Idris Elba’s directorial debut, Yardie, is released this week. To mark the big occasion, The Big Issue sat down with the film’s star, Aml Ameen, at the Hackney Picturehouse in London.
Yardie is a loving adaptation of Victor Headley’s 1992 cult novel. As well as showing Ameen as main character D leaving Jamaica for London’s underworld on a revenge mission, Yardie also depicts the nascent soundclash scene in London. Actor Ameen went deep into the role, spending time in Jamaica, living in the accent and character during filming, and listening to a special playlist Idris Elba – who is also a DJ, hip hop and soul musician, and runs record label 7Wallace Music – made to help him get into the zone. It was, says Ameen, a musical education.
“Idris put together a playlist for us, I’m talking Ska, Punk Rock, Lovers Rock,” he says, reaching for his phone. “I have a Yardie playlist in here! We decided, me and Idris, to go method on this. Once I came back from Jamaica, no more Aml. I landed on set and people only met me as D – from the accent to the mindset and the way I interact.”
Here are some key songs, selected by Ameen, to get us in the mood for Yardie.
King Tubby – Roots Of Dub (1975)
This is my favourite one. Roots of Dub is all I listened to in Jamaica when I was preparing for Yardie. It takes me right back.
My family is half Jamaican and half Vincentian. I decided to go and live in Jamaica for two and a half months, that is how important this film was to me. A chance like this doesn’t come along very often, so it is vital the film reflects who we are – and it was a wonderful opportunity to connect with my family’s language.