Monday, April 11, 2011

Just Like In The Movies!

I knew there was a reason I got married. Besides being the single most wonderful human being I’ve ever had the honour of meeting in my entire life, my Wife is just a very interesting person. She, like I like to claim that I am but clearly am not, is the type of person who can have a conversation on a wide variety of subjects - almost anything - but her specialty is actually movies. She loves movies, she watches them just about as much as I write about Reggae. Old movies, new movies and movies of tomorrow, she’s always watching films and she’s finally managed to contribute something directly to this blog as this most strange of ideas is one which is to be credited to her.

Essentially music is categorized like movies with different genres and different types being grouped within themselves under the grand ‘umbrella’ of MUSIC or MOVIES. In music we have Reggae, Soca, Zouk, Hip-Hop, R&B, Pop etc. while in movies there are also a nice array of different types to choose from - No matter what you like, there’s always something for you. But how might things look if we were to cross over from music to movies? Which albums might fall into which categories of motion pictures? I’ve done the hard work for you (because I know you spend every waking hour thinking about these things in great detail) in linking certain albums with some of the biggest movie genres - Just Like In The Movies.

{Note: Obviously I’m going to be sticking to RELATIVELY recent albums}
{Note 2: Albums listed aren’t necessarily the finest of their kind, but are the greatest examples of a particular category}
{Note 3: With one exception, I did specifically avoid ‘greatest hits’ styled releases}
{Note 4: I did also specifically try to avoid FEATURING a single artist more than once}
{Note 5: Biggup Bredz & Natural Black}
{Note 6: No Behaviour! None!}


“Art of War” [VP Records - 2002]

Rodney B. Price reprised his long standing role as the often troubled ‘Bounty Killer’ in this very dark superhero-ish tale about a very incensed and infuriated native of Kingston who rather immediately goes on a killing spree of all of his rivals (and potential rivals) in 2002, "Art of War". The most curious thing about this film was the fact that, although somewhat likable, at the end of the movie it’s still unclear exactly WHY the Killer takes aim at many that he does and you’re ultimately left wondering if he is super hero or super villain as he chooses, amongst other methods, guns, bombs and even poisoning to dispose of his mammoth list of foes. Perhaps it is somewhat telling, however, that nearly a decade later, Price has yet to retake up the legendary black suit and sunglasses in a starring role as the Bounty Killer again.

Best Scene: ‘Warlord Nuh Business’
2nd Choice: “Gangsta For Life” by Mavado


“D.O.B.” [VP Records - 2010]

In his retrospectively TRULY ridiculous third time donning the role ‘Busy Signal’, St. Ann born Reanno Gordon showed just how much he had grown from previous starring roles, ”Step Out” and ”Loaded”. The attraction to the seemingly (but not really) autobiographical ”D.O.B.” had to deal greatly with the fact that it was all over the place. While some critics panned the film for lacking a solid foundation others, still, lauded Gordon for his supreme level of flexibility and ‘resourcefulness’ as he had transformed Busy Signal from this flashy, but largely angry and agitated inner city youth into this world traveled and well accomplished adult whose interests ranged from Salsa to old school R&B and pinnacled on the movies most satisfying moment which took place in Italy. Were that not enough (and it was), Gordon also co-directs.

Best Scene: ‘Opera’
2nd Choice: The Diwali Riddim


“Higher Level” [Greensleeves Records - 2002]


The always interesting ‘Elephant Man’ wrapped up his three films in three years for UK studio, Greensleeves back in 2002 with arguably his most colourful starring vehicle to date, the three hour long ”Higher Level”. Voiced by the equally fascinating O’Neil Bryan, as was his norm, the Elephant Man served up this not for children, R-rated animated feature which clocked in at three hours long. And while it certainly could have managed to cut out the final twenty minutes or so, the one thing which can still be said about the film was that it remains one of the most exciting releases in a ‘career’ which hasn’t been lacking at all in that department, as nearly ten years later, the Elephant Man is still riding high.

