Chuck D reflects on how Bob Marley influenced his career and breaks down the classic “Get Up, Stand Up” in this exclusive excerpt from the Public Enemy rapper’s Audible original Songs That Shook the Planet.
As the rapper says in the clip, he grew up listening to Jamaica’s roots records and found it paralleled the emerging hip-hop movement, noting how Marley’s early ska songs with the Wailers, like “Simmer Down,” were “directed to the Jamaican ‘rudeboys,’ or the Black youth that were criminal juveniles… that sounds similar, right?”
Chuck D also explores Marley’s transition from ska artist to reggae star to Rastafarian, exemplified on the 1973 single “Get Up, Stand Up.”
“‘Get Up, Stand Up’ was a song that called for action, both physical and spiritual,” Chuck D says. “Co-written with Peter Tosh, reportedly after touring Haiti and also seeing the impoverished conditions that mirrored their own Trenchtown experience, the song was a testament to the toughness that they had growing up in Jamaica, struggling for respect and equality.”
Elsewhere on Songs That Shook the Planet — Chuck D’s contribution to Audible’s ongoing Words + Music series, available to stream now — the rapper discusses his connection to songs like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Too Short’s “The Ghetto,” and more.