The legacy of Bob Marley extends past his revolutionary lyrics and everlasting redemption songs. His family, which includes 12 children, continues to represent the Rastafarian Movement worldwide, praising herbal meditation as a holy sacrament and reminding us to love each other.
Julian Marley, the third youngest son of the reggae legend, was born in 1975 in London, England. As a self-taught musician he formed his first group, The Uprising Band, and went on a global tour to promote his 1996 critically acclaimed album Lion In The Morning. Having already created a name for himself by touring with his brothers and sisters in The Melody Makers, his debut was warmly welcomed by reggae fans.
Julian assisted his Marley brothers in the creation of the platinum album, Chant Down Babylon (1999), and contributed to the song “Master Blaster” on the Stevie Wonder tribute album, Conception (2003). A Time & Place (2003) is his second solo album release. Cannabis Culture sent Jeniffer Zimmerman to interview Julian as he was in the studio working on his third album, to be released sometime in 2009 [Available Now].
Jeniffer Zimmerman: What are the current laws in Jamaica regarding herb?
Julian Marley: Well, the laws in Jamaica are the same as the laws in almost every part of the world. We don’t get much support, other than the natural support of the culture, but that’s not much support still, you know? Most people probably smoke; you can’t really hold it down.
JZ: What do you think is the barrier? Why do you think Jamaica continues to enforce a law that doesn’t support the people?
JM: I think it’s coming from old laws. Mankind has learned so much over the centuries, and things should be updated to this new intelligence. If mankind knows the greatness of herb now, things should change, but the laws are being run by an old colonial system.
JZ: How does herb influence your life?
JM: When you smoke herb you go inside of yourself and get inspiration. First of all, the inspiration has to come from the Almighty, you know? We as Rastafarians use it in our prayer. When you smoke, you meditate and pray. I can reason positive things. If you are having a reasoning, it makes you go into yourself more, and focus on what you are trying to focus on, without going onto another topic. It’s meditation for spiritual use. It’s sacramental to me.
JZ: Does it influence your music?
JM: It influences the vibe maybe, because the music is there anyway. But maybe it makes you go deeper. It makes you go free, into a meditation. Like when we are on stage. Even if you never smoke, you are going to get that inspiration still, but it’s just that you can close your eyes and…I don’t even see nothing in front of me, just the vibration of the music going out to the people. So that is the kind of inspiration from the herb, that kind of freeing yourself. Just free.
JZ: Did you know there is an herb named after your family, called Marley’s Collie?
JM: (laughing) No, I hadn’t heard. Nice.
JZ: Do you have a favorite kind of ganja?
JM: Favorite kind? My favorite kind has no name. You know? A brethren comes with it, you don’t know the name, but you say, “Yah, this is nice.” It grows properly and gets the full nurturing from the soil.
JZ: That is one of the things that I love about Jamaica, the herb is really different there.
JM: Yah, mon. I guess it is part of the red dirt, because Jamaica has a lot of red soil. And then the whole place, it’s coming from a culture of many years before. Herb was found on King Solomon’s tomb, and that was the wisest man of creation, so the Bible says. So you see we are Rasta people. We like to say “Rasta”, which is African people coming up from Jamaica but spreading to everywhere in the world: to India, to China. Everywhere you look in the world you can see a Ras. Today you see an Indian man with [dread]locks, or a Chinese man with locks. Everywhere in the world, Rasta use herb for spiritual reasons. We don’t drink alcohol, so it’s not like that. We smoke herb for a different meditation. Maybe if more people were smoking it on a spiritual level, our governments couldn’t really say certain things. Herb is a tree. Even where man don’t go. You can find the herb seed in some bushes, where man has never gone before, you know?
JZ: Your father’s music has changed the lives of countless people.
JM: You have to keep going back to the Almighty Father, because my father was the chosen one to deliver the message through the music, so it is very special that there is only one of him. He influenced my life, and I still can’t explain how, because I am doing what I’m doing, which is the same thing. But yet we still can’t explain exactly how it influences, or how the music or the energy bestows upon you. So the energy sometimes, you don’t even understand. It’s cosmic. What he does for me is life. Yah. It’s great. Like, I gotta ask you, what does he do for you?
