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Stephen Marley Mind Control Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

'Mind Control' is a competent first release; the work of an artist with one foot in...

Angus Taylor 2007

Stephen Marley may not be the best known of Bob’s children (that would be either first born Ziggy or rising star ‘Junior Gong’ Damian) but his musical CV is surely one of the most impressive.

Followers of Capleton will remember his blissful, eerily detached guest vocal on ''Sunshine Girl'' from 2004’s Reign Of Fire, but he has also sung with the Melody Makers, the Fugees and Erykah Badu; produced half-brother Damian’s three solo albums including 2005 smash Welcome To Jamrock; and is a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist in his own right. Now, after years spent upstage and behind the mixing desk, this five time Grammy winner has stepped into the foreground with solo debut Mind Control.

Such a well-rounded musical pedigree and obvious cross-over potential were unlikely to result in a straight-up reggae album, and of the eleven tracks only ''Lonely Avenue'' and the clearly Bob-inspired ''Chase Dem'' tread this well worn path. Instead, Mind Control is a slick blend of hip-hop and dancehall (first single ''The Traffic Jam'' on the ‘Answer’ rhythm) funk (the title track) nyahbinghi (''Inna De Red'') and even a touch of reggaeton (the vocoded ''Let Her Dance''). The production has all the polish you’d expect from such an experienced studio man, and every tune has a solid pop hook.

For some the similarity to Bob’s voice will be a turn-off, especially on the more political songs where Stephen can’t resist using a few of his father’s ‘Scratch’ Perry inspired vocal tics. Yet when stripped of affectation, Stephen’s singing has a cool precision that is all his own, and the less derivative tracks are a worthy addition to the burgeoning genre of Jamaican hip hop, which harks back to the more organic mid 90s sounds of its American antecedent. Upbeat but reflective, Mind Control is a competent first release; the work of an artist with one foot in the past but his eyes on the future.

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