Entertainment

Grass gets greener on Netflix

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Monday, April 22, 2019

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Grass is Greener, a documentary looking at the historical bond with music and ganja, debuted on Netflix last Saturday. That date, April 20, was recognised as 4/20 internationally by advocates of the once-maligned plant.

Directed by hip hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, the film has input from several high-profile artistes who have championed legalisation of ganja, including Bunny Wailer, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Snoop Dogg, and B-Real of rap group Cypress Hill.

“My hope, as I light one up on 4/20, is that this film will entertain, educate, and enlighten people across the country and around the world about the rise of marijuana, the racially motivated reasons behind its initial criminalisation, and the economic ramifications that continue to affect entire races of people,” said Fab 5 Freddy in a press release.

The documentary marks a first as director for the 60-year-old Freddy, who made his name as a cutting edge graffiti artist in New York City during the late 1970s and early 1980s. His murals complemented the rhymes of early rappers like Kurtis Blow and Afrika Bambaaata.

He interviewed Wailer in December 2017 at Pinnacle in Sligoville, St Catherine, which was once home to a thriving Rasta community led by Leonard Howell, considered by many to be the father of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica.

Pinnacle was raided several times by the police. One of those expeditions reportedly unearthed an illegal ganja operation on the compound; another, in 1954, effectively closed the commune.

Grass is Greener largely focuses on the bad rap ganja got in the United States, especially in black and Latin communities. It looks at rigid programmes instituted in that country, like those of President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, to suppress use of ganja.

While many of pop culture's heroes, including Wailer, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and hip hop icons like Snoop Dogg openly smoked ganja, Grass is Greener offers insight into conservative artistes such as Louis Armstrong, who was known to smoke a spliff.

The documentary's theme song of the same is performed by Asadenaki (Wailer's son) and Blvk H3ro. It will be officially released on May 3 by DubShot Records out of New York.


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