Wed | Dec 7, 2016

The 'plane' truth of music

Published:Sunday | September 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Spragga Benz
Teddy Bruckshut - Contributed
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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 ... ."