Kanye West
Rich Fury

‘Jesus Is King’ Is Kanye West’s Attempt To Get Right With God

Less than two hours have passed since I received confirmation that I somehow scored tickets to Kanye West’s Jesus Is King NYC listening session. You know, the album that was supposed to drop last Friday? It’s now Sunday, and this session seems to be the only guaranteed way to hear the album.

I scroll through Twitter to see if copping the free tickets was just that easy. I’m especially curious, given the vocal pushback against Kanye over the past year and a half, by a slew of his now-former fans who took issue with his seemingly newfound, conservative opinions.

But I see a frenzy on my timeline, courtesy of the unofficial Ye documentarians behind @KanyePodcast, of other people still clamoring to get tickets. Many of the passes were snapped up by scalpers, who were selling them for as much as $150 each, if not more.

It’s a shame, but it’s the name of the game. Especially for any event involving Kanye West.

After throwing on the nearest clean outfit, I hop on the train to head to the venue, United Palace, in Washington Heights; it doesn’t take long to find other people who are, too. They’re wearing Yeezys. And they can’t stop chattering.

As the stops come, one after another, more Yeezys board the subway car. Most of them are pristine, but some—the cream white and butter 350s, in particular—are just impossible to keep clean. In a lot of ways, they reflect their creator: they’re ostentatious, but in the simplest way. And, try as you might, you can’t get them back to the way they used to be once the façade has been stained. You just have to accept their current state, and press on.

An hour-plus journey later, I get off the train and follow the sea of Yeezys for the three-minute walk to the venue. Once inside the theater—30 minutes after doors open, and an hour and a half after standing in line—my phone is placed inside a locked bag and given back to me. Thankfully, I have two McDonald’s napkins and a pen in my purse to take notes.

I rush through the ornate and stately United Palace, which doubles as a non-profit cultural/performing arts center and church, and pass by merch stands. I only have time to briefly examine the set-up, but my eyes bug out of my head when I get a glimpse of what Ye is selling: Jesus Is King hoodies for $140. You read that right. One hundred and forty buckaroos.

Several failed attempts to grab a seat later, I finally find one near the back of the space, on the lower floor. No more than a minute later, the crowd collectively jumps to its feet and begins chanting “Yeezy! Yeezy!”

“All rise,” I think to myself, “for the Honorable Kanye West.”

I take a look around to get a better idea about who still counts themselves among Kanye’s diehard fans. Social media would indicate that his recent events cater mostly to white audiences. “Kanye gentrified his own fan base,” Bronx comedian Desus Nice tweeted Saturday. But here, it’s a completely mixed experience. To my immediate left is an Asian couple; to my right, two white men (who don’t clap for anything, all night). Behind me is a Hispanic couple, and in front of me are two young black women, wearing matching black-on-black Jesus Is King sweatshirts.

The event begins with a brief hello from the 42-year-old Chicago rapper, but I can’t see him because so many people are standing on their seats, trying to get a better look at the man who provided them with a soundtrack to their lives. It’s equally treacly and touching.

After greeting us, Kanye introduces two films: the first is about five minutes long, about the making of Jesus Is King. When the clip rolls, tiny silhouettes grace the wings of the dark stage. Even from the back of the venue, I can make out Saint and North West, dancing and clapping along with their father’s take on worship music. As the night progresses, North edges closer and closer to center stage, wanting to be applauded and seen just as much as Ye.

In both the short film and in an approximately 15-minute preview of the Jesus Is King IMAX documentary, Kanye places an immense focus on his choir. In a stirring moment, the singers flip his moody 808s & Heartbreak cut, “Say You Will,” into one of their signature Christ-focused covers: “Savor His Grace; it’s in His will.”

There are powerful moments aplenty, including close-ups on beautiful black women shedding tears while praising God; women who remind me of my own sister, who sings in a choir back home in Texas. But the energy in this room is conflicting. People who likely have never set foot in a black church are leaping up and “testifying” in a way that looks hauntingly familiar, but contrived. Studied. It looks like a lot of pretending.

Thankfully, I don’t have to wallow for long in my shadiness. Kanye takes his position in front of the stage, MPC at the ready, and begins the show we’ve all been waiting for.

The first track he plays, “Up From the Ashes,” bounces like a track Chance would have put on Coloring Book. “I come to You empty, free of my pride,” Ye vocalizes over gentle, minimal production. Everyone stays tame and in their seats, enjoying the moment but waiting for the next song.