Best Scene: ‘Higher Level’
2nd Choice: “Fiery” By Bunji Garlin


“Free Jah’s Cure” [J&D Records - 2000]

”Free Jah’s Cure” followed the much talked about story of almost eerily gifted young Mobay Reggae singer, Siccature Alcock who, in 2000, found himself only one year deep into what would ultimately become an eight year prison sentence for a controversial rape case. While the film was largely comprised of Alcock’s dealings prior to his incarceration, its star, in every form takes center stage when the viewer is quickly treated to his most damaging of voice. The ultimate question posed is just how long will the world be deprived of his talents and the trials and tribulations he went through to become known as ‘Jah Cure‘. A special cameo by a personal friend of the singer’s, Andre Johnson (as ‘Jah Mason’), during one of the most stirring moments of the film only adds substance to this incredible story of Jah’s Cure.

Best Scene: ‘Jah Bless Me’
2nd Choice: “7 Year Itch” by Protoje


“This Shit” [Penitentiary Records]

Hilarity and bullshit were at an all time high in this series of short and ultimately very bizarre stories from Penitentiary. Although they did certainly enlist A+ level stars such as Miguel O. Collins [as ’Sizzla Kalonji’] and Clifton G. Bailey [as ‘Capleton’], their appearances in the films, atrociously, were simply outcuts from other, previously released and larger grossing films! It was so odd to see ALL of the actors’ scenes built into movies which kind of moved independently around them, despite having no actual interaction with their environments at all. The geniuses at Penitentiary would simply ‘write’ or (more often) STEAL settings and situations from other films and digitally plop new faces into the mix with very very shitty CGI. Most reprehensibly was ”Burning Fire”, a film starring Collins, which was released twice with two different sets of stolen storylines as if no one had noticed - Quite arguably the funniest movie of all time.

2nd Choice: “Dutty Rock” by Sean Paul


“Gangsta Blues” [VP Records - 2004]

A Scene from "Gangsta Blues"

Once scalding hot superstar actress Tanya Stephens wrote in its entirety, co-directed, co-produced and then starred in this glorious Oscar nominated production from 2004, ”Gangsta Blues” - A film which loosely centered around a woman (Stephens) and her somewhat strange and intense relationships. Stephens, essentially, focuses on one man, Tarantula, but she feels conflicted over having told him one ‘Little White Lie’ and because of that (and the fact that she just wants to) she also fights the temptation to step outside of their union. The film was praised by critics across the globe for its ultra mature look at relationships in the inner city which Stephens graphically and brilliantly displayed on the big screen. Appearances by music stars Wyclef Jean and Spragga Benz (who plays outside interest ‘The Thug’) brought different eyes to the project as did a very steamy sex scene featuring Stephens. The film would also leave itself open for a sequel which was delivered in the form of the somewhat militant and critically acclaimed ”Rebelution”, just two years later.

Best Scene: ‘Boom Wuk’
2nd Choice: “Infiltration” by Assassin


”Distant Relatives” [Universal Republic/Def Jam 2010]


”Distant Relatives” charts the act of fusioning together, at the absolute highest living levels, two pretty similar genres in a format which hadn’t yet been attempted exactly - Between the son of Bob Marley and two time Grammy winner, Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley and Hip-Hop legend, Nas. The project would attract a great deal of attention at least two years prior to its release and would subsequently become, arguably, the biggest (half) Reggae album of the year (“biggest” in terms of stature). The film would show how well the two genres which, as previously mentioned, are fairly similar in terms of their origins, fit together and just how much audible chemistry they could have as well. In the end, regardless of what you think of the musical results, the two managed to produced an album which crossed over cultures and brought together groups of fans and critics alike who, unfortunately, RARELY get the opportunity to come together to support a single development.

Best Scene: ‘Dispair’
2nd Choice: “Ghetto Story” by [Baby] Cham


“Black Woman & Child” [Greensleeves - 1997]

While this film may not have elicited the type of ‘warm and fuzzy’ feelings one normally thinks about when viewing movies of the ‘Family’ category, it actually went one (several really) step further in this . . . UNFORGETTABLE stroke of genius, ”Black Woman & Child”. Written by the aforementioned Miguel O. Collins, who plays the film’s star, Sizzla, the film displayed a BEAUTIFUL Black family thriving in modern day Jamaica and all of the various trials and tribulations they encounter to remain functioning together, with a glaringly present eye on returning to Afrika someday (which is achieved near the end of the film) in the name of His Imperial Majesty. This movie has been described, accurately, as ‘prophetic’ and ‘inspirational’ throughout the near decade and a half since its release and the affection the masses seem to have for it only grows by the day. Collins would link for the first time with legendary director, Bobby Digital, with whom he would later produce two sequels for ”BW&C” and all three films remain classics to this none. Neither of the later two, however, brought the strength of the original - The greatest movie of all time. Period.

