Head of the Police Complaints Authority David West has launched an independent investigation into the killing of Kareem Chad Hernandez, 21, of Bagatelle, Diego Martin.
Chutney soca artiste and comedian Kenneth Supersad intends to perform his hit “De Raj Story” at tomorrow’s Chutney Soca Monarch semifinals despite a legal threat from the man, who claims that his viral domestic dispute allegedly inspired it.
Speaking at a press conference in Port-of-Spain yesterday morning, Supersad said that his attorney Anand Ramlogan, SC, had reviewed the threat and advised him to disregard it. In a letter sent to the man’s attorney Wendy Ramnath-Panday yesterday, Ramlogan’s associate Douglas Bayley stated that Supersad’s song did not specifically refer to her client, whose identity she withheld to protect him from further “harassment, abuse and derision”.
“We have advised our client that his song is not in breach of any law nor does it make reference to your client (whoever he may be),” Bayley said as he pointed out that he did not have ownership of the name “Raj”.
Commenting further, Supersad claimed that the “Raj” referred to in his song is a fictional character, created by him to highlight the issue of adultery and infidelity in T&T.
“If somebody by the name of Raj have an issue, I am not singing about that particular Raj, who the attorney Wendy Ramnath-Panday is talking about. That Raj to me is a decent, law abiding and innocent citizen and I am talking about somebody who is horning his wife, who is committing adultery and who is involved in infidelity,” Supersad said.
Supersad likened his use of the character Raj to others created by chutney artistes and calypsonians including last year’s joint Chutney Soca monarch Omardath Maharaj’s Ramsingh Sharma.
“It is social character and I want to get the message across that for too long the national community talking about prizes being paid by taxpayers money and artistes are coming with all kind of rubbish lyrics singing about rum and horn and negative lyrics,” Supersad said.
In his letter, Bayley said that Ramnath-Panday’s concerns over the link to her client may be an unfortunate coincidence.
“If this is in fact the case, we encourage your client to play the song and listen to the lyrics as it could help him salvage his marriage,” Bayley said.
Bayley also suggested that Supersad’s song was acceptable as it is social commentary.
“In any event, it is the cornerstone of our country’s democracy, and an enshrined part of our culture, to offer as part of our soca, chutney, and parang songs, various forms of satire and “picong”. These songs are considered to be made in jest and are entirely acceptable in law,” Bayley said.
Referring to controversy over fellow chutney artiste Nirmal “Massive” Gosein’s song “Rowley Mudda Count”, Supersad said he believed that the lawsuit was an attempt to muzzle his freedom of expression.
“I believe that it is an attempt to shut me up, but I want to let the country know that I am going down fighting to the wire,” he said as he questioned why it was made two months after the song was released.
Asked of his offer of cash incentive for “Raj” to appear on stage for his performance, Supersad claimed that it was not directed to Ramnath-Panday’s client and was merely an open invitation to anyone who identified with the character in his song.
“Anybody who is “horning” their wife, who is committing adultery or who is involved in infidelity, I was offering a cash incentive for them to come on stage so I can render my song and portray what is happening in society,” Supersad said.
ABOUT THE CONTROVERSY
“Raj” became a social media sensation in November, last year, after a six minute video clip, depicting him being confronted by his estranged wife and father over an alleged extra-martial affair, went viral.
Some of the lyrics of Supersad’s song appear to be verbatim and paraphrased excerpts of the conversation in the video. A music video for the song posted on Youtube and viewed over 100,000 times, shows Supersad and actors re-enacting parts of the exchange.
In the pre-action protocol letter sent to Supersad on Wednesday, Raj’s attorney Wendy Ramnath-Panday claimed that the initial video totally misrepresented what had transpired and was repeated by Supersad in his song.
Ramnath-Panday claimed that the song breached the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Act as the video is now part of her client’s ongoing divorce proceedings. She also claimed that Supersad should have sought her client’s permission first.
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