The 'plane' truth of music
Melville Cooke, Gleaner Writer
There are many handfuls of gems of lines in that classic movie, Shottas. One of them comes when Teddy Bruckshut is a passenger in a vehicle being driven by one of his goons.
The man, physically much larger than Teddy, and appearing to be Hispanic, is speaking ill of Teddy's enemies and all is going well until he calls them "those banana boat mother ... ." Very abruptly. Teddy gets very serious and says with extreme venom, "Don't make me hear you say nutten about banana boat again."
There are no prizes about how Teddy, soon to be made 'of blessed memory', got to the US.
And there is a banana boat connection with Jamaican popular music through Junior Reid, who requested, 'no call me no banana boat man'. This is even though it is clear that the persona in the song, John, did leave Jamaica on a boat with the fruit:
"How John reach a foreign him no have no passport
Never travel through Norman Manley airport ...
How him leave out pon a banana boaat
Now him a run tings
Reach up a farrin an' a run tings."
That Norman Manley airport, features in Shottas as well, for that is where the freshly deported Ky-mani Marley is met by Spragga Benz and Paul Campbell. In Shottas, Marley is a deportee - and the airport gets a lot of camera time in the visuals to Buju Banton's Deportee as well, with the sign featuring intermittently throughout the video.
It even goes as far as to show a flash of the arrivals and departures board.
In a country where to cross borders means crossing water (after all, that is the nature of islands occupied by one nation), with a long history of migration and indigenous music forms which have carried performers far and wide, the aeroplane naturally has frequent flights on record.
There is the determination - near desperation - to leave the country in Daddy Lizard's late 1980s Haffi Fly Out Pon a British Airway
"We haffi fly out
Pon a Air Jamaica
We haffi fly out
Pon a Eastern Airline
We haffi fly out
Pon de new Concorde
We haffi fly out
Pon a Cayman Airline
We haffi fly out."
The sound of the jet engine figures at the beginning of Capleton's huge 1990s Tour, the song talking about the situation which greets him as he returns to Jamaica from "preaching, teaching the people fi tour".
Joey Wales simulates the standard cabin announcement in Water Come a Mi Eye, as the Jamaican is on a plane going into New York. His introduction to the song is, "Now, ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts. We are about to land in New York."
And the plane references go as far as to figure in the cussing between females in Spragga Benz's 1990s She Nuh Ready Yet, when he deejays "you a no passenger plane, a gal a ValuJet".
Not to be left out is Busy Signal's advertisement for Air Jamaica, the little piece of Jamaica that once flew:
"We love Jamaica shout out Jamaica
Look all around nowhere nice like Jamaica
People all over want to visit, get them roast breadfruit and banana
Under the tree with a glass a lemonade
Jump inna de river when we ready fi bathe
Travel all over the world still nowhere compare to Jamaica
Jamaica love, we want to feel Jamaica love
Everybody wanna visit Jamaica
Jamaica, love Jamaica
Jamaica love, we wanna see Jamaica above
Air Jamaica represents the people of Jamaica ... ."