Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Album Review: Burning Spear-Jah is Real

I don't know what I'll be doing when I'm 63, but it probably won't be releasing a full-length album on my own record label and traveling to Africa as a cultural ambassador for peace. For Burning Spear, whose new album Jah is Real came out August 17th on Burning Spear Records, that's icing on the cake of a legendary career in which he's released fifty-one records, been nominated for eleven grammies, starred in a feature film, and toured the world several times over.

Jah is Real is proof Burning Spear is as dedicated to Marcus Garvey's message as he was the day he first walked into Studio One. Tracks like One Africa, Grandfather, and Stick to the Plan all emphasize Marucs Garvey's Pan-African message. Run for Your Life advocates self-reliance, recounting the story of the founding of Burning Spear records. Bootsy Collins plays bass on a few tracks, injecting some extra funk into the proceedings, and Brian Hardgroove of Public Enemy laid down a funky drum and bass remix of Step It to close out the album.

Spear doesn't just advocate African Unity in his music, he backs up his words with his actions. At the request of the United Nations, he traveled to Kenya, the African nation from which he took his name, after a rigged election caused widespread violence earlier this year. He came as an ambassador of peace and was welcomed as a long-lost king as he performed for 65,000 people in Nairobi and brought them together peacefully as Africans, something Kenya badly needed in the post-election violent times.

The Spear kicks off a tour of the United States and Canada at the Irving Plaza on August 31st . He'll be playing eleven shows in ten cities throughout the month of September. If you love reggae, buy a copy of Jah is Real or catch one of his live shows. Burning Spear is as authentic a reggae legend as there is living today, and he isn't showing any signs of slowing up.


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