Happy Birthday, Bob Marley! We'd miss the hell out of you if we weren't still routinely jamming your records ("bob+marley+ksan+1973+blogspot") and trying to keep up with the eight million b-day parties being thrown for you this month, especially your sons performance at the Smile Jamaica concert this Friday. Not to mention, we're preoccupied with selling our worldly possessions in order to buy a plane ticket to Cape Town to see the Marley family perform at Africa Unite 2007 at the end of the month. Other than that, we just have to remember to see the Africa Unite documentary on April 7th in NYC and go see Stephen and Damian at Coachella at the end of April. No sweat! Maybe we'll just change the name of the magazine to The TUFFADERGONG and call it a wrap. We could even reuse old covers. In the meantime, check our Gen F on Stephen Marley from the current issue after the jump (which includes an amazing photo by David Walter Banks), and check his appropriately titled "Traffic Jam" on the F43 podcast.
Stephen Marley pushes forward
By Peter Macia
If you’re like me, you imagine the Marley family compound as a lush paradise with maned-and-crowned lions napping in pool hammocks and Bob’s face smiling from above in a puffy cumulus. It may well be that, but speaking with Stephen Marley (Bob and Rita’s second son and de facto patriarch of the family business), I get the sense he wouldn’t know. “To tell you the truth, I’m always in the studio. That’s my habitat,” Marley says with a rasp and a laugh, and I believe him, as his productions seem to emerge from the cave that knows no Sean Paul. Marley’s production for brother Damian on “Welcome to Jamrock” had listeners from Berlin to Boston licking shots with its heavy-treading protest march that borrowed as much from old Queensbridge as old Jamaica. But Marley’s new solo single, “The Traffic Jam,” has a decidedly different agenda. It’s the impromptu block party that might have risen from the ashes of “Jamrock”’s riot, a beatboxed paean to sinsemilla on which Stephen shares toasts with Damian and jookie monster Buju Banton aside an infectious, nonsensical chorus. When asked about the inspiration for the song, Marley laughs again and reiterates that he “just make music, ya nahmean?”
Still, discographies don’t lie, and Marley’s makes it apparent that his ambition is to extend both the family legacy and the influence of its music. He produces most of what comes out of the Ghetto Youths studios along with Damian, and executive produced Chant Down Babylon, the celebrity-studded album of Bob remixes from 1999. This February, he’ll celebrate his dad’s birthday by releasing his solo debut Mind Control and participating with his family in Africa Unite in South Africa, an event that he believes can stir up old feelings. “Unity is a must, and if Africa, the greatest nation in the world, don’t unite, then no one will have unity,” he says, and damn if my fist doesn’t involuntarily begin to rise. But as much baggage as I bring to our conversation, Stephen is completely at ease with it. When he plays his father’s songs in concert or hints at them in his own, it seems less like he’s manipulating and more like he’s furthering his father’s belief in music as a uniting force.
The last voices you hear on Mind Control are those of Stephen’s children singing, and as we finish up our conversation, I can hear them wilding out in the background, so, of course, I ask him if he will force them to make music. He laughs again and promises, “I have stop them. They bombard me in the studio.” And I instantly wonder if his father at some point didn’t give the same answer.