Stephen Marley is back with a two part Album, Revelation Pt. 1 – The Root of Life and Revelation Pt. 2 – The Fruit of Life. We caught up with him on the new album, his close friend Buju Banton and his legendary father...
“The most important thing I learned from my father was to be righteous”
Your new album is in two parts, Revelation Pt. 1 - The Root of Life and Revelation Pt. 2 - The Fruit of Life. What is the concept behind the two albums?
One album is strictly roots; the next album is more eclectic, where I will be mixing hip-hop with reggae music, so it is left to your choice which one you want to listen to. The first album contains roots reggae music and it’s basically paying homage to the original sound of reggae music, and kind of helping to preserve that sound, bringing real roots into 2001.
The first song on the first album is called ‘Made in Africa’ and features the cast from the Musical Fela. Where did the idea to work with a Broadway cast come from?
Well, the cast are all singers, it just so happens to be a play. I really wanted some authentic
African vocals on the song and they were in New York for the play on Broadway. I just reached out to them through friends and they were up to doing it. It was great.
Are you a Fela Kuti fan?
Yeah, man. Coming up in my younger days I heard a lot of Fela Kuti, and Miriam Makeeba...
Those kinds of artists, we would play them all the time.
You are often credited with bringing the Marley name to the present day in terms of your
production style, which tends to mix reggae with a more modern sound. However, there are some hardcore roots reggae listeners who think mixing reggae and hip-hop dilutes reggae music. What do you make of that?
Well, I mean... Reggae music influences other music and there is nothing wrong with other music influencing reggae music. As long as you have a balance in the music, as far as what you give to the people, as long as you let the people have the choice... Listen to roots if you want to then you can listen to something different. Right now, we make music for the world. That is basically what this project is about. I don’t think that it dilutes the music; it is what it is. Whoever wants straight roots reggae music, then go get that. If a mix of hip-hop and reggae was the only music available, and it was being portrayed as reggae music, that is a totally different thing. Artistically speaking, if you listen to the reggae music from the ‘70s, that music was still influenced by American music. So music always influences music. There is nothing wrong with that; it’s just one’s preference.
Your track, ‘Jah Army’, on Revelation Pt. 1 features your close friend and dancehall artist Buju Banton. What can you say about his current situation?
It’s not something I really want to speak too much on, but what I will say is: be careful. Be
careful of America and open your eyes. Look at how someone with no history of dealing drugs, or ever dealing with drugs, can now be in jail for ten years. Why? Because government men seek him out and set him up. Is that what the government is for? To entrap people? This was a man with kids, a career... And now what? A fuckery...
The 11th of May 2011 marked 30 years since the passing of your father, Bob Marley. What do you think was the most important thing you learned from him?
The most important thing that I learned from him was to be righteous, you know? To be a good
person in the sight of God. That is the true foundation of life.
It is a beautiful thing that you are so close with your all of your brothers and sisters. How do you all manage to stay so close and why is it so important to you all?
I always say that I think we are bound by a greater cause than just biology, than just being
related by blood. We have a greater purpose that binds us and it happens through our spirit, and that is what I think it is really. It has to do with more than just being blood related. We share a common cause and a common purpose: to be a positive force within humanity, to help share the light of God and the light of love and the light of positivity. We all have that in us; I don’t know if we inherited it... But that is what I think truly binds us.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?
I think people don’t really understand the way we grew up. I think they think we were living in
Beverly Hills like some rich kids somewhere. People tend to think that we just live off our name too and make music off our name. That is not the case; we all just love music and make music because we love it.
Revelation Pt. 1 - The Root of Life is out now and available to buy online