Album Review- Julian Marley- ‘As I Am’

Today marks the release of Julian Marley fourth studio album ‘As I Am’ which comes over 10 years since the release of his previous album ‘Awake’ which went on to be nominated for the ‘Best Reggae Album’ Grammy and won ‘Best Album of The Year’ in the International Reggae and World Music Awards. So continuing into this album, it’s fair to say that there were high expectations for Julian.

As soon as the first single arrived for the ‘As I Am’ album we knew that we should be expecting something different from Julian. ‘Are You The One’ really cemented that this album was going to be a lot different to the music we are used to hearing from the current Reggae scene, with Julian delivering an ode to the music he loves, Reggae.

This dedication and love for the traditional aspects of Reggae can be heard throughout the album, with ‘Papa’, ‘Family and Friends’ and ‘Straighter Roads’ sticking to the more traditional aspects of the genre, as Julian delivers not only musically through these tracks but also lyrically, as these tracks in a very traditional way are built around powerful messages .

Some of the real standout points of the album come from the fusion elements present on the album, whether that be a track like ‘I Am The Sound’ which sees Julian end the album with dub, ‘Chalice Load’ which sees Julian unleash a smokers anthem in funk-reggae fusion track that really livens up the start of the album or ‘Baby Lotion’ which sees Julian deliver a fast paced romantic dedication to his lover.

All these styles might seem like they’d make an in-cohesive album, but Julian has masterfully interwoven these styles on this album, with the underlying Reggae influence helping to glue the album together.

This cohesion is helped massively by the masterful segmentation of the album with ‘Baby Lotion’ being quickly followed by another uptempo romantic track with ‘Too Hot To Dance’ featuring Shaggy that continues this uptempo vibe from ‘Baby Lotion’, before Julian lowers the pace and releases a romantic ballad with ‘Magic of Love’.

In a similar way ‘Chalice Load’ is followed by another funky uptempo track with ‘Cooling In Jamaica’, which although not having the obvious funk influences of ‘Chalice Load’ still has a unique funky edge to it.

Another talking point of the album are the features, with Julian bringing in Shaggy, Beenie Man and Spragga Benz to feature on the album, with Shaggy featuring on the uptempo ‘Too Hot To Dance’, Beenie Man bringing his usual dancehall prowess to Julian Marley’s refix of ‘What’s New Pussycat’ (which is a refix of his father’s cover of the Tom Jones Oscar Nominated Classic) and Spragga Benz adding his dancehall flare to ‘Panic Mind State’, which tells the story of a broken relationship, with Spragga Benz upping the tempo at the end of track to reflect on the errors he made in the relationship.

Julian also delivers on tracks like ‘Hey Jack’ which tells the story of a friend that Julian hopes he can rely on if he falls, with Julian wondering whether if he has found the right friend in Jack, ‘Broken Sail’ that continues on from ‘Hey Jack’ as Julian feels isolated somewhat with his ‘Broken Sail’ “many miles away from shore” with Julian going in and out of feeling isolated on the track and reflecting on what is making him feel that way.

The traditional militancy of the early roots period is also seen on ‘As I Am’ with Julian, combating the issues in the world on ‘War Zone’ and calling for drastic changes in society of ‘Can’t Cool The Fire’ as he looks to “crush Babylon”.

‘As I Am’ definitely delivers on all expectations with Julian Marley showing not only his very apparent skill as an artist that has been present on his last three releases, but also showing his ability to interweave various genres into his music to develop his own unique sound, with Reggae serving as the backbone to each of these unique styles.

Lyricism is at the heart of Julian’s music as each track delivers an important message to the listener, whether that be focusing on the almighty on ‘Papa’ overcoming obstacles on ‘Straighter Roads’ or just enjoying life on ‘Cooling in Jamaica’. Julian knows how to deliver a message to his listeners and does this job brilliantly on ‘As I Am’.

We could not recommend ‘As I Am’ enough as Julian Marley releases his own unique sound in yet another classic album. Every track delivers a unique vibe and every track had it’s own message. This is not only a unique album within reggae but a unique album within music.

Check Out Julian Marley’s ‘As I Am’ Below

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