Recording artiste Buju Banton says that Bob Marley is not the greatest Jamaican musician and that this fixation on the reggae icon has hurt the growth of the music.
|Banton… I want Jamaican music to be seen not through the pretext of some man that died 20 years ago|
Banton respects Marley’s music but argued that calling him the greatest logically implies that no better can follow.
“I want Jamaican music to be seen not through the pretext of some man that died 20 years ago, but as a pretext of a living being, working earnestly. If man cannot do what others have done in these times we might as well die,” he told a mixed crowd at the launch of Rasta Got Soul, his new album, at the University of the West Indies on Thursday. “You know they say that the greatest musician in Jamaica is Bob Marley. I don’t believe that, because we have greater musicians to come. Bob was the most promoted, and well promoted and we have to appreciate that because its our culture but don’t kill our culture with one living one. Enough is Enough.”
Currently Bob Marley’s album Legend continues to top iTunes reggae charts in every major reggae market except Japan, even as Mavado, Banton and Jah Cure released new albums this month. Downloaders in 19 of the 22 listed countries are buying Marley’s 1984 album above any other reggae album on iTunes, arguably the Internet’s most popular online music store. These online sales will add to the album’s sales which have surpassed 20 million. Comparatively, the average reggae album sells some 5,000 units worldwide.
Banton’s comments received claps from the crowd. He then evidenced his point with reference to Marley’s sons who receive the brunt of the comparisons. “Bob had nine sons, allow the youths to be who they are destined to be, because once you do that they automatically fade away. Don’t line me up with anybody. Don’t parallel me and then you find you kill I. I can learn from the great ones and can learn by the wheel, but I don’t want to be that someone who you only see in that shadow,” said Banton who had been compared to Marley with his 1995 release Til Shiloh.
That album had songs in the reggae folk tradition with Untold Stories being its classic hit. Even 14 years after the release it’s frequently compared with Marley’s Redemption Song. Til Shiloh had set the standard for subsequent Banton releases, but Banton has been torn between two lovers: dancehall and reggae. But on his new 15 track album both genres are included. Banton released Reggae Got Soul via his own record label Gargamel Music Inc, via a Tommy Boy distribution deal.