You know how I’m always complaining how good reggae is always under-used in skate videos? And how the worst Sizzla tunes tend to emerge too often -The exception being of course Cardiel’s in Sight Unseen? Well, one that came from far-left field was Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking, the 1978 top single produced by Joe Gibbs, as heard in Keith Hufnagel’s part in Penal Code 100 A (see the Comments section for Aaron Meza’s interview repost).
In order to know how the one-album barely-pubescent dynamic duo made of Althea Forrest and Donna Reid ended up in the quintessential mid-90s skateboard flick, I asked Keith how this whole deal came about.
Aaron Meza told me that you picked this tune. Had you known it for a long time before?
Keith Hufnagel: Yes I did pick the song and I had been listening to it for a long time before. I bought it from a 4-disc reggae collection called The history of Jamaican Music: Tougher Than tough.
I pretty much never took disk 3 [Natty Sing Hit Songs, 1975-1981] out of my car -where Uptown Top ranking was. This is one of the better reggae compilations, I highly recommend it. I didn’t really think about it until Meza asked me for a song. When he did ask me, I know I wanted to use it right away. That was it. I was set on it.
How did you convince Aaron Meza to use it, as he was reluctant at first?
He told me he wasn’t going to use it and I couldn’t believe it. I think I was just slowly putting it in his head how dope the song was and he finally went for it. The part would have been so different if he didn’t use the song.
Was there any conscious decision behind the fact that it says “Don’t pop no style” (in jamaican patois, “Nah Pop Nah Style”) and the way you skate? Like did you think, “Oh, these lyrics match my skating?” Or was it a coincidence?
I guess it was funny on how it went with the skating. I really just liked the uptone beat of the song. You do not find that in Reggae music much.
What other reggae tunes you could see fit well skateboarding -yours or a skate part in general?
I think reggae is hard. I really love reggae a lot but the beat is slower at times. To me skating needs to be faster and upbeat. So reggae music does not get used much.
What reggae tunes from other parts have you liked over the years?
I can’t remember the name but I know Matt Field had a dope one. It may have been a dance hall song though. [Keith is probably referring to either Horace Andy’s ‘Nice And Easy’ or Sizzla’s ‘Be I Strong‘].