The documentary film “Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall” first premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York to sold-out audiences in three showings in June 2023. Fans of Jamaican American and dancehall artist Shaggy were excited to see his name in the credits as its executive producer. The film follows the impact that Jamaican immigrants have had on the development of the dancehall genre in the United States.
“Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall” in the Netherlands
On October 22, 2023, the documentary was screened during ADE2023 at the Melkweg Cinema, a theater in Amsterdam in the Netherlands that is dedicated to showing music films. The Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is one of the most influential and educational gatherings for electronic music in the world and will offer over 1,000 events in 200 locations over five days and nights in Amsterdam. The event is co-sponsored by Jamrock, the top platform and party focused on reggae, dancehall, and soca in the Netherlands; Caribbean Creativity, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the Caribbean and cinema with Caribbean themes in the Netherlands and beyond; and Africadelic, a platform and festival based in the Netherlands to promote the cultural creativity, diversity, and activism of Africa. ADE2022 featured a panel discussion about how dancehall evolved in the Netherlands with representatives of the Dutch dancehall scene, including Kalibwoy, Steesko, and Danime.
Timely and Culturally Relevant
In addition to Shaggy, the documentary was co-produced by James Cole, Leo Matchett, and Mike Musante. It was released at a time when the Jamaican dancehall genre had experienced a decrease in sales and some of its top performers, including Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, were unable to travel. The producers note that the film features previously unseen archival footage that illustrates the journey the music took from Kingston to Brooklyn, as well as the power of music to unite people.
Jamaican Influences in New York
Written and directed by filmmaker Ben DiGiacomo and co-director Pierre “Dutty” Vannier, the film is an exploration of how dancehall emerged in the 1980s and 1990s when immigrants from Jamaica brought the vibe, music, and dance moves of their home country to New York City. The city then became the home of a significant movement in which dancehall rose up with hip-hop and spread throughout the US. It highlights acts like Supercat and depicts hip-hop’s critical role in dancehall development through collaborations with performers like Biggie Smalls. The documentary also features stories from the likes of Sean Paul, Ding Dong, DJ Kool Herc, Bobby Konders, and Miss Patt of iconic recording label VP Records, among others, as it follows the impact that dancehall made on the culture of New York City.
“Bad Like Brooklyn Dancehall” in Chicago
The film will be shown at the Black Harvest Film Festival in Chicago, Illinois, on November 4 and 8, 2023. The film’s director, Ben DiGiacomo, and producer, Amy DiGiacomo, are scheduled to attend on November 4. The Black Harvest Film Festival is an event held every year in Chicago to showcase films that celebrate, explore, and share Black, African American, and African Diaspora experiences. The festival screens shorts and feature-length films and is held at the Siskell Film Center.