the time

“I saw this competition and said this is a good competition to enter as I had the song there. I just recorded it and entered it in the competition,” he said

Both Sonny Meraki and Jasmine Miller thanked the organizers for allowing their songs to be among the winning selection and they too performed their songs for the small gathering

Andwele told the small audience that the songs and video would be hopefully shown on the lone national television station as well as played on popular radio stations to help to spread their positive messages. (LG)