So there’s that Notorious B.I.G. duet with Bob Marley that came out last month. Billboard reported it without comment. “Deceased duo’s collaboration is first single on rapper’s third posthumous album,” proclaims Reuters. It’s so messed up. It’s worse than that time they made Fred Astaire dance with the [Dirt] Devil by the pale moonlight.
Thankfully, The Guardian is calling bullshit on it.
The guilty parties, of course, are the late artists’ estates – the teams of lawyers, accountants and trustees that manage dead performers’ assets, usually under the guidance of one or more of the deceased’s relatives. When Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981 he did not leave a will. After years of legal battles, his widow Rita and the immediate family now control every aspect of the Marley oeuvre, from artwork to new releases. It is them I hold responsible for sanctioning an effort that does nothing to uplift the legacy of the great man.
BIG’s estate, overseen by his mother Voletta Wallace, would deny that it is cashing in on Marley’s reputation to shift records, but the music mogul behind the single, Sean “Diddy” Combs, must have thought he’d come up with the perfect crossover combination. What would happen, he must have asked himself, if the man touted by some as greatest ever rapper made sweet music with one of the giants of reggae? Thanks to the magic of digital technology, you’ll soon all be able find out.
Duets with murdered musicians is going to be the keytar of the new millenium.