Recording information: Circle House Studios, Miami, Florida; Lionsden Recording Studio, Miami, Florida; Tuff Gong Recording Studios, Kingston, Jamaica.
Coming five years after the rootsy Revelation, Pt. 1: The Root of Life, Stephen Marley's 2016 LP Revelation, Pt. 2: The Fruit of Life is a more electronic and studio-driven effort, which in the case of this artist/studio whiz kid, is a plus. Instead of Capleton and the Cast of Fela, the guest artists here are primarily from dancehall and hip-hop, the latter being well represented by Waka Flocka, an MC who's a surprising asset on the sure declaration of self, "Scars on My Feet." Waka returns later for the aptly titled "Tonight (It's a Party)" that also adds DJ Khaled and Iggy Azalea to the mix, but if seeing the names Busta Rhymes and Konshens together on one cut suggests another club track, "Pleasure or Pain" is both an utterly serene love song and a chilled-out highlight. This weighty effort is also deep from the start as "Babylon," featuring Junior Reid and Dead Prez, "Revelation Party" featuring Jo Mersa Marley, plus "So Unjust," featuring Rakim and Kardinal Offishall, are all compelling revolution songs that follow the album's epic intro. Odd that Nina Simone's name has fallen off "Father of the Man," as early versions of the single listed her next to Wyclef Jean as a "featured" artist, but the song is sincere and beautiful, as is the Rick Ross feature "The Lion Roars." Stephen's production is compelling, elaborate, daring, and yet tasteful throughout, while his lyrics -- like his brother Damian's -- offer plenty to savor once all the sonic brilliance has sunk in. File this massive effort next to Damian's Welcome to Jamrock, Stephen's own diverse 2007 release Mind Control, and maybe even Dad's 1976 "Roots, Rock, Reggae" breakthrough, Rastaman Vibration. ~ David Jeffries