The reggae scion talks his new doc Marley Africa Road Trip.
While Ziggy Marley may be following closely in the footsteps of his iconic father, Bob Marley, he's certainly not living in his shadow. The five-time Grammy winner has continued the musical legacy of the reggae icon and kept the large Marley clan (fifteen siblings in all) together.
The new documentary Marley Africa Road Trip shows Ziggy's commitment to another one of his father's dreams: advocating for African unity. The musician, along with his brothers Rohan Marley and Robbie Marley, embark on a motorcycle journey across South Africa with the aim of holding a free concert in Soweto during the World Cup.
In our exclusive interview, Bob Marley's first-born son talks about maintaining his father's legacy, responds to the rampant homophobia in reggae and reveals the status of his relationship with Rohan's ex, singer Lauryn Hill.
You have a lot of siblings. Why the three of you on this road trip?
Everybody was invited, but everybody had their schedules. But the three of us were the ones who could come and thought we would have a good time. We were on bikes, we were in South Africa, it was something that we've never done before. I asked who wanted to come, and Rohan and Robbie immediately said "yeah, we in it." But hopefully next time all the brothers and sisters will come!
African unity was very important to your father, and was the message of his historic concert in Zimbabwe in 1980. Do you think this film will help spread that message?
This was one of the first steps for us. It was an exploratory mission. I think it was really important for me to understand what the next generation of Africans think, what is there mindset. The next generation of Africans are so far-removed from our forefathers. That means we need to keep certain ideas in their grasp, or else it would be forgotten. This was the first step we could have taken to keep the ideas of my father alive.
Many artists have been inspired by your father, including Lauryn Hill. Some say she is an honorary Marley. Do you consider her one?
No, she's a sister but there's no such thing as "Honorary Marley." There's no need for these things. We are a spiritual family. The name Marley isn't important, it is the love that we have, that we give and that we receive. So the Honorary Marley thing isn't something that I condone, I condone the spirit of love that we share with each other. Lauryn is a sister. She's family. I am uncle to her children. She's part of the family.
Your musical style is obviously very inspired by your father, and indeed in this film you cover many of his songs. Are you ever intimidated to sing his classics?
My father's songs don't intimidate me, my father's songs are my songs. My songs are his songs. There's no intimidation. I never thought about it that way, I just sing. I grew up with my father playing music around the house. We used to sing with my father when he was writing songs. The idea of who my father is to me is very different than who he is to you, or to the rest of the world. I grew up in the studio, I grew up in rehearsals. It's a part of who I am.
Despite the idea of "One Love," reggae music has come under fire for propagating homophobia. How do you think Bob Marley would have felt about that?
I have no idea how he would have felt about that. My father speaks for himself, through his music. You mentioned the idea of "One Love." That is what he professes, that's it. I couldn't put words in his mouth, other than what he has already spoken about.
As the eldest son and most successful brother in music, do you feel responsible for Marley legacy?
It's an inborn thing with us. I don't do this because I feel a responsibility to my father. It's just something that's in me. It was put in by my father, and my mother, and my whole family. They saw themselves as unselfish people. They were inspired to speak, to say something meaningful. My whole family is spiritual. My grandmother, grand aunt, cousins, they're all preachers and pastors. Spirituality is a part of my family, from generations ago.
Marley Africa Road Trip comes to DVD and VOD on May 7.
Get ready for the BET Experience, featuring Beyoncé, Snoop Dogg, R. Kelly, Erykah Badu, Kendrick Lamar and many more. Go here for more details and info on how to buy tickets.
BET.com is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)