Stephen “Ragga” Marley, the second eldest son of reggae legend Bob Marley, indulges us with his fourth studio album Revelation Pt. II: “The Fruit of Life”, the second installment to his traditional reggae predecessor Revelation Pt. 1: The Root Of Life. It boasts a collection of stimulating collaborations with the likes of Busta Rhymes, Rakim, Waka Flocka Flame, to Pitbull, Iggy Azaelea, and DJ Khaled to name a few. There’s no shortage of A-list contributors, making this record a grand amalgamation of reggae and its impact on all forms of modern music.
Hip-hop veteran Rakim combines with Marley in the record’s third track So Unjust, flowing through conscious messages and hard hitting topics in this boom-bap piece. Golden era production elements are married well with King Tubby dub attributes, echoed horn interests and stabbed guitar reggae amplitudes. Mastered with sharp exactness, it manages to execute simultaneously care-free, powerful yet inspiring and calming feelings for all of its four minutes duration. Hip-hop is firmly rooted in history that reflects a lot of Jamaican cultures, no doubt this is thematically administered by Marley and all of the contributors on this record. You can also expect complete modernist reggae jams on the album, channeling a certain early 80’s ska, rocksteady aura. The track Rockstone while commencing well, and keeping to a familiar flavour, loses the momentum as the last third of the track adds an unnecessary dubstep breakdown – distracting the comfort with an unpleasant confronting series of wobbles and over-saturated bass-lines. Walking Away is a reliable, flowing and gentle ballad giving a nod to an occidental, country, Amy Winehouse vibe. Strong Caribbean aesthetics emanate from some tracks like Ghetto Boy, envisioning truthful and honest street life perspectives with a reggae-heavy contemporary rap calibration.
Surprisingly, the tracks one would expect to unavoidably utilise the trap-filled heavy hip-hop shine, do well in fact to steer away from this, instead veer towards chilled out, subtle and fine R&B like elements. This is perceived favourably in Miami rapper Rick Ross’ featured track – The Lion Roars. The track with Waka Flocka Flame, Scars On My Feet, even stays true to this easy going movement, as Waka raps urgently yet articulately reserved – letting the vocals and singing style of Marley do most of the work. Stephen meets with his younger brother Damian “Jr Gong” Marley in the dancehall, Spanish guitar riddled volumes on the track Perfect Picture, whilst tracks like So Strong deftly empower a radio-friendly R&B love ballad with the distinct vocal additions provided by Shaggy. Revelation Pt. II: “The Fruit Of Life” wouldn’t be complete without a heavy dance music and mainstream direction, however. Reflecting this, it’s the DJ Khaled featured club-ready anthem; Tonight (It’s a Party). Fenced around a reggaeton, dancehall, and electro-trap housing, the track does well in bridging the historic waters between Kingston with the pop music skyline of Los Angeles.
Revelation Pt.2: “The Fruit Of Life” is a proper-documented visit through contemporary relevant music that directly has influenced Stephen Marley, and shaped his overall musicality. It’s not a traditional reggae album of sorts but succeeds in the feat of plugging into the unhinged contemporary potency of today, whilst carrying the flame of the Marley message. The multiple grammy winning, multi-instrumentalist continues to trickle forward a body of work capable of defining a genre, and time period, respectively.