Stephen Marley

Got Music? (Ghetto Youths/Universal)

When Stephen Marley croons "Let me out, let me out, I'm an angry lion" during "Iron Bars," strains of Nesta sparkle in the indifferent rage. Indifference, for the Marley family, does not imply a lack of compassion. It's their laid-back assessment of social and spiritual topics that made reggae's first family globally revered: the insight that life is serious but the connection to something beyond is the first commitment. For Stephen, Got Music? is a long-awaited beat on the Nyabinghi infamy his namesake has created. The production hands behind brothers Damian, Julian, and Ziggy, Stephen debuts with 11 gorgeous samples of bluesy, rootsy, Jamaican folk crisply polished with studio brilliance. Unlike the dance-hall bravado of Damian or the rock atmospherics of Ziggy, Got Music? is a predominantly acoustic affair (though Stephen does electrify on "Chase Dem" and "Mind Control"). Experimenting with Delta blues ("My Way") and beautiful ballads ("Inna Di Red"), Stephen's future legacy is similar to Papa's: poetic lyricism sung with heartfelt honesty. When admitting his failure of partnership in "Fed Up," speaking from an impatient lover's side, he commendably exhibits self-reflection. The entirety of Got Music? is such a mirror, and the image returned is luminous.

 
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