Friday, March 8th, 2024

YG Marley – Praise Jah in the Moonlight

The closest to covering Bob Marley we’ll probably get…

YG Marley - Praise Jah in the Moonlight

Andrew Karpan: A remarkably inoffensive excavation of nostalgia processed through smoov, professionally-made R&B, the debut hit from Bob Marley’s literal grandson made me think of that time Doja Cat flipped a Big Mama Thornton record to express some ambivalence regarding a larger conceptual project designed around improving the fortunes of the Elvis brand. The Marley version of this story is less convoluted and gifts us the historically notable presence of Lauryn Hill’s voice on the charts. Surely that’s more than, say, Pablo Dylan has ever done for us. 

Jackie Powell: At first I was shocked to see that “Praise Jah in the Moonlight” had no direct association with the film Bob Marley: One Love besides the obvious fact that YG Marley is Bob’s grandson, but maybe that’s intentional. While “Praise Jah In the Moonlight” samples from Bob Marley’s “Crisis,” it lacks direction and energy. What makes Bob Marley great is his pacing, simple but poignant songwriting, and singular voice. His grandson YG has close to none of that, and he uses a heavy layer of autotune to “enhance” his vocals. He copies and pastes two lines from his grandfather at the beginning that comment on happiness being a choice, but what follows is something completely irrelevant to that. Is this a love song? Is this about loneliness? The only redeeming part is when YG’s mother Ms. Lauryn Hill joins her son on the bridge and then takes the song out by herself in the outro with a vocal performance that’s much more melodic and catchy than the rest of the track.

TA Inskeep: A mid trad reggae record is still a mid trad reggae record, no matter a) the artist’s lineage and b) whether it blows up on social media. 

Joshua Lu: It’s nice to see a reggae song gain so much steam on the charts, even if it’s nepo baby reggae. “Praise Jah in the Moonlight” is notable for its singer’s lineage (and its sample of said singer’s lineage), but its easygoing vibe and inoffensive nature are likely the main reasons behind its global success.

Ian Mathers: This seems to be at least evoking a genre where the simplicity and repetitiveness of the production isn’t a demerit… but that’s usually partly because the vocals are compelling. Here, they aren’t, and they sound oddly washed-out and blurry too — which sounds like something I’d enjoy, but here just comes across as aggressively meh.

Leah Isobel: “Praise Jah in the Moonlight” has a slippery quality. Its production blends signifiers from reggae, neo-soul, and hip-hop, while its structure is relatively aimless. YG’s voice is processed in such a way that it slides off basically every line and pitch, so the lyrics’ nods at social criticism don’t quite cohere, either. The only line that punches through is more quotidian: “I’m just hoping that you’ll sing my songs.” There’s something so vulnerable and earnest about that, and something heartbreaking about the way that it’s nearly buried underneath Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill’s combined presence. It’s as if the weight of past generations presses out nearly all attempts to create something original or push culture forward, so all that’s left is plainspoken, inadequate confession. Get PinkPantheress on a remix, stat.

Katherine St. Asaph: Suffused with the subtext of everything it’s an inferior version of.

Scott Mildenhall: He’ll try and light a fire, this scion, but that joke is out of gas. Still, amazing to listen and picture the future of iterative I and I.

Nortey Dowuona: Unremarkable pablum. But the drums do knock.

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