Between documentary and cinematic remake, the story of the most famous Jamaican music label is also that of the love affair of the young British working class with the rhythms that emerged in the ghettos of Kingston.
The cultural impact of Trojan Records is undeniable and, especially in the United Kingdom, can be traced in the ska revival of the 2 Tone label, the Notting Hill carnival and in the expansion of the sound systems culture which in turn, would play a key role in the hip hop revolution and club culture. This film skilfully condenses the half century of history of the most important Jamaican music label, considered in its golden age to be “the Motown of reggae”. From the truck with which Duke Reid shunted his sound system by Kingston and that would give the name of Trojan to the original label to the years of apogee between 1969 and 1973 and the emergence of the “Trojan skinheads” in England in the image and likeness of the Jamaican “rude boys”, stopping by the most iconic recordings of the label by people like Dandy Livingstone, Lee Perry and The Upsetters, Toots & The Maytals, Desmond Dekker, Bunny Lee, Derrick Morgan or Bob & Marcia, whose version of “Young, Gifted and Black” by Nina Simone would become the Caribbean “Black and Proud”. The best assets of the documentary reside in the archive of street dances and in the dramatizations of historical episodes such as the fascination that the rhythms of ska, rocksteady, reggae and dub would stir among many working-class white youths, sharing a dance floor with young people who came from the Jamaican diaspora when the furious anti-immigration discourse of conservative politicians such as Enoch Powell still resounded.
And don’t forget that there are a lot of legendary oldies who have probably died as we write this.
Side program: Don Letts DJ session
English, Jamaican spoken / English subtitles