I remember the first time I fell in love. I was in a backyard in Jamaica, Queens and my boyfriend had taken me to a wedding reception for a friend of his family. Me, a Yankee, was in a sea of Yardies who were deep, deep into a Gregory Isaacs tune.
As I sipped my rum punch and watched couples dance, whispering into each others ears, my man held out his hand and pulled me close. In that backyard, pressed together, we danced. I didn’t care that my heels were hurting my feet or that the smell of weed would surely get all in my hair, I just closed my eyes, and savored the moment. That night I fell in love with him, and the music my Belizean grandmother and uncles would often play.
Recently, I saw the trailer for The Story of Lovers Rock, a new documentary by director Menelik Shabazz and was instantly transported back to that Queens backyard. The film takes a look at Lovers Rock, an UK offshoot of reggae music that champions love, lust, and getting close.
Created in the ’70s against amid racial tension, London’s Brixton riots, and the struggle of many Jamaican immigrants to fit in, Lovers Rock is often called “romantic reggae.” The film, which debuted in September and is currently showing around the UK, sheds light on many of the musicians responsible for the genre.
The Story of Lovers Rock features live music and interviews with Denis Bovell, UB40, Levi Roots Linton Kwesi Johnson, Angie La Ma, Maxi Priest, and Mykaell Riley.
What’s your favorite romantic reggae song?