Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records Directed by Nicolas Jack Davies

Rude Boy opens with a quote from D.J./filmmaker Don Letts: “Music is an open letter to the world…” It might sound corny, but that bit of optimism sets the tone for this documentary about one of the most iconic record labels in the world. The timeline begins with Jamaica’s independence from Brittan in 1962 and the rise of the sound system. Late-night parties staved off some of the stress of financial struggles and political uncertainty. Anecdotes in the film range from massive parties, unshakable gangsters, and serious competition to acquire new records and equipment. Talking heads include some of the most influential living reggae icons. Producer Bunny Lee, singer Derrick Morgan, filmmaker Don Letts, and Selecter vocalist Pauline Black are among those illuminating the details as both fans and participants. The stories are told with enthusiasm. Despite some of the bravado, participants come across as understanding they are part of something bigger than themselves.

Trojan was born out of mass immigration to London. Between 1955 and 1963 over 100, 000 Jamaicans relocated to England. This phenomenon brought reggae and rocksteady to the youth of England. Street cred elevated demand. Trojan began as a small distro in 1968 and ended in 1975 under the typical weight of problems and financial burdens. In just a few years they became the face of ska, reggae, and rocksteady. This film covers some well-worn territory with fresh attitude. If you know the basic narrative already, it fills in the holes nicely. If you don’t, it’s a compelling and efficient film about the rise and fall of an icon told without excessive drama. It’s sad some people got screwed in this process, but I walked away from this telling with a positive attitude. –Billups Allen (Pulse Films)