Ky-Mani Marley focuses on education and freedom of thought
By Tyler Davidson
The offspring of the legendary Bob Marley have been hard at work making names for themselves for years, and Ky-Mani Marley, the only child of Marley and table tennis great Anita Belnavis, is no different. Last year, Marley’s memoirs, Dear Dad: Where’s the Family in our Family, Today?, was released to a fair deal of controversy when Ky-Mani accused publisher Dr. Farrah Gray of twisting his story. The two eventually came to an agreement and Ky-Mani hasn’t looked back since. CULTURE recently spoke with Ky-Mani about his charity, the Love Over All Foundation, an organization dedicated to “promoting positive change in low socioeconomic communities,” his upcoming album Evolution of a Revolution and more.
Regarding your Love Over All Foundation, was there any one specific event that prompted you to start the foundation?
Yeah, actually, going back to my school where I was as a child and walking around the school after not [having been] back in so many years. Going there to see the condition that a lot of the children were in as far as . . . you know, dirty uniforms, the heels of their shoes are falling off, to find that there’s still 30 percent of children who are not in school [because they] can’t afford tuition, can’t afford lunch money, who can’t afford uniforms, and that was sad because, you know, in life, most important is education. With an education, the possibilities are endless. So there are a lot of children being deprived of that just because they can’t afford it, and it wasn’t a lot of money, so that really motivated me to want to be [someone] that gave these children a chance, that gave them an opportunity to maybe even discover something about themselves that they themselves don’t know that they have. For me, it was simple. I just wanted to be somebody that could help make changes.
As far as Evolution of a Revolution is concerned, how would you say it differs from your past releases?
Wow. You know me, I’m always pushing the envelope . . . For me, the next one always has to be better than the last one. With this album, I’m doing a double-CD. The Revolution [part] is really a follow-up to [2007’s] Radio, that part of the CD is a follow-up to Radio. It’s kind of hip-hoppy, with, I guess, a touch of R&B influences there. And then the Evolution side of it is where reggae meets like soft rock meets alternative. I’d like to consider that part of it music that speaks to the soul. Music that you sit and listen to and hopefully can take something from.
What do you think it will take for marijuana to be legalized?
Wow. I thought we came pretty close the other day [with Proposition 19], wasn’t it? In the whole voting thing? So hopefully it will just take a few more people to wake up and realize the necessity of this . . . My father said, in an interview I’ve listened to over and over again, that what herb did for him was give him freedom of thought, you know what I mean? And that’s a dangerous thing, especially when you’re in a society where the heads of government want to control you. So, to know that this herb will actually give [people] the freedom of thought and [will] to be independent, because that’s what herb gives you, too, it makes you want to be independent. It makes you want to do your own thing and not work for somebody else. But I think in due time. Not before its time.
What sort of a role does marijuana play in your life, personally?
Oh my, it plays every role in my life. I wake up to it, I’m with herb right through the day and before I go to bed at night. It really keeps me focused. It’s my meditation. I’d like to call it my escape from the world, but it’s not an escape from the world. This is my reality. This is what allows me to deal with what’s going on in the world and what’s taking place day in, day out.
Contrary to what you might think, Ky-Mani Marley had no interest in following his famous father’s footsteps and pursuing a musical career at first. Instead, the son of Tuff Gong leaned more towards sports, namely soccer and footbal. But when he teamed up with Pras of The Fugees in 1997 and collaborated with Eddy Grant, everything changed. What the sports world lost, the world of music gained.