The second Kanye presses play on the next track, “Follow God,” a few stans pop out of their seats, almost like synchronized jack-in-the-boxes. At this moment, Kanye tells us he needs us all to stand up. Of course, most of the audience thought that meant to storm the aisles, climb over seats, and hop onstage with Ye. I can honestly 1000% understand why this was the song that moved him to move us: driven by a soul sample, which I can’t yet put my finger on, it brings to mind Kanye’s 2011 collaboration with Jay-Z, “Otis.”

Three tracks into the album (“On God”), two things become abundantly clear: 1) Kanye did not have permission to tell his fans to break venue protocol and rush to the stage; and 2) Jesus Is King has a peculiar pattern—there’s no distinct sound that travels from one song to the next.

After security does its best to restabilize United Palace, Kanye continues to play “On God.” A vast change from the tracks before it, “On God” veers more toward electronic than gospel or hip-hop.

“Sunday,” on the other hand, is guitar-driven and brooding. On top of that, it has a witty hook: “Closed on Sunday, you like Chick-fil-A… Follow Jesus, listen now—obey.” Ye is feeling this one so he runs it back again, so his fans can get the “Chick-fil-A” line down. And they do.

A more experimental track follows “Sunday”: “Water.” It immediately reminds me of both Frank Ocean and Imogen Heap; it’s evocative, warbling, and tender, and there are countless moving parts. All I can think is: I would much rather hear this, than hear Ye rap about bleached assholes.

You might recall this tainted subject from Ye’s opening bars on “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” off of 2016’s The Life of Pablo. It was particularly jarring to hear after “Ultralight Beam” at the start of the project, which Kanye explained would be “a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it.”

It’s almost like Kanye is now bending over backwards to make up for his TLOP gospel album pump fake. On “Selah,” track six, the song is overpowered by organs and what sounds like irreverent yelling, but is likely just Ye’s way of worshipping. He doubles down IRL at the end, with what can only be described as a series of Howard Dean screams.

“New Body,” the only song that’s been heard by the public (via leaks), sounds downright terrible in this venue. The speakers at the front of the space and the soundstage in back, near me, just aren’t aligning. (The drums, my God, the drums.) I wait patiently for the next song, which I think Ye calls “Ugliest Nightmare”; that title is not on the latest version of the tracklist posted by Kim Kardashian West, but it seems to match up with “LA Monster”: “Everyone is saying they woke, but they sleep,” Ye raps. “Walking dead, eyes closed.”

Kanye plays one of the most moving tracks on Jesus Is King penultimately: “Hands On,” featuring revered gospel musician Fred Hammond. “Tell the devil that I’m going on strike,” Ye announces. “I been working for him my whole life.” He gets even more honest later in the song: “‘What are you hearing from the Christians?’ They’ll be the first ones to judge me. Make me feel like nobody love me.” This made it very clear, to me, that Kanye is aware of the conversations happening around him, whether he chooses to engage or not.

The final track of the night is “Use This Gospel,” featuring No Malice, Pusha-T, and Kenny G. Before Ye can play the track in full, the NYPD enters and shines its light of authority down the aisles, announcing the concert is over. We’re effectively being shut down, but Kanye pushes through and has the crowd sing and hum with him until the end. “Use this gospel for protection,” Ye advises in song. “It’s a hard road to heaven.”

To be frank, Jesus Is King doesn’t compare to hardly any of Kanye’s previous works. The one thing it does have in common, with The Life of Pablo and ye, is that Kanye is reportedly still making adjustments to the project, beyond the final countdown. The production itself could hypothetically be tinkered with endlessly, and a reported Nicki Minaj verse could pop up. But Ye’s bars feel locked into place: simple, unpretentious worship. It sounds like he’s learning how to rap all over again, complete with figurative training wheels. You know how on Showtime at the Apollo, if a kid sings “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” badly, the audience still can’t boo them because it’s a song about God? Same thing.

But, Kanye has retained a lot of the elements that we know and love/d him for: the explorative production, the augmented, autotuned vocals, and perhaps most of all, his enthusiasm. A lot of the things that we love about Kanye are still there. It just so happens that this time, he’s backed by a choir, singing straight to Jesus.

Kanye is trying to do something revolutionary—he’s pivoting in real time from a flippant, sex-obsessed rapper, to a focused man of God, both in purpose and on wax. This has happened before: the late Bushwick Bill, DMX, and the aforementioned No Malice are just a few MCs who turned their lives over to Christ and dedicated their careers to praising Him. But none of them have the platform, or staying power, that Kanye holds.

