Kreesha Turner channels Jamaican roots in debut film ‘King of the Dancehall’

(CTVNews)-Nick Cannon’s name may be atop the marquee, but the newly minted filmmaker owes partial credit to Canada’s Kreesha Turner for helping make his directorial debut a reality.

The American entertainer was acting as manager for the Edmonton-born singer-songwriter when he accompanied her to Jamaica on business.

Turner’s ties to the island run deep, having attended high school there and her regular visits to relatives over Christmas and summer holidays. She credits Jamaica for helping her foray into music. Turner said she didn’t start singing until she was 16, after landing a spot in the church youth choir based on the strength of her rendition of “O Canada” in a solo audition.

“When inviting foreigners to the island, you want to show them the part of the culture that they wouldn’t see if they were just there as a tourist on their own. So I had the opportunity to take him to all of my favourite things in Kingston,” recalled the Juno Award-nominated Turner.

“Because I’m such a cultural ambassador to Jamaica, I showed him all the things that I loved. And he was fascinated and intrigued and inspired by it and ended up writing his script, and here we have ‘King of the Dancehall.”‘

Cannon directs and stars as Tarzan, a Brooklyn native who heads to Jamaica to enter the drug trade in an effort to cover the medical bills of his ailing mother (played by Whoopi Goldberg). With the help of his cousin (Busta Rhymes) he makes headway into the world of weed. When Tarzan arrives in Kingston, he gets swept up into the dancehall craze and gets help from Maya (Kimberly Patterson) to find his groove.

The pulsating reggae music — typically characterized by rhyming or singing over uptempo beats — was popularized by artists like Sean Paul, Shabba Ranks and Beenie Man and has influenced superstars like Rihanna and Drake.

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