Ziggy Marley believes reggae will never be what it was in his father’s day, but he’s doing his best to keep the genre’s spirit alive. He’s also doing cartoon voices for his Marijuanaman comic, has his smiling mug on a line of food products and is releasing a live record from his latest extensive tour. And it’s nothing if not wild and free.
“The Wild and Free Tour, where we were at musically at the last shows, I wanted to document it,” Marley says of Ziggy Marley in Concert, which was recorded during the nearly year-long world tour for 2011’s Wild and Free. “All the time touring we just keep getting better in my opinion. There is still room to get better but the music live, we’re emphasizing a spirituality in the music, an improvisation and jamming — feeling good with the music and that continual process. Musically, it’s a good place.”
The live record, on Marley’s own Tuff Gong Worldwide label, is set for digital release on iTunes Dec. 18 and worldwide Jan. 15. With four studio albums and now three live records, the five-time Grammy winner also has a hand — and voice — in several other projects. But music is still his key focus and if anything, his other pursuits add to the overall message in the tunes, particularly when he is reminded of the power of reggae in his father’s day, like when he interviewed Jimmy Cliff on his show Legends of Reggae on Sirius XM’s The Joint a few months ago.
“When you look at his and my father’s generation, that whole generation, when reggae music was something new for the rest of the world, it will not compete ever again in history. It’s been done,” Marleysays.
When asked if he can recommend any up-and-coming reggae artists, Marleysimply says no. According to his assessment of the spirit and message that defines the genre, the best of it lies behind us.
“I’ve spoken to some of the other elders of the music. There is a spirituality over the generation, a magic within it that’s not captured today,” he says. “That’s how I look at it. I’m trying to capture that thing in my music. I can be innovative, adventurous, that spirit I will try to always capture. But the root of it, that magic or that spirit, it’s a little missing in the next generation. Good music is still coming out, but if we could get back that it would be much better.”