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Bob Marley’s ‘Chant Down Babylon’ Remix Album Is Now Eligible For Platinum Certification In The U.S.

Bob Marley‘s remix album “Chant Down Babylon” has sold 1.7 million units in the U.S. including 800K in sales and 197M in on-demand streams as of October 16, 2023 according to data provided to WMV by Luminate. It is now eligible for Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association Of America and has surpassed 162 million streams on Spotify.

The album produced by Stephen Marley was released by Island/Tuff Gong Records on October 26, 1999 and features reimagined Marley classics through the lens of contemporary hip hop and rock artists. Tracks like “No More Trouble,” “Rebel Music (3 O’Clock Roadblock),” “Johnny Was,” and “Concrete Jungle” are given new life by artists such as Erykah Badu, Krayzie Bone, Guru, and Rakim.

One of the album’s standout tracks is “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” which features Lauryn Hill which was released as a single, complete with a music video directed by Francis Lawrence, starring Hill and Rohan Marley, Lauryn’s then spouse and one of Bob’s sons.

“Rastaman Chant” features Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad, while “Guiltiness” includes contributions from Lost Boyz and Mr. Cheeks. 

“Jammin'” is given a hip hop twist with the involvement of MC Lyte, while “Kinky Reggae” features The Marley Brothers and The Ghetto Youths Crew, adding a contemporary edge to the reggae classic. “Roots, Rock, Reggae” is enlivened by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, offering a unique rock interpretation of Marley’s work. While “Survival a.k.a. Black Survivors” features Chuck D, and “Burnin’ and Lootin'” sees contributions from The Roots and Black Thought.

Upon its release, “Chant Down Babylon” reached #60 on the US Billboard 200 chart and No. 95 on the U.K. Official Albums chart. In addition to its U.S. official Gold certification on March 14, 2000 for selling 500,000 units, the album is also certified Gold in Canada (50,000 units), France (100,000 units), Switzerland (25,000 units), US (500,000) and Silver in the U.K. (60,000). In New Zealand, it received a Platinum certification with 15,000 units sold.

Chant Down Babylon album art work

Speaking exclusively with WMV about the album is Executive Producer Maxine Isis Stowe, as she recalls how the project was made, marketing and climbed the charts during the record industry’s most successful year. 

Can you share the backstory of how you became involved in co-executive producing “Chant Down Babylon Remixes” with Bob Marley?

I had recently left Columbia Records having spent 5 successful Years there with an array of artists and projects. I was recommended to Chris Blackwell by Sly Dunbar, who was enjoying contemporary success there with Chakademus & Pliers/Murder She Wrote, where Chris had started Island Jamaica with Jon & Ziggy Baker in that period. I started as VP of A&R in 1996 with my first project being Jimmy Cliff Higher & Higher & the Dancehall Queen Film & Soundtrack. I was working on Chevelle Franklyn’s debut album and was hoping to sign Beenie Man.

The Bob Marley Catalog/Estate was being ran through Bob Marley Music Inc/Island and so I began to work also with the Marley Catalog and collaborated with Cedella Marley/Tuff Gong International & Stephen Marley/Ghetto Youths. Bill Levenson head of Catalog reissues I worked with on as Compilation Producer for The Wailers/Bob Marley Solo catalog 2001 reissue catalog campaign.

Maxine Isis Stowe

“Chant Down Babylon” was a groundbreaking project that fused Bob Marley’s original recordings with contemporary artists. What inspired this innovative concept?

My Columbia years 1990-1995 had me in full interface mode with the Urban Hip Hop artists with the Def Jam label/Ruff House Fugees, Nas, Jay Z, Destiny Child and a host of others like Puffy, Biggie Smalls, Heavy d, KRS 1, Mary J Blige etc. So it naturally emerged that Stephen/Ghetto Youths were trending to the Hip Hop scene. DJ Khaled was just cutting his teeth amongst them in their Miami Base and Circle House studios was also establishing their base as an Urban Music haven giving Ghetto Youths/Stephen lots of exposure.

This is how the project emerged from Ghetto Youths/Stephen and we hired Big Jon Platt as Executive Producer, a top Urban Publisher Guru who has major links and access to artists.

What do you think of the latest Bob Marley collab album “Africa Unite” which sold only 1000 units the first week?

I haven’t listened to it as yet, but it has similar hallmark catalog tracks as chosen for both Legend & Chant Down Babylon. It’s produced by several producers from the Afrobeats genre. I didn’t notice any active collaboration from Ghetto Youths/Stephen, so I expect that to create a differential. Its existence/production is related to the current dominance of the Afrobeats genre and for me personally as a Rastafari visionary it makes cultural thematic sense.