Best Scene: ’Black Woman & Child’
2nd Choice: “The Strong One” by Etana


“The Book of Angels” [Ruf Rex Productions - 2007]

Scene from "The Book of Angels"

Trinidad superstar, Machel Montano, once again brings the madness in his reprisal of his most famous role to date as . . . Machel Montano. In ” The Book of Angels”, Montano takes moviegoers on a fantastic trip set in the Trinidad Carnival Season of 2007. On his journey, he encounters (amongst others), ‘Vybz Kartel’ [played by Adidja A. Palmer], the oft-present Sizzla Kalonji and, of course, his trusty sidekick, Patrice Roberts. The story is that Montano is trying to reach Carnival Zion before the gates have closed, locking him out for an entire year. In the meantime, he encounters a group of ghouls while on his tour bus and (after FAR too much drinking) there’re radical dream sequences to Jamaica, India and The Land of The Rising Sun. In the films greatest twist it is Roberts, who decides to ‘Light It Up’, helping to save the day and joining our hero in Zion for one more year. After creating a Soca Heaven, Machel would followup the next year with the only appropriate measure, ”Flame On” - A journey to Soca hell!

Best Scene: ’Light It Up’
2nd Choice: “Far From Reality” by Natural Black


“The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip” [B Caribbean - 2010]

Scene from "The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip"

Shot in a documentary style of film, in ”The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip” we tune in on the everyday life of the ever-fascinating ‘Stevy Mahy’ who travels the world (literally) singing her sweet music. One of the most interesting aspects of the film, which was very popular in many different places is that it features a dazzling display of three-way subtitling from English to French to Creole and back and forth as Mahy and her friends have absolutely no problem at all switching between the three when speaking to one another or even in song. The film was also somewhat tricky, as critics pointed out, there was no real ‘story’ to it and it was . . . Kind of just Mahy singing without much problem, however, the actual plot of the film was revealed to those who paid a very close attention. It was to be beautiful and to seek out that beauty wherever it resided - Nothing more, nothing less.

Best Scene: ‘Beautiful’
2nd Choice: “Mon Oasis” by Kénédy


“Helta Skelta” [DJR Records - 2009]

If you’re not quite sure what you’re dealing with in ”Helta Skelta” from the opening credit, then perhaps it’ll be settled for you when, only a MINUTE, into the film, we’ve witnessed the murder of someone who was CURRENTLY digging their own grave. Starring Ewart E. Brown, the movie tracked the serial killing, angry and well agitated half man-half venomous snake, ‘Mad Cobra’, who stomps through the streets of Jamaica with a murderous intent and a hearty sexual appetite. In this movie would appear one of the most haunting moments in recent silver screen history as, having apparently demonstrated an otherworldly level of evil, on one raining evening Cobra is paid a visit to by Satan himself who, even in his royal level of perversion is unable to cope with the snake. Even more chilling was the film’s lasting final scene, which seemingly showed a repentant Cobra having changed his ways, only to reveal in a most subtle way, that his madness was still well intact.

Best Scene: ‘Poetic’
2nd Choice: “Mentally Disturbed” by Ward 21


“The Pressure Is On” [Tsuni Records - 2005]

Arguably the greatest ‘indy-flick’ of all time, ”The Pressure Is On” is a story which follows the story of young Delyno Brown [as ’Pressure’] in his native St. Thomas who is struggling to step into the limelight of Reggae music and take his career global after having worked to establish himself on the local and general Virgin Islands Reggae scene. In the film, Pressure eventually finds his way to the studio of Dean Pond and Eno Stafford who agree to produce an album for the talented youth. A chance encounter with Jamaican veteran, Glen Washington, who is touring the VI at the time also helps a great deal, as he agrees to do a song with Pressure as well, ‘When Dem Come’. By the film’s closing, Pressure has made his name as THE biggest act in St. Thomas and seems well on his way to superstardom, particularly when a call comes through from a certain Jamaican super producer.

