Few people were surprised when Stephen Marley’s long awaited debut solo album “Mind Control” (Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths/Universal Republic) premiered at No. 1 on the Billboard Reggae Album chart in March 2007; after all, the singing, songwriting and production excellence Stephen had brought to additional Marley family projects over the years, including younger brother Damian’s two Grammy Award winning albums, practically guaranteed “Mind Control” would be a remarkable effort. And indeed it is: “Mind Control” is that rare self-produced set featuring a cohesive range of diversified styles, each delivered with equal proficiency. Whether Stephen is the revolutionary roots rocker decrying mental slavery on the album’s title cut, an outraged prisoner protesting his gaol term for marijuana possession on the bluesy “Iron Bars”, a forlorn romantic mourning a break-up on “You’re Gonna Leave” or an irresistible retro-dancehall toaster flaunting his mic skills on “The Traffic Jam”, each track on “Mind Control” reconfirms Stephen’s expansive capabilities as an affecting vocalist, a versatile lyricist and an accomplished instrumentalist while furthering his renown as an ingenious producer. Also unsurprising was the widespread critical acclaim that accompanied “Mind Control’s” release: Interview Magazine called it “a quiet masterpiece, easily the best effort from a Marley progeny” while Entertainment Weekly hailed it as “the best Marley album in a generation.” “Mind Control” was bestowed with the Best Reggae Album Grammy in 2008 while its unplugged version “Mind Control-Acoustic” was similarly honoured in 2010, increasing Stephen’s Grammy Award total, earned from his various roles on assorted Marley family projects, to seven, a record-setting number for a Jamaican artist. [+]
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