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Reggae music and Rastafarianism tonight on VH1's Marley documentary

Anissa Ford's picture

Bob Marley’s music is embedded in Rastafarianism.

Tonight, VH1’s rock doc “Marley” features concert footage, an intimate visit with Bob Marley, his life and music with the Wailers. The doc travels the globe and includes concert footage including a Lyceum Ballroom show from 1975 in London.

Bob Marley is worshipped as the King of Reggae Music because he was the first international reggae star on the planet.

When Marley’s music elevated and reached world masses, pedestrian conversation on reggae music and the act of selling out to commercialism diminished because Marley’s music was more than reggae ambassadorship, Bob Marley introduced the world to Rastafarianism.

Rastafarianism, since then, equals marijuana smoking, peaceful resolution, the Lion of Judah, red, gold, green, Marcus Garvey, Haile Selassie and untamed dreadlocks. In addition to its many other tenets, Rastafarians of Marley’s day “threw away the comb”--a frightening, but pure and politic rejection of western societal norms.

VH1 says the doc examines how Marley’s “competitive attitude, affections of women, and activism” led to his fame. “Activism” may likely be translated to Rastafarianism, a binding religion and a culture of men and women called into the Rastafari culture.

Much of Marley’s music attacks the racial and social conscience of its listeners without hostility, anger or violence—a feat hip/hop music cannot yet celebrate. That’s because reggae music in purest form, reggae music like Bob Marley’s, is rooted in religion and The Old Testament. Hip/hop's hierarchy may resemble the African American church, but it's lyrics lack devotion and love for God and spirituality found in Gospel rap music.

There are few international reggae artists who are temporally connected to Marley’s era—Burning Spear, Black Uhura, , Steel Pulse, Israel Vibration, and Culture for example, who make and have made music without the conscious weaving psalms and Bible verses as lyrics.

In fact, Rastafari pushes forward black biblical faces. Rastafari contends Daniel, King David and Abraham and many biblical, heroic others were black men from Africa. (See Steel Pulse’s “Not King James Version.”). Rastafari contends Africa is the center of the universe and all men originated from the African continent.

Marley, the documentary, was released at a small and “intimate screening” in March 2012 at SXSW. There is footage of his show in Jamaica with Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster Jamming” from 1980 is an R&B tribute, perhaps the only R&B tribute, to Bob Marley’s reggae music and the Rastafarian spiritual preference for peace over war. Marley died in 1981.

Marley’s son, Stephen, is said to be named after Stevie Wonder. Stevie Wonder’s birth name is Stevland Morris. Stephen Marley was born in 1972 in Wilmington, Delaware. Stephen Marley won a Grammy for this year for his album, Revelation, The Root of Life.

The rock doc has photos from Marley’s younger days, interviews with Marley, record producers, engineers, band-mates and executives. Marley’s mother, cousins, children Ziggy and Cedella, his wife Rita and his girlfriends also interview (VH1).

The stain of Marley’s legacy is his battle with cancer. A battle he surrendered to God rather than medical treatment. Even when sick, with cancer in his lower body (some reports say the source of Marley’s cancer was a foot--Marley was an avid soccer player--) Marley performed with the Wailers all over Europe and Africa.

Marley airs tonight at 9pm EST on VH1. The doc runs two and half hours.

Marley's performance live performance of "Rastaman Vibration"on the YouTube video begins at 15:43.

Photo: Bob Marley, Facebook/Album

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