The ink is barely dry on the deal Bob Marley’s heirs have signed with a private equity firm to license clothes, food, and other merch with their patriarch’s likeness — and already some quarters are predictably crying “hypocrisy!” “Bob Marley Now Owned By Wall Street,” the folks at Gawker righteously intoned. (Gawker Media, of course, is a radical artists’ collective which eschews all contact with unclean capitalist commerce. Nice T-Mobile ad above your post there, guys!) Look, yes, it’s unfortunate that our culture expresses its love for creative geniuses by slapping their images on things to be sold. I don’t love that aspect of modern life either. But it’s not like cheap, mass-produced Marley gear doesn’t exist already. Millions of people want to buy this stuff, mostly because they like Bob Marley’s music. Am I really supposed to be mad at the Marley family for wanting to get a piece of that action? And spare me the concern for the poor counterfeiters whose business model is going to get destroyed by this deal. Something tells me Hilco Consumer Capital isn’t going to be able to quash every under-the-table manufacturer of Natty Dread-logo rolling papers — the whole point of a black market is that it’s difficult to track and regulate.
Anyway, this licensing kerfuffle isn’t even the most noteworthy piece of Marley-related news I’ve come across this week. Much more exciting: Nas is supposedly recording a full album with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Bob’s youngest son and a fantastic musician in his own right. Who knows if this project will really come to fruition by spring, as promised. If Nas and Jr. Gong’s 2005 single “Road to Zion” (below) is any indication, though, this is something to start getting psyched for. Don’t you think?
More on Bob Marley:
Legend is one of EW’s New Music Classics
Margeaux Watson took an in-depth look at how Bob’s children are keeping his legacy alive
Happy Birthday, Bob Marley!
Who should play Bob Marley in an upcoming biopic?