A young woman crash-lands her plane in Jamaica. A local named Countryman rescues her and leads her away from the authorities, who have fabricated a story about the plane, involving drug and arms smuggling by the CIA, in order to gain popularity in an upcoming election.
Ivanhoe Martin arrives in Kingston, Jamaica, looking for work and, after some initial struggles, lands a recording contract as a reggae singer. He records his first song, “The Harder They Come,” but after a bitter dispute with a manipulative producer named Hilton, soon finds himself resorting to petty crime in order to pay the bills. He deals marijuana, kills some abusive cops and earns local folk hero status. Meanwhile, his record is topping the charts.
Street vendor Marcia is scraping together a living in the ghetto section of Kingston, Jamaica. Her young daughter is being hounded by a rich sugar daddy who has been supporting the family; her brother’s life is being threatened by a local thug. So, when the licentious patron threatens to abandon the family, and her brother breaks down under pressure, Marcia hits bottom. She needs to escape to a haven where she can get lost in fantasy; Marcia, don in sex-me-up clothing and outrageous glamour, finds refuge in the beats of the very dance hall outside of which she normally vends.