David Browne
May 31, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Jahmekya

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
genre
Reggae/Ska

We gave it a B-

To his credit, Ziggy Marley isn’t content to be a dreadlocked shadow of his late father, Bob, despite a chilling vocal resemblance. Marley seems to realize that traditional reggae can be a musical straitjacket, and with each album he has tried to broaden his (and the music’s) base. Jahmekya, his sixth and most opulent record, has its share of no-nonsense reggae, but he and the Melody Makers also incorporate spry Memphis-style organs and slinky Philly Soul licks, along with scratching and other elements of rap. Unfortunately, the songs — simplistic calls-to-arms for underdogs to overcome their oppressors — are their own worst enemy. After 16 tracks, you’re so worn down by the incessant proselytizing and repetitive chants that you don’t have the energy to (in the words of Bob Marley) either get up or stand up-never mind take to the streets to dismantle any and all callous governments. Close, but no spliff — er, cigar. B-

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