Four years after his Grammy Award winning solo debut Mind Control, Stephen Marley is returning with a new solo album, titled Revelation Part I: The Root of Life. True to Marley’s lenghthy credentials, the album is a fiery slab of new reggae music, complete with soft-spoken ballads, vicious dancehall mashers, and plenty of positive, conscious vibrations stewing beneath every mile-wide bassline. The album also features guest appearances from Marley brothers Damian “Jr. Gong” and Ziggy Marley, as well fellow reggae music luminaries Capleton and Buju Banton.
Stephen recently sat down for a few moments with The Pier to share his thoughts regarding life, art, music and the growth in his own life as a result of this album.
The Pier: The cast of the Broadway production ‘Fela’ makes an appearance on the first track of your new record, “Made in Africa.” How did this come about?
Stephen Marley: I had this song “Made In Africa” and I wanted it to feel as authentic as it could be. I knew I’d have to have African drums and whatnot, but I wanted an element of Africa in the song. I’m a fan of Fela’s, and I knew they were in New York, the cast, so we reached out to them.
The Pier: I’d like to ask you about some of your more socially conscious tracks such as “Made in Africa” and “Can’t Keep I Down.” When you sing these songs with a real social/political angle, who are you singing for?
Stephen Marley: People. Mankind
The Pier: All of mankind?
Stephen Marley: Who could I not be speaking to? I’m speaking to all my human brothers and sisters. I’m speaking to everyone. You’d have to kind of kick out the people that are not oppressed. Every nation is oppressed. As a human race we are oppressed. I’m speaking to everyone.
The Pier: And what kind of message are you hoping we take away?
Stephen Marley: Well, I am hoping to build one’s spirit and one’s outlook to keep positive and keep struggling for better, for change.
The Pier: So what else inspires you to make music?
Stephen Marley: Life inspires me. I love life. I love nature. I love my fellow human. I love life, this life that God created. That inspires me. I have a passion for life. What goes on in the world affects my art.
The Pier: In addition to your solo work, you’ve also become quite prolific as a producer and performer, working with family members of yours as well as other artists. Is there any divide for you between producing, collaborating, and performing?
Stephen Marley: Well with my brothers, we are a team. Even when I’m working on my own solo project my family is still a part of it. Producing the music is the creative part of music. It’s creating. You have new inspiration. You have new influences. It’s a new feeling. That part of it is good. It’s like making the ingredients for a cake.
Performing it and such forth is the result, it’s what comes out of all this preparation you did. Everything kind of works hand in and hand to me. I don’t love one thing, more than the other.
The Pier: And on the topic of performing will you be touring in support of this record at all?
Stephen Marley: Yeah man! I’m going out on the seventh of June. We will be starting here in America for about eight weeks and then we’ll go over to Europe for a couple weeks and then we’ll come back to America again.
The Pier: Cool. So I’d like to end this interview by asking if you could reflect a bit about the process of making your last album. You’ve accumulated a pretty large body of work in the past, and I’d like to ask how would you set apart this album from the rest of the projects you’ve produced.
Stephen Marley: This is my latest project, which just happens to be my solo project and it’s where I am today. You’ll hear growth in the music. It’s where I am.
The Pier: What kind of ‘growth’?
Stephen Marley:Well, for this album we rehearsed for like two weeks. That’s not something we’d normally do, so that to me is maturity in the music. Usually we run in the studio and say “okay get the band! These are the songs I have.” We went into the rehearsal room with no notion of recording right now, just to rehearse these songs. That’s one thing which is growth for me, because I’ve never done that before.
In general though, you’re influenced by life and life is ever-changing. It’s ever-evolving. You’re always learning. You’re always seeking knowledge. I feel some of that is depicted in the new record.
The Pier: And what is something important that you learned while making this album??
Stephen Marley: Look at “Made In Africa.” Before this album, I didn’t really realize the history of Africa. THE HISTORY, not just the artifacts, but the HISTORY of Africa that defined Africa. You have white Africa and black Africa and I never learned these things. That was one thing I was enlightened about while making this album. But we learn every day, of course.
Thanks to Stephen Marley for taking time out to answer a few questions w/The Pier. Go pick up his brand new album, now on iTunes by clicking HERE
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