September 2007

Stephen Marley - Mind Control
Universal Republic Records – B0008354-02
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by Shannon Holliday

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

As the second son of Bob Marley, Stephen Marley has been surrounded by music since birth. Though he has been behind the scenes producing, writing and collaborating with others for years, it is only now that he has released his debut album. Somewhat of a perfectionist, Marley spent months editing and reworking the songs on the album until he was satisfied. The wait was worth it. Mind Control is a solid, inspired album with depth of emotion and breadth of style.

Acknowledging that reggae has come a long way since the days of his father, Stephen doesn't hesitate to bend his basic sound into multiple genres. With elements of roots rock, R&B, dancehall, calypso, and hip-hop styles, Marley's approach is inclusive and worldly. A slew of guest performers, including Ben Harper, Mos Def, Illest8 and brothers Damian and Julian, enhance several tracks. "Traffic Jam" is a classic dancehall groove that addresses the issue of police harassment over possession of marijuana, despite its significance in Rastafari culture. The title track questions the role of technology and globalization in restricting freedom. The production is slick, suited better for nightclubs than Trenchtown thugs, but the beats are backed by live instruments and souped up with a heavy horn section. As with most reggae, the sound is bass heavy and reverberant.

As the first solo release of Stephen Marley's musical career, Mind Control is not to be taken lightly. It is only a precursor to that which is still to come.