On the ride home after the listening session, the subway cars fill with Yeezys, yet again. About halfway to Brooklyn, a young white man startlingly yells out, “Hey! Somebody AirDrop that Kanye!” A few folks laugh, but the force field of Ye’s energy has waned by this point. The event lasted an exact hour, leading me to speculate that people were left wanting more; especially fans who are used to his bombastic, elaborate performances.

Still, Kanye’s fans on the subway genuinely describe the event as “fire” and “crazy.” At this level of fandom, they probably don’t care what the album is even about: they’re just buying into the brand of Kanye West. His stans are always going to show up. They will always buy his merch, by the bag—even if it’s connected to a religion they don’t believe in, yet.

In all fairness, Kanye is a legend. Despite his polarizing comments over the past year and a half, he has accomplished things in his roughly two-decade-long career that many would take several lifetimes to complete. He will likely never be “canceled.” His works are woven too tightly into the stitching of our musical tastes and more importantly, our memories.

I get off at my stop, happy to finally be free to think to myself about what exactly just happened, and what this might mean for Ye’s future success. As I walk out of the subway station, a lasting moment is imprinted in my brain: before sharing the album, Kanye asked the audience to praise Jesus with him. His request was met with a smattering of half-hearted applause.

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Then & Now: Common Details How He And J Dilla Collaborated On The "Thelonious" Track With Slum Village

J Dilla and Common had a really tight creative bond and, at one point, lived together in L.A. So you know that Common got dibs on all of his hot beats first. They were hip-hop brethren just trying to work together and of all of their collaborations, living and posthumous, the track “Thelonius,” is the sharpest intersection of the two legendary artists' careers.

A singular song fit for two albums, the cut was placed on Common’s fourth studio album Like Water for Chocolate and Fantastic Vol. II, Slum Village's classic sophomore album. “Thelonius” as we know it was in a way an accident...a soulful snafu that we get to enjoy forever. In this excerpt of VIBE's Then & Now video franchise, Common shares how the song manifested unplanned, willed into existence by Dilla’s uncompromising creative compass.

The story is brought to life with artwork by visual artist supreme, Dan Lish (@DanLish1), the man behind Raekwon’s The Wild album artwork. The illustrations you see in this video are a small fraction of what you can find in his upcoming book: Egostrip Vol 1 – The Essential Hip Hop Art Book, a psychedelic visual history of hip-hop to be enjoyed by the genre’s oldest and youngest fans alike. 

Today is the last day to support Lish's Kickstarter for the incredible project. Click the following link for a copy of your own: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dan-lish/egostrip-book-1 

“I picked up on what inspired me about the artists, whether it be a certain lyric from a classic song or my perception of what may be going through their mind at the moment of creation,” says Lish.

There is much more to be said about all of these artists. For more stories on Common’s catalog, including several more Dilla cuts, stay tuned for the upcoming episode of Then & Now, where we dig deeper into notable tracks in the career of one Lonnie Rashid "Common" Lynn, Jr.

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Courtesy of Biz 3 / FCF

Quavo Is Introducing 'Fan Controlled Football' To The Culture

From their penchant for popping tags and name-dropping designer brands in their rhymes to the obsession with diamond-encrusted neckwear, the Migos are the modern-day poster-children for decadence and opulence. But when it comes to balling, group member Quavo is a seasoned veteran, literally and figuratively. Notorious for his appearances in NBA all-star celebrity games, where he routinely dominates the competition, Huncho has built a rep as one of the athletically gifted hit-makers in music today.

Although he's known for his skills on the hardwood, football is definitely among his passions. His newest endeavor, an ownership stake in Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the first professional sports league to put the viewer in the coach's seat and the general manager's office, in live time, finds him putting his focus back on the gridiron. Having inked an exclusive, multi-year streaming broadcast partnership with Twitch, the FCF will be the first professional sports league to be fully integrated with the streaming platform with the potential to explode in the digital age, where user interest and participation is the main recipe for success.

Having tossed the pigskin around as a Georgia high school football star, to Quavo, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the innovative league on the ground level. “We are building a brand and something different in our league – with the fans. They are in control and get to pick the team names, colors, logos, and more,” said Quavo said in a press release. “I’m really excited because FCF is fast-paced, high-scoring 7v7 football and you are in control. You go from sitting on the couch watching TV and pressing buttons on the remote to actually pressing the buttons on the plays.”

