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Skip Marley is Very Serious About Holding Down His Family's Legacy
We spoke with Skip Marley who touched on his family’s legacy, his earliest music memories, and his 2021 Grammy nominations.
Beyond his lengthy dreadlocks and his resemblance to his grandfather and musical icon Bob Marley, Skip Marley has cultivated a sound that speaks to his Jamaican heritage.
“It's naturally in us. [Music], it’s in my spirit. Music is one of the wonders of the world.” Skip said over a Zoom call earlier this week. “From all walks of life, people can vibe to a song. There's just [this] beauty in the music to me, how it can connect everybody.”
Born in Jamaica, but raised in Miami, Skip grew up engulfed in the music industry. At an early age he was constantly touring alongside his mother, Cedella Marley, and his uncles Ziggy and Stephen who made up the Grammy Award-winning group The Melody Makers. His creative journey didn’t kick in until he began playing instruments like the piano and the guitar during his early teen years.
In a new documentary titled Let’s Take It Higher by Boomshots, Skip’s background is explored as well as why he relishes in being a part of the Marley clan. It also captures his daily life which consists of making smoothies, working out, and recording music amid the pandemic.
The film, directed by Reshma B., features appearances by his mother, his uncle Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Rick Ross, H.E.R., D Smoke, his aunt, reggae legend Marcia Griffiths, and Roger Lewis of the iconic reggae band Inner Circle.
“Because his foundation is so strong we were very honest with him,” his mother Cedella shares during the documentary. “As far as what to expect, what to not expect, and to also know that you’re gonna have to do everything harder than anyone else.”
Skip's debut single, “Cry To Me,” was released in 2015 on his family’s label Tuff Gong label. He then signed with Island Records and released “Lions” and a chart-topping collaboration with Katy Perry, “Chained to the Rhythm.” Following the success of these tracks, he continued to release singles like “Calm Down” and “Refugee.”
Higher Place, his debut EP, arrived in 2020. The compilation features reggae, but it also has hints of R&B, pop, hip-hop, and a smidgen of rock. The breakout single “Slow Down,” featuring H.E.R., is an R&B and reggae track packed with a sensual vibe. The stunning duet went on to land the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top Adult R&B Songs airplay chart in May of last year. “Slow Down” received a nomination for Best R&B song at the 2021 Grammy Awards and Higher Place is nominated for Best Reggae Album.
“For me, I never make music for the Grammys," Skip said. "I [respect] all the musicians and the acts in [all] the categories. All of them and [also] who's not nominated. I'm glad, and it's the people who got me there.”
The Recording Academy recognizing Skip’s contributions to music emphasizes the ability of reggae music to transcend beyond the confines of the genre. During our talk, it became clear that rather than shy away from the weight and respect his last name holds, Skip leans into it and allows it to guide him. We recently caught up with Skip Marley who touched on his family’s legacy, his earliest music memories, and his 2021 Grammy nominations.
Can you share what your earliest memories are with music?
My earliest memories are on tour. On the side stage, watching my mother and my uncle, and my aunt performing. Just always being around it. I started playing piano, I think, when I was about six. I dove into it.
I [then] tried guitar and I remember at the time it hurt my hands. So I remember I [picked] it back up when I was probably around 13, 14. Around that same time my Uncle Stephen brought me [out] on to the stage for the first time to perform.
Do you have any specific lessons that you feel like your mom passed down to you?
Repetition is key. Perfect practice makes perfect. She's a perfectionist. I have that to work towards and strive towards. It's in me. I've always seen them, all of them, not only my mother, my uncles as well. How focused [they are]. I've watched them perfect their craft.
Do you feel music is a part of who you are because of your family?
It's naturally in us. It's in my spirit, as musicians, music does so many wonders. Music is one of the wonders of the world. From all walks of life, people can vibe to a song. There's just [this] beauty in the music to me, how it can connect everybody, that is really the main goal.
How do you feel about your Grammy nominations this year?
For me, I never make music for the Grammys. I [respect] all the musicians and the acts in [all] the categories, all of them and [also] who's not nominated. I'm glad, and it's the people who got me there, so I'm not the one. I'm for the people, I'm by the people. My love is for the people, the people really push the music to where it is.
When you think about continuing the legacy of your grandfather, your mom and other family members, do you take that seriously?
Very seriously. I'm very proud. [The] next generation we have work to do, [we’re] steadfast towards the goal. Let's keep working. We're all growing, there's a lot of us in this generation, I'm very proud of all of us. My legacy will be what it is. I just know that mankind have to unite. My message is love and truth and humility.
How do you feel about 2020 as a whole? I feel like between the pandemic and the U.S. election, I think there was so much happening.
Mankind [needs to] unite, no more going backwards. Higher planes, go forward, never back. There's a lot of, look at what's happening. It's just been changing faces and changing, it's a growing thing. So we have to be the change. I think I've seen all types of people speak up on certain things, and it's actually beautiful to see that.
What are your thoughts on creating music that unifies people?
Music is always needed. Conscious music is always positive. Anything positive is beneficial so more people will have a type of awakening, have a consciousness in a sense and start speaking on things outside, looking at things in a bigger picture. I know the people want it, the people want the music. I think a change is happening now where people are speaking out on things. So hopefully we'll get more music speaking on love and justice and to get an insight, and unity, and change and for the benefit.