Rise Up is a powerful album moniker to live up to, reggae or otherwise. Bob Marley could pull it off on reputation alone. Jamaican sensation Anthony B pulls it off on basis of sheer passion.
Some may argue Rise Up’s theme has lost muscle since its intended October release date. The interim saw a black man and a White House turn endemic racism on its head. But B preaches a 14-track sermon on more than just the international struggle for black rights. Every cause in the roots realm is present, from environmental degradation to the ever-popular legalization of marijuana.
B’s clout lies not in cheap fan-winning antics or catchy tunes. Through Hammond organ solos, he mounts a verbal pedestal of near martyrdom: “Tear my limbs and fan the bloody city.” When B does tackle black rights, he paints a picture of rent money worries trumped by malnutrition. “Can’t keep quiet/Got to speak/Don’t want violence/But man too hungry.”
It would be unfair to throw B into the ring with classics like Marley. He delivers a performance sometimes lacking but certainly no more understated. He might not make the fabric of Hot Topic T-shirts, but few contemporary reggae artists show as much fired up talent. (Alex Sakariassen)
Anthony B plays the Elks Lodge Thursday, March 5, at 10 PM. $15.