May 14, 2018 Ziggy Marley – Rebellion Rises (Album Review)
Finding a connection to all humanity, it is a battle for love and peace, rising above the chaos. Absorbing that for a moment, the 8-time Grammy winning Ziggy Marley’s Rebellion Rises is set to drop through Tuff Gong Worldwide on Friday, May 18, 2018.
Immersion in music from an early age has created a humanitarian, writer, musician, and artist that has crossed cultures and generations. Marley’s first children’s album, Family Time, won a Grammy Award for “Best Children’s Album” in 2009, while another children’s book, I Love You Too, earned the artist a 2012 Daytime Emmy for a special sharing the same name. Now, a battle-cry in Rock/Reggae style, Marley’s seventh studio album is also his first release in two years following 2016’s self-titled solo effort, which won Grammy gold for “Reggae Record of the Year.”
This time around, the backstory for the 49-year-old’s latest began when his solo career created an opportunity to channel the soul of his father, now blending in Rock sensibilities after working with Flea and John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers on “Rainbow In the Sky” from 2003’s DragonFly. He also worked with Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads with Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, and exposure to this is reflective in the groove created on this record. Rebellion Rises was written, recorded, and produced by Marley, who, surrounded by the power of the family and the ideology he was brought up with, shaped a musical revolution onto record.
The method for delivering the message may change, but the solutions Marley offers up stay the same regardless of the artist’s medium. On Rebellion Rises, from the opening notes of “See Dem Fake Leaders,” it is obvious this is a political slasher-fest. The beauty here is the message. Now a father of four, Marley is pushing back in the name of love and unity; while fear might permeate every aspect of humanity, love can conquer all. A man of not just words but also action, Marley’s foundation U.G.R.E. (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment) connects communities with children in need of help.
Contrary to Childish Gambino and his message that has brilliantly exploded thanks to a video for “This Is America,” directed by Hiro Murai and produced by Jason Cole, this is a revolution that will smash together each belief system and arrive at a truth. Then there is “Storm Is Coming” with its lilting attempt at illumination, a call to batten down the hatches. Placing a lyrical focus on the earth and its destruction, this is a trip set to soaring guitar; placing Marley’s talents in the spotlight and offering up some great guitar-work to punctuate the message.
Following it up with “World Revolution,” this cut is Marley at the songwriter’s finest. Putting the spotlight on the generations to follow, each illusion of chaos created by political, social, and religious institutions take all the lies and toss them out into a pile. Listeners can sort out their own truths, but Marley suggests that to build that wall of positivity, leave the crap behind.
It would not be very hard to argue the point that humanity has forgotten what commonality and common decency are. Nearly halfway through the ten-song album, “Your Pain Is Mine” soars with this emotional connection; black or white, our skin color really should be irrelevant in a perfect world. Life is tough enough and this cut is a burden shared in song. Another link, “Change Your World” is a flashback to “Is This Love” by Bob Marley from his 1978 release Kaya, possibly the most influential Reggae love song, also released through Tuff Gong. Now set to take his place alongside his legendary father, this track could change listeners into Ziggy Marley lovers, provided they have not already been touched by the magic.
Met with horns right off, “I Will Be Glad” is a celebration set to music. Simple and soothing, the truth is sung in a chorus of love, blessing listeners; this is beautifully simple, authentic vocals with hope the underlying wave. Following with “High On Life,” this cut is like sunrise at the ocean, its spiritual essence an undeniable rhythm; positivity breeds positivity. Feel the Jamaican sway of the ocean breeze with its salt air and crashing waves; it is here, alive in the music.
The final three songs are a call to action: a coming together for dreams to come true set to a calypso beat with kettle drums and spoken word. With its message of peace, togetherness, and strength in numbers, there is a reason this album is called Rebellion Rises after all. Driving that point home, “I Am A Human” picks apart every reason society gives for wars, conflict, and social injustice. Musically rich instrumentation does not overshadow the message; rather each piece fits together, working perfectly to create a beautiful tapestry of sound. Stunning to the ears of this listener, this is a cut above the rest in its battle-cry of peace and love.
Closing out, the title-track “Rebellion Rises” is a Pied Piper call to positive action; a collective conga line with reverb and bongos, simple statements to battle hate with love. Ziggy Marley is a humanitarian musician on a mission here: believing that love is a connective tissue and positivity will conquer all, as it will always spread faster than fear or hate. Starting with children and grooving up through the ages, love is the answer.
Politically and socially relevant, Rebellion Rises is a war of music, creating peace with a purpose. For this, CrypticRock gives Ziggy Marley’s Rebellion Rises 5 out of 5 stars.
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