No disrespect to the Most High - Dancehall entertainers defend using ‘gawd’ in stage names
In the dancehall, stage names or pseudonyms may range from a childhood nickname, street alias, or even performance style.
Banton (meaning storyteller) and Ranks were popular in the 90s. But in recent times, 'gawd' is gaining popularity in the dancehall space especially among the younger acts.
One of the first popular entertainers utilising it is Mark X & Axio deejay AceGawd.
Speaking to The STAR, a representative of his management team explained: "Ace is a childhood nickname and the ace is the highest card in the pack. But he never felt like the name was able to stand well on its own. That is how it came to add to it. It doesn't go deeper than that for him."
Dancehall up-and-comer Ash Gawd claims that the use of the word 'gawd' as part of his stage name is not showing disregard for the higher power, but means 'something of a higher power'.
"It is a name given to me by persons in my community only because they look up to me or respect my music which is of a high quality and impact; the word 'gawd' along with 'ash' means always humble ... that is the definition I have created for it," Ash Gawd said.
Former Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall contestant Hummy Bling, who now goes by the moniker Israel Gawd, explained that "the word or the slang 'gawd' is a way to say you're a man and yuh know yuhself."
Form of blasphemy
He continued: "Them say calling yourself God is a form of blasphemy or a disrespect to the Father. But as ah entertainer you have to call yourself by ah name that can purify you, inspire greatness, and carry strong meaning ... and God do godly things. I am expecting people who are religious to bash me but in the Old Testament men were referred to as gods standing in the place of the Most High and that's how I explain it to Christians."
There has not been any public outcry against the use of gawd, but Reverend Dr Al Miller said it is the entertainers' duty to make their intentions or purpose for using certain words and names clear to the public, so as to avoid further criticisms.
"I can only give my opinions based on their reasoning behind using the name; is the intent to say that they are God or gods, and as a means to call people to worship them and their music? I don't know if that is what its use connotes," he said.
Miller explained that in the Hebrew community, the name God is so special and holy that it is not used for any other purpose than to show reverence and for worship in that culture.
"One would argue that the spelling is different but we use a lot of slang in our culture to mean different things, still we must remember that God is distinct and above all, and our position is to honour His name and fear alone should influence us to show reverence and respect," he said.
But Miller cautioned persons from passing judgment on these entertainers using the slang or patois translations of God.
"Allow them to explain what resulted in using it as a moniker because it is only with wisdom we can speak to the rightness or wrongness of it," he said.