Over the decades the musical culture in America has changed considerably. From psychedelic to rock n roll, disco to heavy metal, punk rock to soft rock. Now hip-hop and rap seem to be the current musical Infatuation In our era. Yet we’re forgetting that somewhere In that time frame, around the sass’s a music form known as reggae emerged from the little Island of Jamaica, and with It came a man that will never be forgotten. HIS name was Robert Nests Marled although he was better known to us as Bob Marled and he changed our world forever. Marble’s music was unleashed on
America and the world in the mid to late ‘ass’s with explosive popularity. For unlike much of the music that had been heard, Marble’s work was so much more than Just music it was a message for all to hear, a message that we could better the world in which we live. Marble’s beautifully constructed lyrics inspired and moved people to not sit quietly and do nothing while their world is being destroyed by the evils of violence and racism. Bob Marled without a doubt helped lessen the problems that plague this world but racism and violence amongst fellow human beings Is certainly till occurring.
So one cannot help but speculate, If a single artist can have such a positive Influence on so many people through his music then why are our current chart-topping music artists not following In his footsteps and doing the same? Bob Marled Is undeniably an icon of social change within not only America, but also around the world where his music has been heard. Author Anthony Bogus in his article “Get up, Stand up: The Redemptive Poetics of Bob Marled’ even goes as far as to compare Marled to Martin Luther King Jar. Engine the evidence that they both Todd strongly for social change in a time when we most surely needed it. Bogus writes, “common to both King and Marled was the universalism, a commitment to social change, and the fact that both were prophetic voices whose visions of a new world were rooted in the struggles against racial domination and oppression” (563). However Is It really fair to compare a dreadlocks head, ganja smoking reggae artist to one of the greatest men In American civil rights history?
The answer is most definitely yes; Marled Is more than worthy of this comparison, for Just Like King he was a figure o whom the oppressed people could look up to for hope. He stood for what he believed in and he didn’t back down no matter what the consequences may be. For instance, in December of 1 976 Marled was asked to play at “Smile Jamaica”, a free outdoor concert that was organized by the Jamaican Prime Minister as an attempt to plea for peace and ease the tension between the two warring political groups.
But two days before Marled was scheduled to play at the event two cars full of unknown gunmen broke into his house with guns blazing and seriously wounded Bob in his chest and arm. Nevertheless when it came time for Marled to perform he walked out on stage and did so. This man had a mission and he wasn’t going to allow anyone to stop him from spreading his message. He once said “God sent me on earth, he send me to do something, and nobody can stop me. If God want to stop me, then I stop. Man never can” (573).
This Is Just one example of the man’s dedication to his cause of using music and the music Industry as a source to spread his message to the masses. Marled couldn’t be more unlike the artists of today in the sense that his rather he had a greater purpose. Again Bogus talks about this in his piece, saying “[Marled] consistently navigated the music business, trying not to get trapped in it’s glitz and glamour, since for him the Justification for the entire enterprise was the use of his artistic gifts as a medium of prophetic social criticism” (564).
With our rap and hip-hop artists of today it seems that money, cars and “blind-blind” are their necessities. They measuring their success based on how many Beverly Hills mansions they own rather than how many people they’ve inspired or how many lives they’ve changed. When this happens they loose sight of what truly matters. In another article titled “One Love” author Robert Palmer further reinforces the truth that Marled never faltered from his objective of informing the world about the suffering and oppression that so many less fortunate, poor human beings were and currently are experiencing.
Palmer states, “[Marled] never lost sight of the emotional center of his art – his people, the suffers of Truncheon, of greater Kingston, of all the world’s ghettos. They placed their faith and hope in him, and he did not let them down” (570). Yet when it comes to our rap artists who originate from poor urban spinsterhood or “ghettos”, Just as Marled once did, their music doesn’t sing (or rap) about hope and change. Instead, from what Vive heard they sing about such things as being revolting against the law by using phrases like “F@#K the police”, now that’s inspiring.
I have to wonder what kind of change they hope to accomplish with messages like these? Although Palmers article touches a little on Marbles message within his music, it mainly centered on the history of Bob Marled and the Wailers, laying out the details of their rise to international stardom. While in Bogus article he mess to focus on talking about how Marled “belonged to a prophetic black radical tradition” (Bogus 564), using “symbolic insurgency’ to primarily strive for the equal treatment of African-American.
Though this may be true, Marled strongly believed in equal treatment for all, no matter what the color of their skin may be. Be it, Whites, African-Americans or Hispanics, to Marled it didn’t matter, he sang his message for all. This is never more evident than in such songs of Marbles as War, where he sings that human beings will always be fighting wars, “until the philosophy which hold one ace superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned” and “until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes”.
Nowadays, with our most popular musical form being that of hip- hop and rap, you will never find lyrics like that of Marbles in any of these songs. Instead all we seem to hear when we listen to this music are lyrics about committing violent acts. Instead of “one love” they sing about busting’ a cap into another person’s ass. Instead of “redemption songs” they sing about discriminating women by offering to them as female dogs and hoes, which I thought were gardening tools.
If Marled were still alive today he would be disgusted to hear the lyrics and the kinds of messages that the artists of our days are singing about. In fact these artists are singing, representing and even glorifying exactly the opposite stance in which Marled had taken towards the issues of violence, oppression, and discrimination. They should instead be learning from Marbles example. They should understand how much of a difference music that sings of change within our world can lift people up and influence them to take a stand. This is so significant because with our artists tasteless form of entertainment.
While the musical artists of today are quite different than Marled they still share one thing in common; they have the power to influence their listeners through their music. Fortunately, unlike the artists of the present, Marled chose to influence his listeners with positive messages that truly spoke to them. When I say “them” I don’t only mean the oppressed or the poor or the minorities but everyone, for “the beauty of Marbles music is that while it holds a special significance for the sufferers of this roll, it speaks to any listener with an open heart” (Palmer 574).
Marled understood that with the power to influence mass numbers of people comes the responsibility to use it in a positive and constructive manner. I’m not one to point fingers but the music artists of today are not using their power responsibly. This may be the reason why crime rates are pup, and gang related violence is more frequent. Musical influence can play a huge part in a person’s life, especially if that individual is young. Perhaps this is why we have seen so many horrible and unnecessary school hooting happen within the last decade.
Music artists need to understand the kind of power they possess. They need to understand that they have fans in this world that desire to be Just like them, so it is crucial that they watch what they preach in their music because even if they don’t mean what they say there is some adoring fan out there who is going to listen to those lyrics and follow them like instructions. Yet admiring an artist to this degree only becomes dangerous when the message within that artist’s music is dangerous. So why are these songs with their dangerous assuages so popular in our culture?
Is it because songs that sing of universal peace and love stopped selling when the ass’s died? Or is it because we as a people have just become increasingly more violent? Whatever the reason one thing is for sure, music artist of today must learn from Marbles work for he managed to “to forge a visionary music that opposed the tide of violence and celebrated the rhythms of life” (Palmer 574). This was exactly the sort of music the world needed to hear in the sass’s and it is exactly the sort of music we need to hear now!