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Lexxicon and the gay-friendly transformation of Caribbean dancehall music

Lexxicon and the gay-friendly transformation of Caribbean dancehall music

Dancehall artist is ‘breaking barriers and championing LGBTQ+ visibility in music’


A gay Jamaican singer living in Toronto hopes to launch a gay revolution in the dancehall industry just as Lil Nas X did in American rap.

Lexxicon: “‘Battyman’ is an expression to say that gays, queers and non-binary people also have their place in dancehall.” (Photo courtesy of Lexxicon)
Dancehall musician Lexxicon: “‘Battyman’ is an expression to say that gays, queers and non-binary people also have their place in dancehall.” (Photo courtesy of Lexxicon)

Dancehall/hip-hop artist Lexxicon stands out as a gay musician who is “breaking barriers and championing LGBTQ+ visibility in music,” in the words of his page on the Bandcamp site. Building on his work that mixes Moombahton, Dembow, Reggaeton and upbeat dancehall rhythms, Lexxicon is getting ready to release an album on 16 August entitled “Pink Fraternity”.

A glimpse of that album is already available — the single ‘Batty Man Party‘*, dedicated to “all queer Caribbean people around the world”, which was released on 8 May. It’s already available on all the major streaming platforms, from Deezer to Spotify and YouTube. And on social network X, the teaser for the single has already been viewed almost 1 million times.

The lyrics are about gays who just want to live life to the fullest and who don’t give a damn about homophobes anymore because they feel good about their place in the world and the people around them.

Lexxicon contrasts sharply with another Caribbean musician who has recently been in the news, the  homophobic dancehall and murder-music artist known as Admiral T, who has been collecting royalties for 20 years for a song in which he presents homosexuals as a social scourge. Despite his homophobia, an elementary school in Guadeloupe has been named after him.

Because of Admiral T’s anti-LGBTQ lyrics, an online petition urges Universal Music France to remove his homophobic songs from its catalog. In particular, the petition focuses on his song “Gwadada,” in which he presents homosexuals as one of Guadeloupe’s many social scourges, on a par with armed robbery and unemployment.

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Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Cover image for the single "Batty Man Party"
Cover image for the single “Batty Man Party”

Meanwhile, Lexxicon has reclaimed the term “batty man*, an insulting Jamaican term for gay men, by reframing it as a label that gays can use. He’s seeking to reappropriate the term and turn the stigma on its head.

In the press release accompanying the release of “Batty Man Party”,  Lexxicon explains: “‘Battyman’ is an expression to say that gays, queers and non-binary people also have their place in dancehall. A lot of queers, like myself, started adopting this term as a way of putting a word to the malaise we’d been experiencing for years, not being able to be ourselves.”

It remains to be seen what impact the song will have in his native Jamaica, where homophobia is still rife and members of  the LGBT+ community are threatened with up to 10 years in prison.

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