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Stephen Marley waters the roots of reggae

Stephen Marley is a seven time Grammy award winner now set to take reggae back to its roots. His new album Revelation Pt 1: The Root of Life is a 14 track celebration of the music his father helped create and globalize in the 60’s and 70’s. Reggaemani got a chat with this acclaimed singer, songwriter, musician and producer.

Stephen Marley started his music career at a very early age. Together with his siblings Ziggy, Sharon and Cedella he formed The Melody Makers and made his professional debut with the single Children Playing in the Streets in 1979, only seven years old. Since then he has managed to put out own albums as well as produce other artists.

He has handled production duties for several members of the Marley family, most notably his younger brother Damian Marley’s albums Half Way Tree and Welcome to Jamrock. He also co-produced the acclaimed Distant Relatives set by Nas and Damian. And it was during those sessions that Stephen begun the work of Revelation Pt 1: The Root of Life, due for release May 24th.

Started with an article
The new album is all about showcasing roots reggae and its core messages, and Stephen embarked on the journey of recording the new album after reading an article on reggae music.

“It was portrayed in a negative light. I was offended. I mean, where did you get this from,” he says in thick patois over the phone.

Stephen has a media day arranged by VP Records and he explains his view on contemporary reggae music. He feels that the genre has lost touch with its foundation.

Real reggae artists
“Roots reggae is overlooked today. Roots reggae has integrity; it is music with a purpose. It is not jump around and shake your body. That is not about preserving the foundation of the music,” he explains, and continues:

“Roots reggae is music in its time. It enlightens, and I want to introduce the music that is roots reggae.  I mean, if I should introduce someone to reggae today, who would I put on? Sean Paul? Bruno Mars?” He asks rhetorically.

Question is, who will Stephen put on?

“Without going back to the 70’s? I would pick songs. I would pick some Sizzla, Burning Spear, Bunny Wailer, myself, my brothers,” he concludes.

“You have to water the roots”
He describes the new album as foundation reggae and a positive body of work.

“It has been lost and I’m presenting it to the people. All music evolves, don’t get me wrong, but you have to water the roots,” he believes, and adds:

“Reggae music means so much. It is the voice of freedom, the voice of truth.”

People more important than Grammy’s
In the fall Stephen will put out Revelation Part 2: The Fruit of Life. It will feature an array of styles that have sprung from reggae.

“Part 2 is less of a concept. It is eclectic, and it feels good. I have rappers, deejays, sisters on it,” he says.

His previous album Mind Control won two Grammys – one for the original version and one for the acoustic version. I ask Stephen if the Grammys are important, and his answer is direct.

“No.  I mean, it feels good to be recognized by the music association and I appreciate the Grammy. But, you know, I come from Jamaica. Being famous is not my goal. My father is famous, but fame doesn’t motivate me. I have a passion for people. Affecting people is what I want, and if the Grammy will help, then it is good.”

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