No matter where I travel in the world, when I tell people I’m from Kentucky, they automatically associate it with KFC. In Jamaica, fried chicken is an art form (I will seriously have to scrub my arteries when my service is over due to all the DELICIOUS fried chicken I have consumed). As far as fast food goes, three American chains are king here: Pizza Hut, Burger King, and of course, KFC. Going to KFC is a big deal, even date night worthy. It is often referred to as simply “Kentucky,” as in, “I’m going to Kentucky, do you want anything?”
As you may have figured out, music is also an enormous part of the culture here. Dancehall and reggae are the most recognizable genres that are thoroughly Jamaican. DJs are very popular here (my supervisor is a DJ in his spare time, believe it or not) and they have…creative names. A fellow PCV texted me about the above sign and I happened to see one in Brown’s Town. Too good to pass up.
Another indication of the impact of music and entertainers on Jamaica: the Vybz Kartel verdict. Vybz Kartel is a well-known dancehall artist that was accused of BRUTALLY murdering a man. After a long and very public trial, he was found guilty yesterday. There was literally rioting in the streets of Kingston. The public’s reaction to this is terrifying, in my mind. The lyrics to his songs were violent, he’s been in altercations on stage, and the public continually makes excuses (one woman on TV said “he killed a criminal, not a doctor or a lawyer or something” as if he should have gotten off easier.) for him. Many Jamaicans idolize dancehall artists and the things they say and do permeate popular culture (even going so far as to cause rifts in communities and families). My friend and fellow PCV Julie wrote about it here. Definitely not one of my favorite aspects of Jamaican culture.