Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Website 'Withoutabox' Crashes Under Deluge of HBO Access Writing Submissions Website 'Withoutabox' Crashes Under Deluge of HBO Access Writing Submissions Taraji P. Henson Named 2015 American Black Film Festival Celebrity Ambassador Taraji P. Henson Named 2015 American Black Film Festival Celebrity Ambassador Erykah Badu Joins Andre Royo & Emayatzy Corinealdi in Amazon Original Series 'Hand of God' Erykah Badu Joins Andre Royo & Emayatzy Corinealdi in Amazon Original Series 'Hand of God' Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios to Shut Down in December (But is It a Good Thing?) Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios to Shut Down in December (But is It a Good Thing?) Steve McQueen Is Directing a Music Video for Kanye West's Latest Single 'All Day' Steve McQueen Is Directing a Music Video for Kanye West's Latest Single 'All Day' If You've Been Waiting for It to Get There, 'Half of a Yellow Sun' Is Now Streaming on Netflix If You've Been Waiting for It to Get There, 'Half of a Yellow Sun' Is Now Streaming on Netflix Wesley Snipes Inks First-Look Development Deal with Sony Pictures Television Wesley Snipes Inks First-Look Development Deal with Sony Pictures Television 2016 Oscar Outlook - 15 Black Actors, Actresses, Directors, Films That May Be in Contention Next Year 2016 Oscar Outlook - 15 Black Actors, Actresses, Directors, Films That May Be in Contention Next Year Premiering Tonight at 10pm: 2-Part Documentary 'Freeway: Crack in the System' on Al Jazeera America (Trailer) Premiering Tonight at 10pm: 2-Part Documentary 'Freeway: Crack in the System' on Al Jazeera America (Trailer) Trailer for Animated Feature Film Inspired by True Story of Afro-Arab Slave Who Became "Voice of Islam" Trailer for Animated Feature Film Inspired by True Story of Afro-Arab Slave Who Became "Voice of Islam" Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge to Star in Scripted TV Series Based on the Underground Railroad Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) Mo'Nique Said She Was Paid $50,000 for 'Precious' + Responds to Lee Daniels "Play the Game" Advice (Video) 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later 'Cooley High' Writer and Cast Reflect on the Film 40 Years Later Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series Attn. Actors: African American & Latino Men & Women Sought for Major Roles in Baz Luhrmann's Netflix Drama Series So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? So What’s Byron Allen's $20 Billion Lawsuit Against Comcast, Time Warner, Al Sharpton & the NAACP all About? A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral A New Edition Biopic Might Be Coming to a Theater Near You If This Fan-Made Trailer Goes Viral HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship HBO Seeks Diverse, Emerging Writers for HBOAccess Writing Fellowship Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Review - 'The Story Of Lovers Rock' Educates, Entertains & Inspires (Opens In NYC Today)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 19, 2013 at 12:29PM

Opening today at MIST Harlem cinemas for a 1-week run, courtesy of ArtMattan is Menelik Shabazz's The Story Of Lovers Rock.
1
Lovers Rock

Opening today at MIST Harlem cinemas for a 1-week run, courtesy of ArtMattan is Menelik Shabazz's The Story Of Lovers Rock.

Call it a 90-minute trip down memory lane, Menelik Shabazz’s The Story Of Lovers Rock plays like a love letter to a style of music, the era in which it was born, those who were responsible for its creation, and those who embraced it, ensuring its longevity.

From its beginnings in the mid-1970s, in the UK, as an offshoot of Reggae – a romantic brand of reggae as Shabazz put it, that would eventually become an internationally exploited style of music - Lovers Rock served both as a tool of empowerment for its fans – a group made up of mostly young black men and women, first generation Brits, the children of immigrants primarily from countries of the Caribbean, searching for identity and a style they could claim as their own; it also provided healing for that same generation, in a time when the country was facing extreme racial polarity, and blacks especially were victims of institutionally-sanctioned prejudice and acts of violence by white racists.

The music was clearly an important cultural element that had quite an effect on the generation that inspired its creation, and the musicians it would later influenced, top-selling artists like UB40, The Police, Culture Club, and Maxi Priest.

And as music is often accompanied by dancing, Lovers Rock produced a style of dance that proved to be very important to the music; a style of dance called the scrub, or the rub, a slow, intimate dance that was all about bodies “scrubbing” or “rubbing” tightly against each other (usually in pairs), in darkened clubs, while the music, bouncing off the walls in these compact spaces, moved them physically and emotionally.

The film also speaks to a generational divide, between the young black Brits of today, who Shabazz (one of those young enthusiasts of the music during what he depicts as its most glorious period) suggests aren’t intimate in ways his generation of Lovers Rock lovers were, and are lacking in the kind of revolutionary spirit, thanks in part to differing socio-political climates (then and now).

But thankfully, Lovers Rock doesn’t use up minutes denigrating today’s youth, nor chastising them for their perceived lack of, shall we say, consciousness and even radicalism (when compared to their parents who came of age in the 70s and 80s), as much as it so clearly cherishes the memories of the music, time and place - a starry-eyed romanticism that I’d say director Shabazz would probably love to relive, or revive.

Call it a history lesson, but an entertaining one, a fusion documentary, which includes dance, live performances, archive footage and comedy sketches that were improvised, which help break up the reminiscing, peppering up what could have been an otherwise languid collection of interviews recalling the pleasure of the music style’s peak periods that, while initially captivating (especially if you’re interested in learning about that which you don’t know or never experienced), start to become a bit monotonous by the 3rd act.

And the *insider* nature of the film (like old friends coming together and evoking pastimes) may make it less a pleasure to watch for those who aren’t already somewhat familiar with the many musicians who are interviewed.

But, in the end, it’s director Shabazz’s obvious passion for the music, the dance it inspired, the place, time, mood, and spirit of the times that really propel the film.

A trip worth taking, that should educate, entertain and even inspire.

This article is related to: Menelik Shabazz


Shadow & ActNewsletter