What was the most challenging aspect of bringing together such a diverse group of artists to collaborate on reimagining Bob Marley’s songs?

It was challenging in terms of artists schedules, participation and label clearances. Which is why we would hire someone high up in the Urban market as co-Executive Producer.

Most artists of every genre love and are familiar with Bob Marley, so getting their interest is never a problem.

Could you describe the creative process behind selecting which Bob Marley songs to include in the album, and why those specific songs were chosen?

Stephen vibed and led the selection choosing songs that lent themselves to the urban feel. A wider selection was chosen giving artist’s choices. Roots Rock Reggae was initially chosen for Lenny Kravitz but based on schedule and feel we went with Steven Tyler/Joe Perry of Aerosmith fame.

What was your role in preserving the integrity of Bob Marley’s music and message while giving it a fresh, contemporary twist?

There was a lot of pushback throughout but the understanding that it was Bob Marley’s passion to crossover to the African American market and the affinity that was organically occurring between reggae, dancehall and hip hop made it flourish. Artists like Erykah Badu, Black Thought, Lauryn Hill/Fugees and really all that were chosen were conscious in their image, music and character.

“Chant Down Babylon” was released posthumously. How do you think it contributed to Bob Marley’s legacy and the reggae genre as a whole?

For me personally it capped this A&R era of cross fertilization of genres and especially the respect for Jamaican music influence. I think Bob on a spiritual and cultural level had crossed over to the Urban market as we were approaching 2 decades after his passing, and it added context to this generation of Urban artists and fans.

Collaborating with artists like Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu must have been an incredible experience. Can you share any memorable moments from working with them on the project?

The artists were not only in awe of Bob Marley, but also Stephens production ethics and aura. Stephen went on to do a duet with Erykah Badu “So In Love” that actually opened the door for Ghetto Youth/Stephen Marley to get a label deal at Motown.

A great marketing tool was a TNT Bob Marley Tribute Concert held at James Bond Beach a month after its release, where both Lauryn & Erykah participated.

As this album was released Chris Blackwell left Island to set up Palm Pictures, Stephen Marley/Marley Brothers contributed a remake of Ini Kamoze’s “Call The Police” for the Third World Cop Soundtrack there. Also the Bob Marley Tribute Concert was packaged and released as a DVD for Palm Pictures.

What do you believe Bob Marley’s music represents in the context of social and political change, and how did “Chant Down Babylon” reflect these ideals?

As a Rastafari, I consider Bob Marley in the context of The Wailers as missionaries of the Philosophy of the movement & Reggae culture. Rastafari, which is approaching a centenary of birth/growth as an African Liberation movement and thought leadership. This type of interrogation reflects Bob within the full tapestry of the Culture and grounds the individual within the collective. Whereas Legend album was designed and marketed and successful in its objective, so too is Chant Down Babylon.

In what ways do you think “Chant Down Babylon” helped introduce Bob Marley’s music to a new generation of listeners?

Musically this album, Africa Unite and Legend are compilations designed for marketing aims and objectives to enhance and sell the music catalogs to new generations and demographics of consumers. Chant Down Babylon album as stated earlier was done in the context of a reissue of The Wailers & Bob Marley solo catalog, that had myself and Bill Levenson going into archival libraries in upstate New York & London researching unreleased masters and outtakes of the studio tapes and putting them together for Special Editions that came out 2001/2002. Catalog departments do this every 5-10 years to represent the music to new generations of consumers.

Looking back on your co-executive production of this album, what impact do you think it had on your career and the broader music industry?

It prepared me for the label deal at Motown with Ghetto Youths which launched Damian Marley & Stephen’s ongoing solo careers, the Legacy of the Jamaican music industry that was my next venture coming full circle to be working with my uncle Clement Dodd again and his return into Jamaica in 2001, and currently informing my works with Bunny Wailer, The Rastafari Community IP and Estate Management. In this latter period my uncle died in 2004, my late husband Sugar Minott in 2010 and now Bunny Wailer in 2021 all tremendous legacies in their own right, with various intersectionalities with Bob Marley.

An active witness and activist, these achievements are now my own legacy to curate and share these experiences in business and culture.

The post Bob Marley’s ‘Chant Down Babylon’ Remix Album Is Now Eligible For Platinum Certification In The U.S. appeared first on World Music Views®.

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Bob Marley’s ‘Chant Down Babylon’ Remix Album Is Now Eligible For Platinum Certification In The U.S.


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