CD Review of Mind Control by Stephen Marley

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Mind Control
starstarstarno starno star Label: Universal Records
Released: 2007
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Legendary reggae artist Bob Marley’s second son has branched out from his tenure with older brother Ziggy’s Melody Makers and finally released his solo debut at age 34. While the album veers between brilliant and pedestrian, there’s enough of the former to mark Marley as an artist to keep an eye on. Boy, does he ever sound like his dad.

The title track follows in the socially conscious tradition of “Get Up Stand Up” and not only would Dad be proud of the song, it’s exactly the type of jammin’ and political commentary about the powers that be that Bob would be writing if he were still on the planet here in early 21st century:

Don't let them mold your mind
They want to control mankind
Seems like their only intention is to exploit the Earth
And you trust in their deceit
Your mind causes your defeat
And so you become an invention to distort this Earth
Propaganda and lies, is a plague in our lives
How much more victimized, before we realize (hey)
It’s mind control, mind control
Corruption of your thoughts (yeah), destruction of your soul

“Hey Baby” features a guest spot by Mos Def, but falls flat with its clichéd lyrics asking for a girlfriend’s indulgence. Several other tracks leave a similarly tepid vibe. But Marley gets down to business with “Iron Bars,” a groovy hip-hop influenced cut about the incarceration experience with guest spots from Julian Marley, Mr. Cheeks and Spragga Benz. Be mindful if you’re listening in the car, though – those police sirens are on the track.

Another great track is “The Traffic Jam,” a funky party song with a guest spot from Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley, which sounds great cranked up loud. “Chase Dem” is a classic reggae vibe and another conscious commentary on the sorry state of modern politics.

“Inna Di Red” closes out the album with some late-night chill and a guest spot from Ben Harper. The track offers hope that the transcendent irie vibe can overcome all. If Marley can muster up more songs like “Mind Control,” it just might.

~Greg Schwartz