In the bustling streets of Kingston, Jamaica, Ivanhoe Martin, portrayed by Jimmy Cliff, arrives with hopes of finding work and making a name for himself. Despite facing initial challenges, his raw talent catches the attention of the music industry, and he secures a recording contract as a reggae singer.
In the recording studio, Ivanhoe pours his heart into his debut song, “The Harder They Come,” which quickly resonates with the masses and climbs up the music charts. However, the euphoria of success is short-lived as he encounters a manipulative producer named Hilton, played by Bob Charlton. Their bitter dispute leads Ivanhoe into financial struggles, and he finds himself resorting to petty crimes to make ends meet.
Amidst the hardships, Ivanhoe becomes entangled in the dangerous world of marijuana dealing and crosses paths with abusive cops. In a desperate bid to protect himself and his dreams, he takes matters into his own hands, resulting in an unexpected turn of events. Ivanhoe’s actions earn him a reputation as a local folk hero, hailed by some as a symbol of resistance against corruption and oppression.
As his record continues to dominate the airwaves, Ivanhoe’s dual life as a rising reggae star and an outlaw becomes a complex balancing act. The music that once brought him joy now serves as a bittersweet soundtrack to his tumultuous journey in the vibrant streets of Kingston.