Words by Eddie STATS Houghton
As the scion of the Marley dynasty, Ziggy Marley has been the most uncompromising of reggae purists, never wavering from his famous father’s vision of the world. At the same time he is arguably the most successful at integrating that vision into the corporate mainstream, whether injecting it into children’s cartoons and Milk commercials, leading the Melody Makers into an endorsement deal as a Cover Girl spokesband, or–like this year–appearing in Macy’s Thanksgiving parade to promote his Grammy-winning Children’s record Family Time.
Although the brand-ification of the Marley name has garnered cynicism from some quarters. it’s safe to say most Jamaican musicians, if not most musicians, would kill to reach the heights Ziggy and his siblings have achieved. In fact it would not be much of an exaggeration to say that the Marley family forms a sort of parallel industry, oddly free of feuding, controversy and cockroach capitalism.
Since Large Up is founded on the belief that Caribbean culture ought to be valued as the premium spirit that it is, we knew we had to get into the mind of this mainstream revolutionary and find out how he makes the paradoxical logical. Fortunately, Ziggy was gracious enough to take the call:
LU: So fill is in on your activities for 2010—I believe you’re heading to Hawaii pretty soon?
ZM: True, true! Well Jack Johnson invite me fi come to the festival. The Kokua Festival inna Honolulu, is a benefit for the Kokua Hawaii Foundation. Jack is a friend of the family and was on the last record so yunno; friends ask and it’s nothing for we to participate, so we oblige it.
Q: When you say ‘last record’, I believe you’re referring to “Family Time,” which just won the Grammy?
A: Yes, it won the Grammy for Best Children’s Musical Album, which is a great honor. Getting a Grammy for children’s music is a great thing, I believe. It even greater than to win a reggae Grammy, to me. ‘cause we’ve won a few reggae Grammys. But to do this in another so-called category and especially speaking to children t’rough music… that is the ultimate thing for me.
Q: How did the idea to do a children’s record come about?
A: Well the idea came about naturally; the spirits talk to us and the spirit said: do a children’s record! That is what the spirit want you to do and you do it. We invite friends to come sing along and then we give a portion of the money to charity also which adds to the value of what we doing. It’s not just all for ourself but to benefit others. It was a good call, that happened very naturally and very spiritually, just something that came and said: this is the time for you to do music for children.
Q: But you did the theme for a children’s show before, correct?
A: Yeah, yeah we always been kinda—you know reggae music is kinda big with children, really. We’ve been doing some children’s stuff in the past and all the signs kept leading me in this direction. And this is a part of what we call as the spirit, yunno; all these signs, people asking me to do this, the Shark Tale thing (Ziggy provided the voice of Ernie in the animated film as well as singing an underwater version of his father’s “Three Little Birds”). Arthur is the animated series on PBS that we did the theme song for…life just lead me into this.