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Thursday, July 11, 2024

YG Marley and the trailblazing Black artists that came before him

The son of singer Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley recently put out his first single, containing themes of activism from the artists that brought him to where he is today


By HANNAH SCHRADER arts@theaggie.org


Joshua Omaru Marley, known professionally as YG Marley, is the son of singer Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley. The singer and songwriter released his first single, “Praise Jah in The Moonlight,” in Dec. 2023 — a reggae song exploring themes of gratitude and spiritual growth that he co-wrote with his mother, Lauryn Hill.

Hill is a profoundly influential rapper, songwriter and singer; she was the first woman to win the Grammy for Best Rap Album and is the most Grammy-awarded female rapper. 

Marley is the grandson of the late world-renowned reggae singer Bob Marley. Bob Marley was known for his social activism and fervent dedication to cultural unity. Bob Marley was also a believer in Rastafarianism, a monotheistic religion developed in Jamaica in which god is referred to as “Jah.”

February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. In light of the recent release of “Praise Jah in The Moonlight,” the month brings a perfect opportunity to discuss the cultural impact of the trailblazing Black artists that are shaping the career of YG Marley.

They say the sun ana shine for all, but in some people world it never shines at all,” Bob Marley sang as the song began.

Bob Marley frequently used his music as an avenue to bring attention to the importance of opposing systems of oppression. YG Marley’s use of this clip of his late grandfather at the start of his first song is a testament to his commitment to upholding and spreading the ideals that his grandfather once did. 

The rest of the song echoes a similar theme, often urging others to choose the path of freedom. 

“Tell them not to sell it; it’s worth more than gold, and guiltiness will catch up to them in the end,” YG Marley sang, referencing freedom, in the song. 

Later in the song, YG Marley alluded to the financial component of oppression and how harmful it can be, referencing the vision — meaning money has the power to skew morality. 

“They’ll try to manipulate you through your pockets,” YG Marley sang. “Now you’re caught up in a funk with the optic, with the vision.” 

Lauryn Hill is dedicated to helping underprivileged kids in urban areas and started the “Refugee Project” in 1996 as a non-profit to help uplift at-risk urban youth. The term “Refugee” was used as a derogatory term for Haitian Americans. Hill held a lot of people close to her who experienced discrimination based on their race and ethnicity, which undoubtedly had an impact on her founding of the “Refugee Project.”

While “Praise Jah in The Moonlight” was only the first song YG Marley produced, the singer has evidently taken inspiration from his family members based on the clear undertones of social activism. The future of YG Marley’s career has the potential to be very successful if he continues to spread messages of love and understanding — just like others before him. 

Written by: Hannah Schrader  city@theaggie.org


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