Played on "a 35-yard x 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones,” the Fan Controlled Football league will kick off in February 2021, with a four-week regular season, one week of playoffs, and a Championship week. The league will consist of former elite D-1 athletes, the CFL, XFL, and the Indoor Football League. Broadcasted live from the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta, each game will be 60 minutes in length and will allow the viewers to play a hand in the final outcome on Twitch.

Aside from sports, Quavo has been relatively lowkey on the musical tip as of late, with two years having passed since a solo release or a Migos album. However, according to him, this delay can be considered the calm before the storm, as he assures him and his brethren are primed for one of their biggest years yet. VIBE hopped on the line with Quavo to talk Fan Controlled Football, what he's got cooking in the studio, and his foray into TV and film.

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You're the newest team owner at Fan Controlled Football (FCF). What about the league piqued your interest and made you wanna get involved?

It's just showing my interest in the game of football and just trying to put a twist to where it's fan-controlled, fan-involved. A lot of times we watch the game, you watch the game, you just have some concerns. Sometimes you feel you can make the plays or call the play, [with FCF], you can sit on the couch and make the play. I just think we came together to make something crazy like that. I feel like it's something hard, it's something new, it's something fresh. It's a new beginning to something, like giving ni**as a chance. Giving D-1 players who couldn't make it to the league a chance, giving ex-NFL ni**as a chance if they still got it, [and] to go with the fans. When we saw the Falcons lose the Superbowl LI, we [fans] just knew what plays to call, we knew to run the ball. We were up 28-3. All we had to do was hold the ball, but we wanted to air it out and we made a mistake and lost to Tom Brady. Just like when Marshawn could've won a Superbowl. If they'd have given him the ball on the two-yard line. We knew that Marshawn Lynch was supposed to get the ball, [but] they wanted Russell Wilson to win it and the New England Patriots caught an interception. So that's how we're trying to shape it, we're trying to make something new.

The FCF will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitch, which has become one of the leading platforms for eSports live-streaming and will kick off in February 2021. Do you feel the FCF has the opportunity to fill that NFL void during the spring, particularly given the fan engagement that FCF enables?

Most definitely, cause after the Super Bowl, it just feels like you just want another game. You feel like you want one more game. and coming from something [where it's] eleven on eleven players to seven on seven, I feel [there’s] still a difference. After coming from watching the game and the regular politics, the regular structure of the game, now you're getting to be involved in a game that you can control. You can pick the jersey, you can pick the helmets, you can pick the jerseys, you can pick the coaches, you can pick the plays. I just feel there are two different dynamics [between the NFL and FCF). You come from sitting on the couch and pressing the remote to actually pressing the button on the plays."

Speaking of fan engagement, the FCF is the only professional sports league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time and puts the viewer in control of a game’s outcome like never before. Have you ever had that experience, as far as fantasy football?

Nah, but I'm into Madden. You can sit at home and pick your plays [with FCF], it's just like the lifestyle of Madden. It's like a reality of Madden. You're playing with people at home, with these unique athletes, and it's seven-on-seven.

As an Atlanta native, how significant was the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility being in your hometown in your decision to come on board as an owner?

It's very important. We got top-tier talent here, so it's opening up opportunities for a lot of guys. We're just glad it's in the south, it's like a hub. Everybody loves Atlanta and everybody wanna be here. Everybody wanna play and the weather is good.

NFL Super Bowl Champions Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, boxing legend Mike Tyson, and YouTuber and podcaster empire Greg Miller are among the FCF's team owners. How does it feel to be competing against some of the most accomplished athletes and entertainers in the world? Have you had the opportunity to meet with any of them?

Most definitely. I have a good relationship with Mike Tyson. I've met Marshawn Lynch, it's a blessing. I feel like we're not competing right now, I feel like we're building a brand. I feel like we're building a league. I feel like we're trying to make the world understand what we're bringing to the table and what type of game we bring to the table, you feel me? I feel we're trying to create something different. Once we get the ball rolling, it's all together and moving into a real FCF league, then we'll get to compete. Of course, we all wanna win, but right now, we're just trying to get the foundation and the basics going and letting the strength of the owners and the relationships show on the field.

Being that you'll all be working with your respective fan bases in shaping your team’s personality and identity, any thoughts about what the team’s name will be? 

