Review Summary: Ziggy's on his own.
When you think about it, Ziggy Marley should have it made. As one of the many offspring of Bob Marley, Ziggy should have been able to use his inherited gift for reggae to his advantage and brought reggae back to the mainstream once he came of age. However with his fourth album titled Wild and Free
, it’s apparently not about the music but the culture once again. Ziggy’s last album, Family Time
, was a children’s album, and while being filled with children’s themed songs, it was still a more enjoyable reggae experience than most of his endeavors tend to be.
The theme surrounding Wild and Free
is evident from its inception. While the cover art doesn’t scream outright for Ziggy’s support for marijuana like he, himself does, the title track has no trouble doing that. Featuring fellow supporter Woody Harrelson, “Wild and Free” was a song written by Ziggy in support of Proposition 19 in California for the legalization of marijuana. It’s good to see another Marley kid following in their father’s way. While Harrelson’s appearance is met with a bit of humor, his talents are best left to the big screen. The other notable guest spot on the album belongs to the third track when Heavy D joins Ziggy briefly for “It”. While Ziggy’s voice blends in to the rest of the music (as most of the tracks do) Heavy D’s rapping brings favorable memories of 2010’s reggae-hip hop collaboration Distant Relatives
from Ziggy’s brother Damian and Nas.
The rest of the album is stylistically dedicated from Ziggy to his late father. The songs, while very similar to that of Bob’s music, are just not composed and written as well as his were. At times, most notably with “Get Out Of Town” and “Roads Less Traveled”, Ziggy’s voice sounds draining and almost whiny. Given the years that have gone by since Bob Marley’s influence has faded, it is easy to explain the large amount of reggae fusion musicians of the modern times by looking at the natural progression of music. With this new fusion there is an obvious movement from the Wailers-era roots sound of reggae. Ziggy’s fusion of reggae with rock is not only tiring, but saddening that as a Marley, himself, he can’t produce anything with a decent enough tempo to keep you from falling asleep when you’re skipping work on 4/20.
It’s not that Wild and Free
is a terrible album, it’s just that it’s not a dignified reggae album. Perhaps it’s exactly what Ziggy intended for, but for it’s intents and purposes it’s just not what great reggae should sound like. His voice is starting to sound tired, he’s getting lazy with his songwriting and the fact that he stylized his album cover after a marijuana leaf just isn’t creative by any means. He may be a Marley by blood and surname but he’ll always be out shined by the work of his brother Damian and of course, his father.