Reggae isn’t all about winding and gun shots. VIBE caught up with Jamaica’s finest Stephen Marley to chat it up about his third album Revelation Part 1: The Root of Life, his reaction to longtime friend Buju Banton’s sentencing and he stays dedicated to humanity.
VIBE: Just by the title alone, you can tell this album is going to be though-provoking.
Stephen Marley: Yes. Original reggae music in its original form, not commercialized or anything like that – that was really the inspiration behind the name. I was reading an article about the state of reggae music, and it was saying that reggae music was on the decline and I was inspired to defend reggae music and do my part. Revelation Part 1: The Roots of Life is really in homage of the roots of reggae music and preserving that sound of the music and to let everyone know that this music is still being made today. It’s still around.
Definitely. Any idea what Revelation Part 2 is going to be like?
It’s called The Fruit of Life. It’s basically the evolution of the music and the offspring of the roots which all these different branches and colorful leaves and such would fall. Part 2 will be a more eclectic album infused with hip-hop, African music and all different kinds of vibes, whereasPart 1 is mainly roots.
What topics are you touching on?
Well, the first song on the album is called “Made in Africa,” which really enlightens one about civilization as a whole–not just the black man. It started in Africa. Everything in mankind was started in Africa. That song is an enlightenment to everyone, no racial boundaries. Every mankind. We have songs like those, love songs on the album, spiritual songs on the album, we speak about slavery on the album. Various topics.
Do you want more collaborations on the second round?
Yeah. So far I have Rakim, Dead Prez, Black Tah, my brothers. I’m still finishing. I have a few more surprises.
Who would be your ultimate American artist to collaborate with?
I love Stevie Wonder. I’m a fan of country music, I’m a fan of blues. I’m a big fan of American music. They have a lot of different genres of music that I love. Hip-hop. Again, many favorites–Rakim as one. The Fruit, even though it’s a more eclectic album, I would say it has those beats you can take around to the club and feel good, but at the same time it’s coming powerful. Rakim is no joke. Dead Prez is no joke. Black Tah, again, it’s crazy.
Have you ever thought about doing a double album with your brother Damian?
Yeah. We were about to do that, but then another thing came up. We will get to it. We want to do that.
What’s the energy like between you two when you’re in recording mode?
We don’t have any competition, per se. We’re really a team. I helped Damien from a younger age and kind of groomed him so that he could be on his way and spread his wings. That respect is there with all of us. We don’t really get in a competitive thing, and if it’s there, nobody don’t really show it.
Buju Banton also makes an appearance on Part 2. What was it like recording with him before receiving the terrible news?
When he did the record was when he was out on bail. It was still [a] very emotional time. Any card could be played so we kind of cherished the time we had as good friends.
How did the news affect you?
It jerked me. When it first happened, the first part of the saga, we were in the studio maybe two days before laying down some tracks and I went to Washington to do the symposium with Damien and I got a phone call that they came and took Buju. (Describes phone call) What do you mean they came and took Buju? Who came and took Buju? Police come in. Alright, why them took Buju? This whole conspiracy thing, it really shook me because I was just with him.
What’s your passion outside of music?
Humanity. Music is the platform that has been given to me and I’ve been blessed with that talent. Music is what I know, that’s my weapon. Why I play music is really [for an] effect on mankind. Help us in which way it does, influences you spiritually, influences you morally. That’s why I play music. I love my fellow brothers and sisters.