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Stephen Marley

Stephen Marley is reggae royalty, both as the second son of Bob and Rita Marley, and with a voice of his own that continues the rootsy songwriting power of his bloodline. He played a somewhat behind the scenes role in music for many years, acting as a part of the Melody Makers and as a producer for other artists before releasing his first solo album, 2007's Mind Control. Marley's solo efforts kept a baseline of traditional roots reggae, but also incorporated elements of hip hop and dancehall, and he brought in contributions from rock and jam band legends Jack Johnson and the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir on the 2023 album Old Soul. Stephen Marley was born in 1972, and first appeared on record when he was only six years old. With his brother Ziggy, the young Stephen recorded the single "Children Playing in the Streets," a charity single with the profits going to the United Nations to aid its efforts during the International Year of the Child. The single would also mark the beginnings of the Ziggy-fronted Melody Makers, a band that included Stephen's other siblings. Stephen played a supportive role in the Melody Makers from the beginning as guitarist, singer, and occasional songwriter. To satisfy his creative interests outside the group, Stephen decided to become familiar with the music industry from behind the scenes. Production work began in 1996 with Stephen contributing ideas to albums by his brothers Damian and Julian. Remixing the Fugees the same year was the first public display of Stephen's love of hip-hop and R&B. Work with Eve, Krayzie Bone, and Erykah Badu would follow along with a new role as "executive producer" of the Bob Marley remix compilation Chant Down Babylon, released in 1999. The album drew criticism from reggae purists who thought Stephen's mixing of hip-hop and his father's music was blasphemy, but the album's success encouraged the young producer. In 2001, his production work for brother Damian's Halfway Tree helped win the Grammy for Best Reggae Album, while Stephen's version of "Master Blaster" landed on the Stevie Wonder tribute Conception the same year. Work began on a debut solo album, but the 2002 formation of production house/promotion firm Ghetto Youths International with brother Ziggy kept Stephen from finishing it. Work on brother Damian's successful 2005 album Welcome to Jamrock pushed his debut all the way back to 2007. It was March of that year when Mind Control finally landed. An acoustic version of the album, simply titled Mind Control Acoustic, was distributed exclusively online in 2008 with the physical CD following in 2009. In late 2010, the “Jah Army” single announced the coming of his album Revelation, Pt. 1: The Root of Life, his roots-oriented 2011 release. Revelation, Pt. 2: The Fruit of Life followed in 2016 as a more electric and hip-hop-oriented release. The album featured guests like Rick Ross, Waka Flocka, Wyclef, and Rakim. Marley's fifth solo album, Old Soul, materialized in 2023, born in part from nightly jam sessions held during the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns. The album leaned in a more acoustic direction than earlier efforts, and along with contributions from Buju Banton and Ziggy Marley, Old Soul also featured songs made in collaboration with Eric Clapton and Slightly Stoopid, and had a mellow closing track that featured both Jack Johnson and Bob Weir.
© David Jeffries /TiVo


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