Reggae and punk icon Don Letts reminisces about the emergence of Jamaican music in the U.K. in a clip from the documentary Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records. Following a year on the film festival circuit, the film is now available on digital streaming services.
“Black and white kids were united through their love of music and style; invariably, a lot of that music was the Trojan stuff,” Letts said of the famed Jamaican label that boasted artists like Jimmy Cliff, the Upsetters, the Maytals, Desmond Dekker and more. “I’m what you call first-generation British-born black. We really didn’t know where we fit in, and then we looked at Jamaica — we were of Jamaica, but we weren’t quite Jamaican either — so it took a long time for this ‘black and British’ to mean something.”
Letts served as videographer for the Clash, who were deeply inspired by reggae, before co-founding Big Audio Dynamite with Clash guitarist Mick Jones. “Early Jamaican music, for my parents, it would have kind of reminded them of back home, a place they’d like to return to,” Letts added. “But the music that was evolving out of ska and rocksteady, that would eventually form a large part of the Trojan catalog, is the soundtrack to my generation, and we weren’t going anywhere.”
Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records also features interviews with Lee “Scratch” Perry, the Specials’ Neville Staple, Marcia Griffiths, Dandy Livingstone, Lloyd Coxsone and more. The Nicolas Jack Davies-directed film is streamable on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube and Breaker.
“A film about the love affair between Jamaican and British Youth culture told through the prism of one the most iconic record labels in history, Trojan Records,” the label said of the film. “Combining archive footage, interview and drama – Rudeboy tells the story of Trojan Records by placing it at the heart of a cultural revolution that unfolded in the council estates and dance-floors of late 60’s and early 70’ Britain and how that period of immigration and innovation transformed popular music and culture.”