Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Review - Chant Down Babylon

Artist: Bob Marley

Posted on Wed, Dec 1, 1999 at 4:00 AM

Chant Down Babylon
Label: Tuff Gong/Island
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Chant Down Babylon

On "Chant Down Babylon," Stephen, Damian and Julian Marley have assembled an impressive cast of hip-hop and R&B artists to deliver Marley's message to today's consumers. Erykah Badu, the Roots, Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, Busta Rhymes, Gang Starr's Guru and Chuck D are all in attendance to pay tribute. But mere tribute is not enough reason to lay down tracks, and too often this comp seems an exercise in not-so-savvy cross-promotion.

Producer Stephen Marley simply doesn't dig deep enough to make the journey worthwhile. The tracks are rebuilt upon the foundation of original recordings of the elder Marley's vocals, and this is the saving grace -- and fatal flaw -- of "Chant." There are a few stunners, however: "Johnny Was" (featuring Guru) has hints of protest-filled scrappiness. The Roots' "Burnin' and Lootin'" updates the original's emotional poetry. The Marley kids would do well to stipulate that the performers here listen more closely to what the old man has to say.

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