Review Summary: "Money Can't Buy Life"
The death of a star is always an interesting thing to study. Over the course of 14 billion years, not much actually changes. The majority of the stellar figure is spent as a mid-sized, every growing object. As billions of years go by, the star grows larger and larger. Finally, ten billion or so years in, a change finally occurs. The star grows to its largest size yet, changes form and color, and becomes what we know as a Red Giant. Of course, this atomic expansion is met with an equally as powerful implosion, which later becomes a black hole. However, what the star does between its birth and death is the most important, right?
Uprising was and is Bob Marley’s Red Giant. Less than one year after the release of this album, the death of Jamaica’s favorite son would take place, making Uprising Marley’s own swan song. Although at the time Marley was undergoing cancer treatments and feuds with certain doctors, the album’s cover completely contrasts what was going in Marley’s life. Then again, could we really expect something pessimistic from Mr. Marley? The cover boasts a sketch of the sun rising over a high mountain with a huge Rasta man raising his arms in triumph. As if Marley knew his black holes was approaching the whole time, Uprising contains his finest works and his most meaningful messages out of all of his masterpieces. Songs like Zion Train and Forever Loving Jah are odes to Marley's Rastafari beliefs. Zion Train, a completely underrated song, yet possibly one of Marley's best of all time, almost predicts his own future. The lyrics here are probably some of the most memorable of any of his lyrics.
"Don't gain the world and lose your soul,
Wisdom is better than silver and gold"
His coarse vocals are perfectly aided by the bumping ragga beat and the ever-so-sweet Wailers. Marley addresses growing world problems through his songs, as well. The rise of cocaine as the popular, yet dangerous drug of choice in the late 70's is portrayed in Pimper's Paradise through a tragic tale of a young woman who is cast into addiction. Apart from Pimper's Paradise, Uprising is not an album full of regret, remorse, or anything in between. It seems the main theme of the album is preparing oneself for what is coming after life. This is something Marley was most likely doing whilst he wrote the album, as well. Work is a calling to do what we need to do in life to achieve the afterlife we all want. And, of course, there is Redemption Song. Redemption Song, while it is the only time Marley ever strays from the bumbling reggae path, is also the moment when he shines the most. Simply Marley and his acoustic guitar, Redemption Song is a calling to free yourself and your mind. The lyrics here are simply breathtaking and unforgettable. There is a reason Marley stands leagues above any other reggae artist of his day or the present day. Redemption Song is the final flame of Marley's Red Giant, as well as the end of the era of Jamaica's favorite son. Similar to any star, big or small, Bob Marley would go out with a bang, and a huge one at that. And what would he leave behind? For reggae, and music in general, it would be a big black hole.
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds"
- Redemption Song