JZ: Well, it’s hard to explain how Bob Marley has changed my life. I can’t point to one thing. I couldn’t even say what my life would have been like if I hadn’t come across your father’s music.
JM: True, true. Yah, mon.
JZ: But I was thinking of you, as the biological son of this great man. I was trying to imagine if Bob Marley was my father, and I one day realized that he wasn’t just my father, that he meant so many things to the world. Do you have an experience of that realization?
JM: Growing up as a youth, you go to school and you have some kids say, “Blood of Bob Marley”. That might, as a youth, make you boost for a few minutes. But as you grow and mature, you learn that yah, well, we give thanks for Bob Marley. But your head cannot swell. Because there are so many great things in life that your head can swell, you know? And once it’s swollen, you get big headed, and maybe you make a lot of money and it goes to your head. So over the years, we learn to live humbly, because it’s God’s work. But of course you go through that, but as you grow you learn to calm that down, otherwise you have pride. The same way, when we pray, our father is there also. He is in every one of us. That is why we can feel the humility and humbleness, because he is in us. You are a normal person still, but you have that extra, extra blessing from the Almighty, which is to bring the word of God to the people through this music, reggae. Even in this time there are a lot of people who do not know this music; some people who never heard that kind of music. Even right now it is almost fresh. They’ve heard of Bob Marley, but they haven’t heard anything new in that kind of rhythm. So right now, our father’s being here is a blessing to humanity, a blessing to Jamaica, a blessing to I and I, to show I and I to go forward in positiveness. Yah, mon, so it’s great. And we love our father, and that love can never go down, it keeps going up every day. It’s like we feel him more every day. His spirit comes around very strong.
JZ: You travel all over the world and like you said, you meet people in China and India with locks. Do people ever come up to you and share with you experiences or stories about how your father’s music has personally touched them?
JM: Yah mon! Same as you, how you explain to me. There are other ones. That is what we say is God, because there is not another one that has had this kind of influence. Other music is just music. You might dance to it, you might have their picture up in your house, but they are not influencing your life, really. But here is a man where you have his music but also he influences your life. So that is like God saying, go out there my son and do this work and the people will receive you warmly. So that is the kind of energy through hard work, also, and sweat.
JZ: What has been the biggest – if there is a biggest – lesson you’ve learned from your father?
JM: The biggest thing we learned from our father is to be humble and be persistent in whatever we are doing. We are here, and I and I feel that we are here to do this work, the same way and the same message we have been singing. Any time I listen to my father’s music or look at his picture I get enough motivation for years. You know? A spiritual energy. To me, when I play music, I play with all of these spirits. All the ancestor spirits. To me, it’s just life. That might be too much to explain and write about, but that is how I feel.
JZ: Earlier, you said that this music is the message of the Almighty. And that is what reggae is, the message of the Almighty?
JM: I want to tell you that reggae music is music of Kings. So when you hear that music, it is royal music. Reggae music is God music. People can sing whatever you want to sing, but when you transcend this message, like our father transcend it, that is the ultimate. So right now, let’s play reggae music and put this message out to the people all over the world. We can sing about herb. We can also sing about hopefulness, love and unity with each other. Really and truly, neighbor to neighbor. A long time we sing about loving your neighbor, but we can live in a house and still not see your neighbor. And he probably hears the same songs but is not connecting it in the mind. So we need these upcoming youths in reggae music. We party also, but we have to put this conscious music out in the world. That is the best carrier for God music. You have gospel too, but through reggae you have direct spirit that I feel immediately, you know? Yah.
JZ: Would you say that the message of reggae, the message of the Almighty, is to love each other?
JM: Yah, and to love God. When you love God, you love each other. You must love your neighbors. You can’t go to Zion with hate or inequity in your heart; those things are what we are trying to beat out in these times. Every day the music comes to our hearts, sometimes even a message to me. Sometimes you are singing and a line comes out, and that line comes through the divine inspiration from the Almighty. Sometimes this is not we talking these things, you know what I mean? They just come through. We are just the vehicle and just push out the sound.