Bob’s firstborn son speaks out in defense of his father

On April 22, the veteran reggae star Buju Banton launched his new album, Rasta Got Soul (Gargamel Music), with a big event at the University of The West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. The Banton spoke at length about <a title=”Gleaner on Buju” href=”http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20090426/ent/ent1.html” target=”_blank”>the earliest days</a> of his distinguished career, divulged Shabba’s penchant for honey-coated spliffs, and proclaimed his wish that <a title=”Buju For Gays” href=”http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/Entertainment/html/20090423T030000-0500_150058_OBS_RASTA_GOT_SOUL__FOR_EVERYONE___INCLUDING_GAYS.asp” target=”_blank”>even gay and lesbian listeners</a>embrace his latest release. But it was another of his off-the-cuff remarks that resonated the loudest, sending shockwaves around the world.

“You know they say that the greatest musician in Jamaica is Bob Marley,” Buju told the rapt audience. “I don’t believe that because we have greater musicians to come. Bob was the most promoted, and well promoted, and we have to appreciate that because it’s our culture. But don’t kill our culture… Enough is enough.”

Although the crowd at UWI reportedly applauded his remarks, Buju’s words were not as well received outside the lecture hall. Jamaican media and websites around the world have been flooded with outraged remarks from music critics and Bob Marley’s millions of fans.

During a recent visit to VIBE’s Manhattan offices, Ziggy Marley shared his thoughts on the matter. The Grammy Award-winning recording artist—whose latest releases include his own Family Time, and a collection of his father’s classic songs remixed for children, entitled B is For Bob—laughed for a long time when Buju’s remarks were read back to him. Then Bob’s firstborn son spoke his mind.

“Me love my father, you know? And me love all of my elders and my heroes. And I would never say anything to put down any of them. From Bob to Toots to Peter to Bunny—I wouldn’t say anything to put down any of those guys. You understand? I lift up them. Those are our heroes. We lift them up. We don’t put them down.”

After a momentary pause, Ziggy added the following: “My father wasn’t a person who brag about himself. It’s what he has done that has made people speak of him how they speak of him. He just does his music and that’s it… You got people who think differently but my father and a lot of these artists, you can’t even talk about them in just the sense of Jamaica. It’s the world we haffi talk bout. So that’s all me have to say, we lift up our heroes we don’t put them down.”

But according to Tracii McGregor, President and General Manager of Buju Banton’s label Gargamel Music Inc., the whole thing has been blown out of proportion: “Buju didn’t say anything to slight the great Bob Marley—not at all,” she said via telephone. “Buju is not the first person or lover of reggae music to say this. This is the reality. We can’t have an industry revolve around one person.”

McGregor blamed the news media for fanning the flames of controversy. “This man spoke for almost an hour and a half, and for them to take one line and take it out of context and out of perspective, I was so hurt. He also talked about Bob’s sons and the affect on their music. They are not allowed to create and develop in their own way. People always compare them to their father—I know it’s frustrating for them. And other artists have suffered because they don’t come from that lineage. The industry has kept it like that. Still to this day major record labels don’t know how to market this music.”

So is this the settlement of all argument… or the start of a whole new round?<em>To watch Ziggy Marley’s Boomshots video interview, tune into</em> <a title=”vibe.com” href=”http://www.vibe.com” target=”_blank”>VIBE.com</a>.</div>
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