Beyond The Legacy
The name Marley is, of course, synonymous with reggae music. For it was Bob Marley, over a career which spanned only two decades, who changed the face of a music born of oppression and hardship in a tiny country most couldn’t locate on a map. The music itself, the music he helped create and grow, was joyous though, it was powerful, it looked to affect change, and as such, Marley and a host of other players left a legacy, one which lives on today.
A legacy wasn’t all Marley left behind. A number of offspring bear his famous name, and a good deal of them have followed in his footsteps, taking this music that runs thick and fast through their veins, and putting their own spin on it, the message itself still as loud and clear as it ever was. Julian Marley, born to Bob and Lucy Pounder in 1975, is but one example, although a fine one none the less.
Marley junior began his career in the mid ‘90s, releasing Lion In The Morning (1996), slowly but surely following it with A Time & Place (2003) and most recently, the Grammy nominated Awake (2009). “This is a time when we have the energy and we have what it takes to really get it to work,” he says, his accent a curious mixture of British High Street (where he was born) and deep Jamaican.
He’s currently in a studio in Miami, making a start on what will doubtless be his next recorded offering. As he says, he’s not been in any hurry to release over the course of his career, but right now is a time when the creative juices are, so to speak, flowing freely.
“There’s no other time than the present time to be going full blast,” he smiles. “Turn on all engines and go.”
As mentioned, reggae music is strongly message-oriented, there’s always meaning to the lyrics, to the music itself. As such, I’m interested in what’s informing Marley’s writing at the moment, where it’s going, what he’s looking to say. “It’s still the same messages we’ve always conveyed, just in different ways,” he muses.
“Right now, it’s still about the social injustice, unity, which we should be talking and singing about daily, putting it in our music,” he goes on. “The world has a million different musics – music to make you party, we use music to balance the consciousness… we try to follow the roots.”
Marley goes on to say that, once they’ve been to Australia over the New Year break, they’ll retreat back to the studio to begin in earnest the task of collating these messages, setting them to music, and committing them to disc – an epic task, no doubt.
In the meantime, a question I’ve posed to both Damian and Ziggy Marley in the past – here are these young artists who come from this lauded lineage, whose father did so much for this music. How do they go about making their own music, with his massive legacy looming above them?
“I don’t really know, but I don’t think about that,” Marley junior laughs. “I love music, I love what I do, I love who I am and I love where I came from, but I am what I am, you know? I have to be true [to that].”
Samuel J. Fell