Updated: An earlier version of this story said that Serani was robbed in 2008. This version notes that the incident took place in January of 2009 around the Crucian Christmas Festival.
St. Thomas 𑁋 Jamaican musician and dancehall artist Serani attempted to settle the score with Crucians on Twitter and in an unpredictable turn was publicly roasted by residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. He is best known for his involvement in Sean Paul’s album The Trinity and his 2010 single “No Games” that has sold 400,000 singles so far.
Serani still holds a grudge with St. Croix residents a decade after his chain was stolen by two men. Diving deeper, the encounter is also tied to the public humiliation and ridicule he endured in the weeks, months, and years that followed.
Social media was still in its early stages in 2008 and Facebook was opened to the public for the first time the same year. In the aftermath of Serani’s St. Croix encounter, people began mocking his melodies with altered lyrics. Following the 2009 incident, Virgin Islanders swapped the lyrics to his hit song “No Games” with “it’s it’s it’s a robbery” when the song played or when the topic was discussed in social settings. High schoolers at the time who played his music were some of the biggest drivers of his public humiliation that spread like wildfire throughout the Caribbean and were social media pioneers before their parents created their first accounts.
Essentially, they were online and fairly young when the incident took place and are now working adults that still find the ordeal hilarious. Serani publicly disagreed.
The Twitter fight eventually evolved into a culture war, with the singer taking a swipe at the Virgin Islands’ culture, even going as far as calling the U.S. territory the “worst f***ing country.” Twitter users used the moment to give the dancehall artist a civics and history lesson, pointing that the U.S. Virgin Islands was actually not a country but a possession of the United States since 1917. Even going as far as calling him a one-hit-wonder whose music they don’t play.
“Yall culture is wack! St. Croix tryna be bad like us Jamaicans and have no idea what real badniss is,” Serani tweeted. “Shit like this never happen in Jamaica. We respect international artists and not gonna rob dem. If that ever happen in Jamaica the criminal would be condemned by every citizen.” Apparently, the topic is still a sore spot for the dancehall singer who is now promoting his new single titled “She Cry” on Twitter — which was also used as retaliatory insults against him.
A Twitter page later popped up with the name “I’m looking for Serani’s Chain” and was followed by a slew of users changing their Twitter names to make fun of him. Because Crucians didn’t rally around him or condemn the “criminal” that stole his chain, the singer-songwriter finds it hard to forget the 2009 incident.
What was most striking about Serani’s Twitter roast was observing residents and former residents living abroad from both the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands hold one head as the singer levied attacks on Virgin Islands culture. One user pointed out that the dancehall artist was robbed by a man who was acting alone, adding that Crucians could not be blamed for the actions of one person.
However, the Virgin Islands Police Department said in a statement that officers “arrested two suspects in connection with the robbery of Craig Serani Marsh and two other persons that occurred near a Christiansted hotel on January 5” of 2009. Richard W. Motta and Gregory Hodge, also known as D.J. Avalanche were arrested and they were both charged with robbery in the first degree.
Serani also said that he “doesn’t respond to negative comments out of this St. Croix incident” and noted that he was not afraid but was angered that his son would be raised fatherless if he was killed that day. The musician has no intention of performing on St. Croix in the future and apparently has added the surrounding islands, including the British Virgin Islands to his blacklist.