Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Responding to Bob Marley Vs Culture

Drumming Pen always has overwhelming feedback. They will be times like today where I will bring such feedback to the fore for the rest of its followers to appreciate how others out there appreciate the work that is done here.
Here below is a response to an entry that compared Legendary Bob Marley and Joseph ‘Culture’ Hills which was written by Richard Likukuta
“Your entry in the Malawi News edition of May 12 to 18 raises an interesting debate that compels me to join.
I can imagine how tense the situation was, as the two groups tried to outdo each other, as to who is superior between Marley  (Bob Marley)and Joseph Hill (A.K.A Culture).
To begin with, I strongly feel that there is reason to have a brief background of the two musicians first (before we compare their music) which may eventually separate the two if at all.
Bob Marley was born on February 6, 1945, while Joseph Hill was born on January 22, 1949. This means that Marley was four years older than Hill. They were both song writers and lead vocalists of their respective groups. Their music is mostly influenced by the social issues of their home land and gives voice to the specific political and cultural connection of Jamaica.
From the above we can agree that the two were age mates. Marley having started his musical career in the early 60’s while Hill in the early 70’s. Almost an eight to ten year period separates the two.
Both Marley and Hill were strong proponents of Rastafarai taking their music out of the socially deprived areas of Jamaica and onto the International scene.
One fact that needs to be made clear is that Bob Marley was the third world’s first pop superstar. He remains the man who introduced the world to the mystic power of reggae.
Just like Marley, Hill was a devoted worshiper of His Imperial Majesty Haille Selassie I and a member of the Rastafai movement. Indeed Hill’s nickname,   ‘’keeper of Zion gate’’ reflects his vaunted position as one of reggae’s and Rastafari’s greatest voices.
Hill had received a number of honours including an induction into the Jamaican Reggae Walk of Fame and a 2005 Independence Award.
In 2006 the group (Culture) continued to draw good reviews, especially for their performance at 'Bob Marley 61st Birthday Celebration' in Ghana.
Joseph Hill and Culture developed a reputation as a performing group after a performance at the 'One Love Peace Concert' in 1978, and was soon regularly touring around the world. In recent years the group continued to perform at least one hundred concerts each year. Hill was a presence on stage - part deejay as he directed his band to reconfigure songs on stage and part teacher as he commented on Jamaican history and current political issues.
What made Culture unique was that Hill always tempered his messages by having a smile on his lips and a dance in his feet. He was never without a good joke at hand.
 Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller called him a "towering representative of our homegrown idiom, reggae', and lauded his "gritty melodious voice, keen ear for harmony, earthy humour, stylish dress and electrifying performances".

"Joseph Hill, your train is bound for glory, rest well, my inspiration," Prime Minister Miller intoned passionately.

Significantly, Hill was not content to let Culture be a mere oldies act. In his last years he had recorded duets with Buju Banton and Anthony B, and demonstrated a wish to be faithful to his roots and a contemporary artist.
Unfortunately Marley never had the chance to showcase his stage masterly having succumbed to cancer on May 11, 1981 aged only 36.A lot of Marley songs have been re-recorded by different artists to add a modern taste and they come out ever electrifying.
In 1999 Times Magazine chose Bob Marley & the Wailers' Exodus as the greatest reggae album of the 20th century. In 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Life Time achievement award. A statue was inaugurated, next to the national stadium on Arthur Wint Drive in Kingston Jamaica to commemorate him.
In 2006, the State of New York renamed a portion of Church Avenue from Remsen Avenue to East 98th Street in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn "Bob Marley Boulevard".
Marley’s songs have remained popular many years after his death, even Joseph Hill himself has played a number of Bob Marley’s songs during his shows including in Seychelles and Shrewsbury.
In his album ‘Lion Rock’, Hill pays tribute to the fallen hero in the song ‘A tribute to the O.M’ and ‘Psalms of Bob Marley’ in the album ‘Good things’.
Bob Marley ranks among both the most popular and the most misunderstood figures in modern culture.
Hope the above explanations can to an extent, tell who was the great among the two.”

Dear Richard,
Thank you so much for this enlightening write up. I enjoyed the comparison and I hope it helps our colleagues who were arguing who is the best between the two.
Please do not hesitate to come to our aid again.
Best Regards
Prof. Zungwala

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