Nick Cannon directs and stars in this high-energy musical about a young man from Brooklyn who gets caught up in the vibrant Kingston music scene during a visit to Jamaica.
Media mogul extraordinaire Nick Cannon stays busy wearing many caps and working many jobs. Cannon, America’s Got Talent host also acts (Drumline, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq), raps, is a television executive, does stand-up and manages recording artists, with Soulja Boy and Canadian-Jamaican Kreesha Turner. Did I mention that he just enrolled as a freshman at Howard University (is he Caribbean?).
So it should surprise no one that Nick Cannon is making his directorial debut. It is surprising,however that the film is a Jamaican musical called King of the Dancehall. In Cannon’s first venture behind the camera, he also chose to write, direct, star and fully finance the musical. The film premiered Sept. 11 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Cannon says he fell in love “with the people and the culture” of Jamaica a few years back while visiting the island with Turner. But it was the athletic, energetic style of dance on display that inspired him to make a movie about the scene. “I said to myself: ‘Why has there never been a mainstream film to capture this world — the romance and the sexiness?’”
King Of The Dancehall features an all-star cast, including Whoopi Goldberg, Busta Rhymes, Louis Grossett Jr, Collie Buddz, and Canadian-Jamaican recording artiste Kreesha.
Nick Cannon plays the lead male role of Tarzan, a Brooklyn drug dealer fresh out of prison, whose mother (Whoopi Goldberg) is ill and unable to pay her medical bills. Thinking of ways to raise cash, Tarzan decides to take his $5,000 nest egg and head to Kingston, where he hopes to strike up a new hustle exporting the island’s finest weed back to the heart of Babylon.
In Jamaica, he hooks up with his cousin, Toasta (Busta Rhymes), a selector who introduces Tarzan to the island’s dancehall scene, its vast network of fearsome gangsters, and his wife’s virginal sister Maya (Patterson), whose suspicious bishop father (Lou Gossett Jr.) keeps her under a watchful eye.
And the famed Jamaican beauties have their day as the description of King Of The Dancehall continues: “Lost amid the bouncing bodies and grinding hips, Tarzan needs the help of [Kimberly Patterson] to learn the right moves. But when another woman makes her move, Tarzan is faced with the romantic decision of his life, and a choice between two very different lifestyles.”
Patterson, a local make-up artist, makes her big screen debut in the role of the leading lady, and according to film insiders, she was specifically selected by Nick Cannon to play the part. In addition to the Jamaican acting and vocal talent, Jamaica was, appropriately, the location of choice.
According to the King of the Dancehall’s Jamaican producer Odessa Chambers “About 90 per cent of it was filmed in Jamaica,” . We love dat!
RCS SIDEBAR: Self-proclaimed King of the Dancehall, Beenie Man, participated in the film as the narrator. Also, making her movie acting debut is Jamaican media personality Nikki Z!