Man, I wish I did, but it's so straight strictly fans that you never know. Just like with music, can have an idea that is a smash, and then the fans don't think it is. You gotta strictly listen to the fans on this one. You gotta listen strictly to how they want it because it's the point of the game, that's the point of the league. We gotta let them control this game and then we the players and we the people that's listening to the people, the culture. FCF stands for culture, too, you feel what I'm saying? We listen to the culture, we're letting the culture run the field.

How involved will you be in the drafting and scouting process for your squad?

The fans make the draft, fans get to see everything. Open books, everything. It's an open thing, it ain't nothing to hide over here. The fans control it all.

In addition to sports, you've also been delving into acting, with cameos in shows like Atlanta, Star, Black-ish, and Ballers. Earlier this year, you appeared as yourself in Narcos: Mexico. How did that opportunity come about? 

Narcos reached out. We [Migos] had this song called “Narcos” on the [Culture II] album and we went and shot [the video] in Miami and everybody thought it was a Narcos movie scene and it ended up being Madonna's house. So we just shot that there and then they reached out to us. I think Offset had a performance somewhere and Takeoff had to do something and I just ended up being free that day and I went and shot it in New Mexico. I had fun, I loved it.

Do you have plans to pursue any supporting or leading roles in film or television?

Hell yeah, most definitely. I've been sitting down and having real great meetings with directors and people that got some movies in the works for 2021. I feel like I’ve got some good spots. I don't wanna tell it cause they’re gonna make some announcements. It's coming soon.

It's been two years since you've released a solo project or one with the Migos. Can fans expect any new music from you anytime soon and what are your next plans on that front?

Most definitely, hell yeah, we're shooting videos right now. We’re vaulting up a whole lot of videos so we can give you music and visuals at the same time. “Need It," the song came first and then the video. Right now, we wanna get a lot of videos and a lot records in the vault and smash [them] all at once 'cause it's been two years.

Pop Smoke's passing was one of the more tragic events in rap in recent memory, but his debut album, which you appeared on throughout, has been one of the most successful and acclaimed projects of 2020. How has it been seeing how the album’s been received, especially after you and him developed such a bond in a short time?

I'm happy. I'm proud of him, that was my partner. We did a lot of records, we spent a lot of time together and I feel like the album would've did even more with him being alive. A lot of people's album just go crazy when they die, I feel like his sh*t would've still went crazy. He had the momentum, he had the buzz. He was having fun. He was hot, he was fresh, he had everything ready.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Toots Hibbert performing at Hammersmith Palais, London in 1983.
Photo by David Corio/Redferns

Remembering Toots Hibbert

The best singers don’t need too many words to make their point. Otis Redding could let loose with a sad sad song like “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa” and get you all in your feelings. Bob Marley got pulses pounding with his “Whoi-yoooo” rebel yell. Gregory Isaacs melted hearts with nothing more than a gentle sigh. Toots Hibbert, who died last Friday at the age of 77, could sing just about anything and make it sound good. One of the world's greatest vocalists in any genre, Toots paired his powerful voice with the understated harmonies of Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias to form The Maytals, a vocal trinity that never followed fashion and remained relevant throughout the evolution of Jamaican music—from the ska era to rock steady straight through to reggae, a genre named after The Maytals' 1968 classic “Do The Reggay.”

Whether they were singing a sufferer’s selection (“Time Tough”), a churchical chant (“Hallelujah”), or the tender tale of a country wedding (“Sweet and Dandy”), The Maytals blew like a tropical storm raining sweat and tears. The lyrics to Six and Seven Books,” one of The Maytals' earliest hits, are pretty much just Toots listing the books of the Bible. “You have Genesis and Exodus,” he declares over a Studio One ska beat, “Leviticus and Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges and Ruth...” Having grown up singing in his parents' Seventh Day Adventist Church in the rural Jamaican town of May Pen, Toots knew the Good Book well.

The Maytals broke out worldwide in 1966 thanks to the song “Bam Bam,” which won Jamaica's first-ever Independence Festival Song Competition, held during the first week of August as the island nation celebrated both independence from Great Britain in 1862 and emancipation in 1834. They would go on to win the coveted title two more times, but “Bam Bam” was a singular song with a message every bit as powerful as Toots' voice. “I want you to know that I am the man," Toots sang. He was young and strong, ready to "fight for the right, not for the wrong." The trajectory of "Bam Bam" would not only transform Toots' life but make waves throughout popular music worldwide.

