Like father, like son

Ky-Mani Marley follows in his father's footsteps

For many, living up to your father's name can often be a lifelong journey. Gaining your father's approval can mean everything for some, and for Ky-Mani Marley it has proven to be his creed.

You see Marley is the son of that Marley - the godfather of reggae, Bob Marley.

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If you think you've got big shoes to fill, imagine how Ky-Mani feels.

Born to Bob and Jamaican table tennis star Anita Belnavis, Ky-Mani was raised in Jamaica before moving to Miami, Fla. when he was nine.

While Marley's other offspring may have enjoyed a bit more of a privileged upbringing than most, Ky-Mani, being born to a different mother than the others, did not experience the same luxury.

"Don't think I was raised with a silver spoon in my mouth - sometimes I didn't even have a wooden spoon in my mouth," said Ky-Mani on the phone from Hawaii. His different upbringing is documented in an autobiography titled Dear Dad, which was also the name of one of the first songs he ever wrote.

"If somebody asks 'How can you sing about struggle when your father is Bob Marley?' Well yes, my father is Bob Marley but I can also sing about struggle because I faced it first hand," said Ky-Mani.

And while his dad may have been one of the most popular artists in the world during his career, Ky-Mani's own venture into music didn't start right away. In fact, Ky-Mani said he was more into sports as a youth and almost by accident found himself in the music industry.

"I was never intending a musical career as a child. I was more into sports, but music was something that just gradually took over my life," he recalled. "I have a friend who has recording studio and we were playing around with the sound system and one of the producers there, he said that he liked my tone. So he said come to my studio every now and then and we can work on it."

From there Ky-Mani discovered a passion for creating that he never knew he had.

"It didn't dawn on me that this was my destiny until then," he said. "There's power in music and I'm going to try and spread that to the best of my ability."

Since then, Ky-Mani has released five studio albums and toured all over the world with his own blend of hip-hop/reggae and soft rock. When asked about using different styles of music or feeling obligated to use elements of reggae because of who his dad was, Ky-Mani shrugged off the notion of putting labels on sounds.

"Reggae is just one aspect of my music," he explained. "Hip-hop, soft rock - for me it's just stuff that I like. I love all different colourings of all different genres, so I employ it all. (I'm) not really concerned with labels, I just use what I like."

When asked about his thoughts on his father's impact on the music scene, and what that means for him, Ky-Mani -who was generally soft-spoken throughout the interview - delivered his response with sudden air of passion.

"It is absolutely unbelievable; words cannot describe. I can't really say what he's done, because for me he's still doing it," he said. "I'm not just saying this because he's my father - I'm saying this from a man's point of view. The work is still not over and he has not been here for many, many years.

"For me, it's something special to go out and see a five-year-old in a Bob Marley t-shirt reciting a song word for word from start to finish. There's something powerful there that goes generation after generation. I've never heard someone put a Bob tape on and refer to it as old time music. You can put it on today and it seems so relevant, so fresh."

As for his own music, Ky-Mani will be releasing a new album later this year titled New Heights. The title-song from the album was released as a single in March.

"To this day I still write from reality, from a realistic point of view, so my life is a part of my music," said Ky-Mani.

Ky-Mani Marley and Gramps Morgan play the Garibaldi Lift Company tonight (Thursday, July 7). The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and tickets are $25 for the first 100 sold, then $30.


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