Skip Marley sits zen like the airy expanse of the chic M5 Showroom in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. On this early Spring day, his longtime hair-stylist Nedjetti Harvey sheens his glorious mane of dreadlocks as the iconic tunes from his grandfather, Bob Marley, waft through the famous fashion showroom where he is being photographed exclusively for The Untitled Magazine’s “INNOVATE” Issue. It is the first time the Marley brood have been away from their vast residential compound in South Florida since the pandemic hit, and the giddy mood is palpable. Momager Cedella is in another corner FaceTiming the family matriarch Rita to let her know that the clan had arrived safe and sound after a two-day road trip taken just for this moment.
And what a breakthrough year 2021 was for the third-generation Marley lion zion. His debut EP, Higher Place spawned two 2021 Grammy nominations, for Best Reggae Album and Best R&B Song for “Slow Down.” It was that chart-topping duet with H.E.R. — certified as one of Billboard’s top R&B hits of 2020 — that Marley made history with by becoming the first Reggae artist to score a #1 track on the R&B charts. It’s an accolade his grandfather Bob craved but sadly never lived long enough to achieve. Skip Marley’s innovative take on the Reggae genre and uncanny resemblance and vocality to his venerated grandfather clearly assure that the third-generation Marley is more than ready for his close-up. And as he gets ready to drop new music, The Untitled Magazine decided to check in with the Zoomer Marley.
Read the full interview from The Untitled Magazine‘s latest print edition, The “INNOVATE” Issue, out now.
So what’s new with the Generation Z Marley? What dreams will you be selling this new season?
I am always working on music! But I don’t write music or sing music expecting to win Grammy nominations. But I have been very happy that people support my music. My love is for the people. It is the people who push the music to where it is. I don’t like to talk about anything before it’s ready, but I have a lot of music coming up. Let’s just say It’s going to be a fun summer! I definitely want to drop some new music and bring an uplifting vibe. I don’t know what the first single will be yet but I plan to drop my new album soon.
I am sitting here talking to you and getting to know you for the first time and I am feeling that I am actually sitting before Bob Marley reincarnated. The voice, the cheekbones, the mannerisms – it’s all remarkably uncanny. That Levi gene of Bob Marley is truly one of a kind. Do you feel pressure to live up to the standards of your grandfather?
I don’t feel any pressure whatsoever. I think of my grandfather as a blessing. I feel honored to carry on his name and what he stood for.
There must be some pressure. You were named Skip which is actually the nickname Bob Marley’s nearest and dearest insiders referred to him back in the day. They all called him Skip. I love that little gem which no one really knows about.
Yes! Only very close friends of my grandfather called him Skipper or Skip. The name Skip was one of my grandfather’s nicknames, and it just comes from being the captain of the ship – they call you Skipper.
Paramount Pictures has in development right now the coming Hollywood biopic on your grandfather Bob Marley. Are you going to audition for the lead role?
Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say no fully but it is not something I am pursuing. Music has always been my thing. I have never really thought about movies or acting as my grandfather or anyone else.
I know your mother is proud that you actually have already done something Bob Marley never managed to achieve, and that is you are in fact the first Jamaican artist to have a #1 hit on the Billboard Adult R&B charts. Your Grammy award-nominated hit with H.E.R., “Slow Down,” was one of the coolest summer anthems of the pandemic 2020.
My mom helps me with everything. She has been a huge part of everything I’ve accomplished this past year. And yes, from the moment I finished “Slow Down” I knew it was a really powerful and special record. I am just glad other people liked it as much as I did. I am happy for the success of H.E.R. and yes, we do keep in touch.
When you collaborate on music and writing and working with Rick Ross or H.E.R. or Katy Perry — all of whom you’ve done features with — when and how does the creative process of collaborating with another artist begin?
I love connecting with other people through music. If that’s family members, friends, or other musicians. Collaboration brings out something special and different than just recording alone. I am so grateful that I have gotten to collaborate with artists across many genres.
They say fortune favors the brave, but what do you think Skip Marley?
Being brave can be a challenge but it’s always worth it. In my family, we are taught to work hard and chase after what we want. So I guess I’d have to say yes, fortune favors the brave.
Did you play with Lego or toy dinosaurs as a child or did your stage mama Cedella thrust a guitar in your hands from the age of six?
[Breaks out laughing] I played with toys all the time as a kid. I didn’t start seriously considering a career in music until I was around 13 years old. I was never pressured into music, it was just a natural connection for something I love – for me it was always about love.
What’s the driving narrative for your new music? Is there a nod to Afro-Punk? Or are you bringing back some Nyabinghi drum rhythms a-la The Mystic Revelations? Or is it more R&B tinged Reggae?
I love all genres! I am trying to make genre-less music. I am inspired by music from all over the world and I am trying to blend them. R&B, Caribbean, Reggae, Dancehall, Hip-Hop, Afro-beats, I want to explore them all.
Talk about the #MarleyMantras on your Twitter feed.
It honestly started really naturally, I love sharing thoughts I have or quotes I love with my followers. They always comment great ones back too.
My favorite #MarleyMantras is this one: ”Use your knowledge for good to preserve peace among men.”
The words of one of your heroes, I presume, Emperor Haile Selassie.
Haile Selassie is one of my biggest inspirations. I love reading about him.
Would you do a Verzuz clash? And if so, who would you want to face off with? Skip Marley versus Junior Gong Marley would be scintillating viewing!
Man I don’t know! I could never go up against my uncle! He has too many amazing songs. [Laughs again]
There is such a thing called The Verzuz Effect. The streaming figures are through the rook for those artists that take on the Verzuz. Don’t you care about that?
I care more about being authentic. It’s not about streaming numbers, it’s about the message and the music, the effect on people, how people are affected by it. I just want to make music that affects people positively, ya know.
You start your days with banana smoothies for breakfast. I found that out on your YouTube channel. But how about dinner? And what is the final ritual before you go to bed at night?
Yes, I try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. For dinner, I like Jamaican food, especially Ackee and Saltfish. It’s like Jamaica’s national dish. Before I go to bed I like to pray, read, or meditate.
Is it true your Mum got you all in the tour bus to drive up to New York City from Miami just to do this interview?
Yes, it is true. I have always loved the big tour bus and this was the first time we’ve left home in a year so it was the perfect time to go on another road trip with my mum and uncle and aunties. I never miss a chance to travel by road.
Thank you, Zoomer Marley, and it’s time you went back on the road.
Skip Marley @skipmarley
Interview by George Wayne @georgiewhirlofficial
Photographed by Oleg Sharov and WA Jones
Styling by Mykel Smith @mykel_c_smith_creative
Hair by Nedjetti @hairbynedjetti
Photographed at M5 Showroom @m5showroom