Review: ‘Jamaica House’

As events for Black History Month come and go, El Camino’s Marsee Auditorium was the site for “Jamaica House,” a documentary by Alfred Gragg dealing with one of the biggest clubs to ever grace the hip-hop culture.

The documentary took center stage on Feb. 9 as a 30-minute documentary with a guest panel at the end was shown.

“Jamaica House” recently entered the Long Beach Indie Film Fest and won Best Documentary Short. The filmmakers are still trying to make the documentary into a feature-length presentation, earning the funding through a Kickstarter account, according to the film’s website.

Gragg said to the audience after the documentary was done that “Jamaica House” was a thing of love.

The film itself focused on the 1990s rap and reggae culture in South Los Angeles, and featured cameos from artists like Big Boy, DJ Mark Luv, The Pharcyde’s first disc jockey, as well as The Pharcyde’s former member Fatlip, among others.

After the 30-minute documentary, a special panel of people came onto the stage to answer audience members’ questions. On this panel was writer and director Gragg, DJ Luv, Lady Tigra from the group L’Trimm, Fatlip, Eddie Donaldson, Trevor “DJ Trev” Broadbank and Will Lamar.

Eddie Donaldson said that Jamaica House was a place to vent.

“L.A. lost one of its best clubs,” DJ Mark Luv said about the closing of “Jamaica House.”

The film brought memories of “Straight Outta Compton,” only as a documentary rather than a biographical film. It had some good scenes, such as seeing 2Pac the first night of the Los Angeles riots in Watts.

The documentary even had a scene of The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, performing with Puff Daddy, known as Diddy nowadays.

It goes so far as to show the Rodney King beating and what the club owners at that time did as they grew in attendance starting form the underground scene to mainstream.

If to rate “Jamaica House,” the documentary earns a solid three-and-a-half stars out of five.