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Ziggy Marley Is Literally the Nicest Guy on the Planet

The son of one of the most influential musicians of the past century opens up about love, life, and his newest album, 'Fly Rasta.'

In conversation, Ziggy Marley takes his time. He doesn't rush himself. He's relaxed. His delicate demeanor makes you feel at ease. During our chat, the Jamacain musician, who's just released his newest album Fly Rasta, made me feel like we were best friends. Seriously. He has this weird, uncanny ability of while talking to you, you feel like you are the only person he cares about in the world. It's politician-esque, except he doesn't stink of bullshit.


Our talk wasn't that long—barely 30 minutes—but during that time, the 45-year-old and son of one of the most influential musicians of the past century, opened up to me about his approach to life, love, and somehow remaining unjaded in the vicious music industry. It may feel a little corny to talk about the Big Ideas That Make You Think, but who what was great about talking with Marley is that he didn't really care about how things may be perceived. He just lives. And thinks you should do the same.

Noisey: What do you think it is about this album that’s making it stand out from your previous?
Ziggy Marley: It’s just the progress. I think every album is my best album. Every time I do an album it’s my best album to the date. The reason for that is that we’re always progressing. I’m always growing and getting more knowledge.

How do you stay excited making music when you’ve done it for so long?
I’m a kid at heart. I think that’s what it is. I’m enjoy my imagination. I still enjoy playing outside and playing games. I still have that childlike quality that that inspires creativity, and have avoided that unjaded adult thing, that miserable thing when you get old and you get kinda “bleh.” This is still new to me.

Can you expand on remaining “unjaded?”
It’s a mental point of view. It’s how you think of life and again, for me, my ulterior motive is one of love. This is not a business to me so my mental state is not attached to the business side of it. Nature plays a major role. Being around nature and the schools and the bees. All of these things still fascinate me. The universe fascinates me. The plants fascinates me. Everything still fascinates me. I have faith in my survival and faith in my foundation that I don’t have to worry because I know I can survive. I know I can plant something in the ground and it will grow. My life isn’t based around the industry my life is based around nature. The industry is not my life. My life is my life. It just doesn’t come across me so there’s no conflict or “how do I do it” because I don’t have to do it. It just is. It’s who I am.


Do you feel like you have to re-center yourself?
Yeah. It’s never a smooth road. But thankfully when I’m done re-centering I come back the way I want to be. Thankfully I’m able to do that. I’m able to go down a road where it may be the wrong one but it’s a road where you learn something and then get back to the right one again cause everything is a learning experience you know; even the bad stuff, even the negative stuff is something you can learn from. That’s how I do it, I learn from the worst things and then I get back to where I’m supposed to be. It’s not perfect but you learn from it cause that’s how it’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

How do you view reggae in the year 2014?
For me, the music is an individual expression. It is not an organized expression. It is not a thing where every reggae musician is doing it “this way” or “that way” and it shouldn’t be. Artists, like myself and others, we are free to evolve the music without losing its identity. We must be able to make strides and expand it oneself. If this music is alive then it must evolve, it must move, it must live. It cannot be stagnant. It cannot stay the way it always was. That’s what the album is about it’s about the evolution of music and as an artist, understanding that I cannot follow anyone or be like anyone. I have to be who I am and I have the right to make reggae the way I want to make reggae not by any rules or anybody’s idea of what it is. I also have the right to tell you what it is because it is my music. What I made 20 years ago, that’s what it was then but this is what it is now and its still reggae whether you can feel it or not that’s up to you and as the maker, I’m telling you what it is.


Reggae [in 2014] has something that you probably never expected or never heard before in it. It’s like a new soup. We usually make the soup like this but guess what, I’m adding this spice to it. It’s the same bean soup but I’m gonna add a spice to it. That doesn’t change the soup, it just changes the taste or the flavor. But it’s still a bean soup.

Do you feel misunderstood?
Because reggae has been such a powerful tool, such a powerful music, and my father is such a powerful figure— people don’t understand that when my father was doing his music, it was innovative; it was adventurous. What you now know as “reggae”—from my father, because he’s such a big part of what reggae is. When he was doing it, he was unique; it wasn’t what everyone else was doing. So now when myself as an artist or others, do something that is unique, they cannot understand “this is not reggae” or “this is not that” or whatever. No it’s not because even when the great artists were doing it, it wasn’t something that was uniformed across the border as “reggae”. Bob Marley was a maker. He made it how he felt about it as an artist. Same thing Ziggy Marley is doing. I am a maker; this is “Ziggy Marley reggae.” It’s still reggae, just like the soup and I think that’s a misunderstanding and where people get confused in thinking because of the impact of my father and “Bob Marley’s reggae” that if you don’t follow that, they judge it very critically. The hard core fans are very critical. They’re thinking “that’s not bean soup, that’s a different type of soup” and I’m thinking “no its is still bean soup brotha I just added a little cinnamon”.


We have to push the people. We have to push the audience. We cannot live in the same place. We have to push them to break new grounds or otherwise we keep repeating the same things over and over and that’s no fun. That’s not creativity, that’s not life. You know? We are living we have to live.

Do you feel pressures of fame, with such a recognizable name and heritage?
I don’t carry myself that way. I’m not that famous. I mean my father is really famous but me personally—the good thing about this is that we get a lot of love. People that love us and know of us have a love for what my father has done and what we’re doing and it’s really like a community of us, and we treat everyone with respect and that’s how we go about it.

Eric Sundermann isn’t that famous. He’s on Twitter — @ericsundy


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