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Celebrities here for Buju's concert

Friday, March 15, 2019

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British actor Aml Ameen is among the celebrities in Kingston for tomorrow's Long Walk To Freedom concert featuring Buju Banton at the National Stadium.

American music producer DJ Khaled, who arrived in the island last Sunday, will also attend. He was among the first to visit Buju Banton after his release from prison late last year. Khaled is also using the opportunity to work on his much-hyped album, Father of Asahd, set for release in May.

Ameen's visit coincides with the local release of the film Yardie in which he plays the lead character. The film was directed by Idris Elba.

The Jamaica Observer caught up with Ameen in New York and he was excited about the Long Walk To Freedom.

“It's all about the moment. I really just had to be in Jamaica for this concert... it's historic, man,” he said. “The man was away for so many years and this is that first moment when we get to see and hear him, it is nothing short of magical. I just got some brethrens together and said let's do this. I just had to be part of that vibe... it's almost Marleyesque,” he continued.

“I am really an old school reggae music kinda guy. I was heavily influenced by the music of my parents growing up in London. So, I grew up on artistes like Buju and just really love the music. While I was here in 2017 shooting Yardie I really got a chance to absorb the culture and the music even more at the source, became a big fan of the music at Kingston Dub Club, so this Buju Banton moment is massive for me,” the 32-year-old said.

Ameen was born to a Jamaican mother whose roots are in Clarendon. His father hails from St Vincent.

Growing up in the United Kingdom, Ameen was aware of Jamaican author Victor Headley's ground-breaking novel Yardie through his parents. When he was approached by Elba to star in the film adaptation, he jumped at the opportunity.

“I was on a flight with Edris from London to Los Angeles and we began talking. He commented on my work in a film he had seen called Maze Runner and told me he wanted me to play the role of D in Yardie. I immediately signed on. This was such an honour for me. I would be able to represent my family's culture and stretch me as an actor. That period, the early 1980s meant so much to my parents and I wanted so much to record it in this nature. Plus, the film humanised the gangster and made you see the full back story of what causes this kind of behaviour,” he explained.

Yardie, which has Jamaicans Shantol Jackson, Sheldon Shepherd and Everaldo Creary as co-stars, is playing at Carib 5 and Palace Cineplex in Kingston, and Palace Multiplex in Montego Bay.

— Richard Johnson


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