Shenseea Breaks Down Why She Thinks Bob Marley Is “Bigger” Than Michael Jackson

Jamaican singer Shenseea has doubled down on her claim that the King Of Reggae, Bob Marley, is “bigger” than the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson, after igniting debate on the subject with a since-deleted Tweet one year ago. 

In December 2022, the Blessed artist, 27, attracted heat from some American fans of the late Thriller megastar when she tweeted: “Bob Marley is bigger than Michael Jackson.”

Speaking with PEOPLE Magazine at the Los Angeles premiere of the Bob Marley: One Love biopic on Tuesday, Shenseea explained that her opinion is based on her travels around the world.

“I just believe that facts are facts,” she began.  “From somebody who came from my country, I go everywhere and I see people wearing dreads. They’re smoking a big spliff. They have the Rasta colors. They’re trying to emulate who Bob used to be and what he represented.”

Shenseea and Ziggy Marley attend the Los Angeles Premiere Of Paramount Pictures “Bob Marley: One Love” at Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles, California (Photo: FilmMagic)

Added Shenseea: “I just feel like all over the world you hear some type of reggae music and Bob Marley is the number one leading act for that.” 

In the raging debate one year ago, some fans had perceived Shenseea’s tweet as ‘disrespectful’ towards Michael Jackson’s undeniable impact on pop music, citing his higher, record-breaking sales and cultural influence throughout the 80s and 90s. Others had argued that comparing artists from different eras and genres was inherently unfair.

During the interview, Shenseea also noted how Marley’s legacy had inspired her own music career.  “He has inspired me to do this, what I’m doing now, just to take my culture globally in a different generation,” she said. “He has done it and so it has inspired and motivated me to believe that I could do it.”

The Lick singer said that the most important lesson she learned from Marley is to be authentic. 

“It’s the hardest part, because when you travel all around the world, it’s so easy to adapt. But he has reminded me, he stayed true to himself all throughout and he reminded me that, ‘Yo, I don’t need to change.’”

The Paramount Pictures biopic, which stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Marley and Lashana Lynch as his wife, Rita Marley, will hit theaters on February 14.

Meanwhile, a Michael Jackson biopic, simply titled Michael, is currently in production and will star Jackson’s nephew, Jaafar Jackson, in the lead role and actress Nia Long as Jackson’s mother, Katherine, according to Entertainment Online.

Interestingly, Marley and Jackson’s paths once crossed on a shared stage. In March 1975, a young Michael Jackson and his brothers, the Jackson 5, opened for Bob Marley and the Wailers at a legendary concert at Jamaica’s National Stadium in Kingston. 

Before the show, the two groups met and posed for photographs together at Marley’s home at 56 Hope Road.

bob marley michael jackson jamaica
Bob Marley, Michael Jackson among members of the Wailers and Jackson 5 and other associates.

Marley died in 1981 from cancer, while Jackson passed away from a drug overdose in 2009. 

In 2021, while recounting his family’s struggle to retain control of the Bob Marley estate following his death, Rohan Marley, Bob’s fourth son, revealed that Jackson had offered to buy the rights to Marley’s music rather than assist financially.  Jackson was notorious for buying the catalogs of other artists — even those of his friends.

“Michael Jackson.  Good loving Michael,” Rohan said sardonically on the I AM Athlete podcast.

“We went to Michael and say ‘hey Michael, could you help us? We need some money, we don’t have no money and they trying to take our’ – and Michael said ‘no, I’ll buy it.’”

With additional interest from Guyanese musician Eddy Grant and other foreign investors, the offers reached US$25 million, but the Marley family refused to sell.  They eventually secured the rights to Bob’s estate, including his music and likeness, through efforts led by Cedella Marley and financial assistance from Chris Blackwell.

“Chris Blackwell, the guy everybody don’t like, he loaned us the money,” Rohan noted.

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