IMC closes with Jamaican première of Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall doc

March 1, 2024

article reposted by Chelsea


The second Island Music Conference came to an exhilarating close on Sunday, February 25, with the highly anticipated première of Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall in Jamaica for the first time.

This groundbreaking documentary, directed by the dynamic duo Ben DiGiacomo and Dutty Vannier, takes audiences on a captivating journey through the evolution of dancehall and its profound impact on American hip hop and vice versa.

Produced by the visionary team of Amy DiGiacomo, Jay Will, Ben DiGiacomo, Ramfis Myrthil, and AJ Leon,
Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall is said to be more than just a film; it’s a cultural phenomenon.

It made its grand début at the illustrious Tribeca Film Festival in June 2023, setting the stage for an electrifying exploration into the roots of reggae music.

The première was prefaced by a panel discussion hosted by creative source Carlene Samuels and with participants composer and educator Seretse Small; artiste Tessellated; Lexi Chow, founder of Caribbean On Demand All in on Place (CODA); and Clarissa Reformina of Raedio. The theme was ‘SYNC, Scoring et al Caribbean Music & Film’

With the success of the Bob Marley: One Love movie breaking box office records, Shaggy and Jay Will wanted to share the Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall documentary with a local audience to get their feedback.

Before the film started, Jay Will addressed the crowd in Courtleigh Auditorium: “We wanted to show this to a Jamaican audience. It was originally supposed to be called the Fifteenth Parish, as people call New York. A lot of things happened for us to be able to make this film, including getting grants.” Shaggy added, “When this project first came to me, I brought it to Jay Will. It is about the story of a dancehall that has grown outside of Jamaica. Many Jamaican records became international because of what was happening in New York, the 15th parish. This documentary shows the journey.”

The documentary opens with a nod to the rebellious spirit of reggae, born in the 1950s, but initially shunned by radio deejays. This resistance only fuelled the fire of innovation, leading to the rise of sound systems that championed local music. As the film unfolds, the audience witnesses the migration of VP Records to New York, where the label’s tireless efforts to educate the masses about reggae music shaped the careers of countless artistes.

New York City emerges as a hotbed of creativity, with basement parties and clubs becoming the epicentre of the West Indian community’s vibrant culture. The film spotlighted iconic dancehall artistes like Super Cat and Shabba Ranks, whose magnetic presence and infectious beats captivated audiences worldwide. It also celebrates the contributions of trailblazers like Shaggy, Grammy-Award-winning dancehall deejay Sean Paul, Ricky Blaze, Bobby Konders, Future Fambo, Ding Dong, Red Fox, Babyface aka Lionface, Screechy Dan, and Kurt Ali.

The cinematography and editing by Ben DiGiacomo are masterful, capturing the energy and essence of the music. Amy DiGiacomo’s screenplay weaves a compelling narrative, while Shaggy, James Cole Jr, Leo Matchett, and Mike Musante lend their expertise as executive producers.

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