Best Scene: ‘Zion Is Home’
2nd Choice: “Elixir” by Malika Madremana


The Martial Arts Riddim [King of Kings/Greensleeves - 2002]

This VERY expansive and ambitious project - two different three hour long movies released in the same 24 hour period - was helmed by the well experienced Cordell ’Scatta’ Burrell, who brought Kung-Fu to Jamaica in this ultra interesting piece which featured some of the Dancehall’s finest ‘warriours’ actually showing what they REALLY had in the battle. In the first installment, things are kept really light as the story is defined and sparring is featured by the likes of Sizzla Kalonji (again), Leonard Bartley [as ‘Merciless’], the legendary Rexton Gordon [‘Shabba Ranks’] and even ring card girl Cecile Charlton [as herself] gets in on the fun. The real fun, however, comes in the immediate sequel which features skirmishes between Capleton, Elephant Man and the likes before the ‘final’ battle between ’Beenie Man’ [played by Anthony M. Davis] and the notorious ‘Bounty Killer’ takes place.

Best Scene: ‘Karate’ featuring Sizzla Kalonji
2nd Choice: “Bad From Mi Born” by Munga


“Sacrifice” [Don Corleon - 2007]


This SWEET vignette styled ‘compilation’ of small stories starred Alaine Laughton who played a Lady Cupid - the angellic ‘Alaine’ who encountered pairs of potential and feuding couples who were starving for just a little ‘boost’ in the romantic directions and attentions of one another. While she spends vast majority of the film hooking others up, the ending features a twist where Alaine, herself, is bitten by the love bug and she is faced with the choice of ‘sacrificing’ her immortality for her human love (which is definitely ’No Ordinary Love’ shared between the two) . . . Who just happens to be a very successful Reggae & Dancehall super producer from Jamaica who enjoys placing random calls to St. Thomas.

Best Scene: ‘No Ordinary Love’
2nd Choice: “Romain Virgo” by Romain Virgo


"Face à La Réalité" [Don’s Music - 2007]

Scene from "Face à La Réalité"

The ghetto streets of the Mortenol District of Guadeloupe may not seem like the greatest of locales for a science fiction thriller (or anywhere else in Gwada for that matter) (biggup Gwada), however they played an EXCELLENT host for "Face à La Réalité" which was somewhat of a coming of age story for young Saïk who, much like Guadeloupe national hero, Admiral T, dreamed of soaring amongst the stars. IMMEDIATELY it is clear that Saïk’s talent is simply off the charts and perhaps even greater than those of the currently sitting cosmic maestro, so when the recruiter for the space program returns to the island to find a potential replacement for the Admiral (who has taken time off) (to start a clothing line), the youth is in the tiny group of potentials chosen. Eventually, when faced with having to take the controls to save the entire crew from certain doom, Saïk has to rely upon the only female on board, the even younger Methi’S who teaches him to navigate the sun and the two link to create a LEGENDARY story with one another.

Best Scene: ‘On Sèl Doktrin’
2nd Choice: The Time Travel Riddim


“Raw” [VP Records - 1998]

And then there was ”Raw”. This very controversial film from 1998 is well noted because it features a very mature woman, ‘Lady Saw’ [played by Marion Hall], who instead of playing a victim and someone who is doing something which she does not want to do, is empowered and COMPLETELY in control of surroundings. The results were somewhat comical (as her fellow ‘performers’, when lacking in a certain area, or a certain skill, weren’t on Lady Saw’s radar) and steamy as well as Hall also played director on the action. The movie also dealt with relationships in general and answered the now legendary question of what exactly did (or didn’t) happen under that ‘Sycamore Tree’.

Best Scene: ‘Stab Out The Meat’
2nd Choice: "Ruff Rider" by Tanya Stephens


  1. I know they smell good...but you really shouldn't smoke your household cleaning chemicals! LOL