Jamaican Supreme Court judge Lennox Campbell delivered a life sentence to dancehall star Vybz Kartel today, bringing a murder trial that began last November to a close. Kartel and several of his associates — Shawn Campbell (a.k.a. fellow dancehall artist Shawn Storm), Kahira Jones and Andre St. John — were found guilty in the killing of Clive “Lizard” Williams and while they were all handed the same sentence, Kartel won’t be eligible for parole until he’s served 35 years. (Campbell and Jones will be in 25, and St. John will be in 30.)
“Jamaica feels this because Vybz Kartel has contributed a lot to reggae, no matter what anyone says,” Tad Records (the label responsible for three Kartel LPs, including 2013′s Kartel Forever Trilogy) founder Tad Dawkins told Billboard. “We will support him in any way that we can.”
“I am amazed at how stupid the media can be because there are so many serious issues in Jamaica,” the MC said in a 2009 interview about his ongoing feud with Mavado’s Gullyside crew. “The governor of the Bank of Jamaica is in a big scandal over money. The price of flour raise … but everybody is on this Gully/Gaza thing. It is like a ploy to take the people’s minds off the real issues and the media is just playing along because they are simple-minded. I know how to control them and I always do.”
Justice Campbell is now deciding whether Kartel will be transferred from the New Horizon Remand Center — he spent the past three years awaiting trial there — to the Tower St. Correction Center, where he’d have a recording studio at his disposal. Kartel’s lawyers are also filing an appeal, which is expected to take between six and 12 months.
“Kartel entered the game as one of its most compelling stars and stayed that way,” Pat McKay, a director of programming at Sirius XM said. “How it is changed is on the shoulders of current music makers.”