If you ever wanted to have a handy guide on how to sell out your indigenous music to make yourself an icon of dorm room posters, then here is your chance. Music Think Tank has a story up detailing the efforts made by Bob Marley to push reggae to the mainstream, and it dissects how he became THE face of reggae. Here’s a sampling:
Thanks to Blackwell and Marley’s efforts, reggae became a kind of ”Black adjunct” to rock, a genre where the African diaspora could sound raw, rebellious, and raucous, without pushing racial buttons. (It is the sunny sound of Jamaica, after all, and it’s in English.) To get it there, Blackwell mixed in “White sounds,” but maintained the image of Marley and the Wailers as bold Black musicians. A complicated racial dance, to say the least.
Yet, even with all this gerrymandering of the Wailers’ music and identity, Marley won greater control of the final product, greater exposure, and greater compensation for his work than ever before. We don’t listen to Catch a Fire and think, wow, what a decent slice of 70s rock guitar playing or what a good bit of rock engineering. We think, wow, the Wailers are amazing and authentic and the epitome of reggae.
For more, go to Music Think Tank.