Two of Jamaica's most popular deejays sat down in the prime minister's office Tuesday, a rare face-to-face meeting between warring musicians whose rivalry police say promotes violence.
Prime Minister Bruce Golding requested the session with Adijah "Vybz Kartel" Palmer and David "Mavado" Brooks as the number of homicides on the Caribbean island approaches the record 1,674 set four years ago.
Nearly 1,600 slayings have been reported so far this year, and police contend the DJs' factions are gangs that use their rivalry as an excuse to commit crimes.
The two DJs agreed to hold a peace concert and remove graffiti encouraging their rivalry, among other things, said Bishop Herro Blair of the Faith Deliverance Center church, who attended the private meeting along with the government's ministers of education and national security.
"We had a very frank discussion about what we expect from our artists," Blair said. "They have agreed to join and try to defuse the matter."
The rivalry between Kartel and Mavado began four years ago, but it has intensified since late last year. Graffiti across Jamaica has fueled the feud, with their factions' nicknames _ "Gaza" and "Gully" _ increasingly scrawled on sidewalks, overpasses and abandoned buildings.
Gaza refers to the working-class town of Portmore, where Kartel hails from. Gully is the Cassava Piece neighborhood in St. Andrew parish where Mavado was born, a group of shacks along a stretch of gullies.
The majority of Gaza and Gully supporters are dancehall fans from poor communities, but also include the world's fastest man, sprinter Usain Bolt. He recently announced his support for Gaza and invited Kartel to sing at a fundraising dance Sunday.
Both Kartel and Mavado are known for violent and sexually explicit lyrics and have been arrested on several charges including assault and illegal gun possession that were later dropped.
Neither DJ could be reached for comment after the meeting at the prime minister's office.
Kartel has told local media his differences with Mavado are strictly musical. Mavado played down the rivalry in a recent newspaper interview. "I just want the youths who say 'Gully' or 'Gaza' to know that it's just music," he was quoted as saying.