Veteran reggae artist Anthony B honors Bob Marley’s birthday

Christina Eisert | Boulder Weekly

Anthony B is a reggae artist loved for his righteous lyrics and positive attitude. A defender of the poor and a believer in the strength and beauty of Jamaican culture, his dancehall style is rich, powerful and uplifting. While other artists bow to peer pressure and trash-talk women while promoting violence, Anthony B held steady and kept his faith, allowing his lyrics to remain pure, Jah-focused and blazing hot, all at the same time.

The formula is enticing. His music praises love and spirituality, peace and unity. But he is no pushover; a fearless lyricist, he warns in the song “Bad From Long Time” off the album Life Over Death, “if you diss me you’ll step on a landmine.”

Always complex, Anthony B’s music challenges the listener to become a better person by way of the sometimes-dueling disciplines of compassion and self-expression. He challenges the thug to grow into a man, “from a dog to lion.” In the same vein, his songs about women are full of passion, desire and respect.

But the art always gives away the heart of the artist, and it is clear that Anthony B’s dearest love is for Africa. In his song dedicated to the continent, “Hello Mama Africa,” he croons, “The sweetest things are there to be found The golden sunshine The wind blows around The fresh vegetation, which comes from the earth Oh Mama Africa you make me know what life is worth.”

Africa also called strongly to Bob Marley, who would have been 65 years old Feb. 6. Marley was a fiery defender of African independence and traveled to the continent twice in his short lifetime.

He stayed for a time in the Ethiopian community of Shashamane, which was donated in 1948 by the Emperor Haile Selassie I as a place for Rastafarians to settle and repatriate to their ancestral homeland in Africa. Marley’s music is chock full of anthems and ballads dedicated to African praise and liberation, including the reggae classics “Africa Unite” and “Zimbabwe.”

Anthony B has this love for Africa, and much else, in common with Bob Marley. Both artists were born in rural Jamaica and both forged their musical talent in their community church choir. Both looked to music as their escape route out of poverty. And both entered the Mansions of the Rastafarian religion as a source of spiritual redemption and black pride.

While Bob Marley associated with the Twelve Tribes of Israel, Anthony B is of the Bobo Shanti house, an order known for its long flowing robes and tightly wrapped turbans, African nationalism and spiritual separation from everyday society.

But that doesn’t stop Anthony B from traveling the globe spreading songs of peace and promoting Rastafarian beliefs and culture. Dubbed “The Trendsetter,” his fierce, relentless style is powerful enough to knock your socks off. A dancehall king, he spits fire, simultaneously mixing the simmeringly sensual with the mystic and the sacred.

A prolific composer, Anthony B has released more than two dozen albums and more than 1,000 singles in the course of his career. His music reflects the Bobo Dread’s strong veneration of African and Rasta culture. Yet his music continues to remain current, relevant and full of fire.

His 2004 album Untouchables featured collaborations with Wyclef Jean and Snoop Dogg. He also paired up with many of reggae’s hottest acts, including Capleton, Sizzla and Luciano.

The reggae/hip hop-infused Mystic Roots — out of California — and Boulder’s own DJ Iya Blaze open the show this weekend. The party is hosted by Boulder’s Zionway Recordings, known throughout Colorado for purveying the hottest underground and aboveground sounds and for showcasing some of the best reggae talent from around the world.

In celebration of the life and legend of Bob Marley, Anthony B promises to light up the Fox Theatre on Feb. 6. With him will come the latest sounds and scorching trends from the international reggae scene, all saturated in his unique, ethereal dancehall. His performances are high-energy. This will be one you’ll want to wear your track shoes to — expect to dance hard all night long.

On the Bill: Anthony B plays The Fox Theatre on Feb. 6. Door open at 8:30 p.m. All ages. Mystic Roots and DJ Iya Blaze open. Tickets are $15- $22. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.