Jamaican dancehall star Vybz Kartel has reportedly used a "strong agent" to lighten his skin.
Rollingout.com is reporting Kartel has said "this is my new image," referring to his new lighter skin tone. "You can expect the unexpected. I feel comfortable with black people lightening their skin. They want a different look. It's tantamount to white people getting a sun tan."
Blogger Amir Shaw says Kartel's choice to lighten his skin stems from a "deeply rooted self-hatred that has permeated the black community for hundreds of years."
"White slave owners often created discord between dark and fair skinned slaves to minimize the chances of a slave revolt. As a result, that form of thinking was passed along through generations of black culture," he wrote in a blog post.
Sales of skin lightening products in the U.S. are expected to increase nearly 18 percent by 2015, reaching $76 million annually, according to market researcher Global Industry Analysts. Last year the Chicago Tribune tested 50 skin-lightening creams and found some had high levels of mercury -- enough to potentially cause kidney damage.
Kartel has been nominated for the Source, VIBE and UK MOBO awards, although his 2004 UK MOBO award nomination was withdrawn after he refused to apologize for homophobic lyrics in his music.