Bob Marley’s second-born son has been a prodigious musician since childhood. Aged 7, he joined his siblings in The Melody Makers, singing and playing guitar and drums; he also performed at festivals with his father.
Today, the 44-year-old has six Grammy Awards to his name (more than any other reggae artist in history) thanks to his ability to fuse the music of the past and present.
His new album, Revelation Pt. II: The Fruit of Life, combines roots reggae with rap verses from the likes of Busta Rhymes and Iggy Azalea. Here, he gives a five-song guide to the music of his home country, Jamaica.
Get the new album here
Bob Marley and the Wailers – “One Love”
“It won’t come as a surprise that my first pick is a song by my father. Considering the global impact his songwriting has had over the last 50 years, he is the ultimate gateway to Jamaican music. No other song of his captures the vibe of the island better than ‘One Love.’ He wrote it as a call to unity during the turmoil of the Jamaican elections of 1976. It’s a timeless peace anthem that I love to cover at my live gigs.”
Toots and the Maytals – “Pressure Drop”
“Uncle Toots, as we’ve always called him, was a friend of my dad. He’s still such a vibrant character - I love him. His high-energy live performances earned him the reputation of being Jamaica’s answer to James Brown. This upbeat song featured on the soundtrack of the film The Harder They Come and helped introduce the world to reggae music. It remains one of the best Jamaican songs of all time.”
Alton Ellis – “I’m Still In Love With You”
“If you want to explore Jamaican music tradition a bit further, I suggest you listen to this song. A lot of people know Sean Paul’s cover version, but the original was by Alton Ellis, one of the innovators of the rocksteady genre. Rocksteady was a precursor to reggae; it was a little faster and borrowed heavily from U.S. soul music, hence many rocksteady songs have a very positive vibe. It’s beautiful - check it out!”
Culture – “Jah, Jah See Dem A Come”
“Some people think of reggae as nice sunshine music, but at times it’s extremely political - Jamaican artists such as Burning Spear and Culture recorded socially conscious songs that opened my eyes to what was going on in the world. In my teenage years, songs like ‘Jah, Jah See Dem A Come’ were an integral part of my political education.”
Third World – “1865 (96 Degrees In The Shade)”
“This song is like a lesson in Jamaican history. The lyrics retell the events of the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865 [a protest by poor black Jamaicans against an unjust government and judiciary] in a very poetic and beautiful way. I was only 9 years old when I heard the song for the first time, but I feel like I really understood the political message. It’s proof of the revolutionary power of Jamaican music.”