"Festival in Jamaica is very important to all Jamaicans," the veteran singer stated in a video interview this past summer while promoting his latest entry into the annual competition. "I must tell you that I won three festivals in Jamaica already, which is “Bam Bam,” “Sweet & Dandy” and “Pomp & Pride.” Toots described that first festival competition as a joyous occasion. "Everybody just want to hear a good song that their children can sing," he recalled. "Is like every artist could be a star."

In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of "Bam Bam" winning first place, Toots looked back over the legacy of the tune that made him a star. "I didn’t know what it means but it was a big deal," he told Boomshots. "You in the music business and you want to be on top and you write a good song and you go on this competition and if they like it then it becomes #1." After The Maytals won, the group was in demand not just all over the island, but all over the world. "We start fly out like a bird," he says with a laugh. "Fly over to London."

"Bam Bam" went on to inspire numerous cover versions, starting with Sister Nancy, Yellowman, and Pliers. It would also be sampled in numerous hip hop classics, and interpolated into Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones." But according to Toots, he did not benefit financially from these endless cover versions. "People keep on singing it over and over and over, and they don’t even pay me a compliment," he told Boomshots. "I haven’t been collecting no money from that song all now."

 

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“This man don’t trouble no one... but if you trouble this man it will bring a Bam Bam” Original Maytals Classic @tootsmaytalsofficial 🎶 All them a talk, them nuh bad like Niya Fiya Ball ☄️🔥💥 via @tonyspreadlove . 💥💣🔫#Boomshots

A post shared by Word Sound & Power (@boomshots) on Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19am PDT

When Toots began singing in his parents' church, music was not seen as a career prospect, and the profits were slim for Jamaican recording artists in the 1960s. "Those days we get 14 cents for the record to play on the radio," Toots said. "I get three shillings and five shillings for a number one record, which I had 31 number one record in Jamaica... It’s not about money for me. It’s about the quality that Jamaicans need to go back in the festival jamboree... You gotta talk to the children."

On the poignant “54-46 (Was My Number),” Toots recalls the dehumanization of his arrest and 18-month imprisonment at Jamaica's Richmond Farm Correctional Center for what he always insisted was a trumped-up ganja charge just as his music career was taking off. The song's crescendo comes two minutes in when Toots breaks into a scat solo that cannot be translated into any language known to man, delivered with palpable passion that made his message universal. During Toots' ecstatic stage performances he would follow this riff by commanding his band to “Give it to me... one time!” Then the 'd make 'em say Uh!  (Way before Master P!) “Give it to me... two times!” Uh! Uh! And so on and so forth until Toots worked the place into a frenzy.

The Maytals' live show was so explosive that Toots began touring all over the world, opening for rock megastars like The Rolling Stones and The Who. While Bob Marley richly deserved the title King of Reggae, his friend Toots was performing internationally before The Wailers, and remained a force to be reckoned with throughout his life, blazing a trail for generations of reggae artists to follow in his footsteps.

On his Grammy-winning 2004 album True Love, Toots recorded some of his greatest hits with a host of legendary artists, many of whom were also good friends, including Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. His 2006 cover of Radiohead's "Let Down" was a favorite of the band's, who used to play it on their tour bus. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood called Toots’ version “truly astounding,” according to Easy Star Records Michael Goldwasser.

Toots supported himself and his family by touring all over the world. During a 2013 show in Richmond, Virginia he was singing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" when a teenager in the crowd threw a vodka bottle at the stage and hit him on the head. He suffered a concussion and had to stop touring for several years. As his first album in a decade, Got To Be Tough was highly anticipated when it was released on Trojan Jamaica label August 28. On the cover the former boxer and lifelong fighter can be seen throwing a punch. Just a day after the album dropped, Toots came down with symptoms similar to COVID 19. Within a few days he was hospitalized where doctors placed him into a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. As his Tidal obituary pointed out, he passed away exactly 33 years after his old friend Peter Tosh died by gunfire.

Songs like "Just Brutal" from the hit different now, with Toots pleading for more love in a world gone wrong. "We were brought here," Toots sings. "Sold out. Victimized brutally. Every time I keep remembering what my grandfather said before he died."

“I’m feeling alright,” Toots said the last time we spoke, while he was still sidelined with stress issues due to the bottle-throwing incident. "I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling just cool because is Jah works. You seet?" I asked him if the song "Bam Bam," was about him—a peaceful man who should not be provoked—or else. "Nooo don't trouble him," Toots said with a laugh. "It’s gonna be double trouble, triple trouble. A lot of trouble."

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