Most music genres have a particular artist who is deemed the ‘top of the crop’ so to speak. It normally comes with a title be it the ‘King of Rock and Roll’ in Elvis Presley or the ‘Queen of Pop’ being Madonna. Some of these crowns are undisputed, just like in the case of Michael Jackson being the unquestionable ‘King of Pop’. In the case of Dancehall there has been a lot of talk as to who is the outright king and the logic does not hold here. Vybz Kartel or Beenie Man could be the kings so I think we just have to wait until they both put their pens down and drop their microphones for us to make such a claim. RnB has a rising star who has put his hand up and if he continues in the same vein of producing 30+ track albums, Chris Brown will undoubtedly be the ‘King of RnB’ displacing R Kelly.
When it comes to reggae there is one artist that immediately comes to mind and that is Bob Marley. Being the pioneer in the industry in the 1960s and having produced 13 studio albums and 2 live projects, Robert Nesta Marley assumes the role of ‘The King’. People may have different opinions, as they are entitled to, but Bob Marley has ticked all the boxes being the most successful Jamaican export. He stands out as the poster boy for Jamaica and the island’s culture. The young generation can forget about the riches of Shaggy or Sean Paul, Bob Marley was the real deal and his albums are a true testament to that and continue to sell.
So if Bob is the king who are the princes or princesses worthy to dine at the same table? Names that come to mind are, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Dennis Brown, Beres Hammond, Richie Spice, Desmond Decker, Capleton and Sizzla.
After looking at the above list it puts Bob Marley’s position into perspective emphasizing the talent of the great. The late musician was awarded Album of the Century by Times Magazine for ‘Exodus’ and he was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for ‘Catch A Fire’ in 2010.
Will Mr Marley’s bar ever be reached in the reggae industry? Is the bar too high? On the list of great reggae artists a few are from the current generation. One would like to think there are existing and emerging talents that will one day reach the feats of Bob Marley. Chronnix, Protogé, Koffee, and Tarrus Riley come to mind along with Capleton and Sizzla mentioned earlier.
Reggae needs another king or queen to keep the fire burning or it may diminish with Bob Marley’s name as time goes on.
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