Forty-two years on, Bob Marley and The Wailers still uniting Africa
“Forget your worries, forget your sorrows,” Skip Marley’s sharp vocals pierce through your ears as you listen. “Dem Belly Full,” a lead track from the just-released posthumous Bob Marley album, Africa Unite, is spinning with the same zest with the original 1974 record. Bob Marley and The Wailers seem to resurrect in the halo of Skip Marley’s and Rema’s guest verses on the remake. And, ultimately, across all 10 tracks in the album.
Celebrating the rich legacy of Robert Nesta Marley, who thrived as Bob Marley, the Jamaican Reggae monarch – up until his death in 1981 – the Africa Unite album is a stellar tribute of the pan-African sentimentalist and activist. The Bob Marley Estate tapped African mavericks Tiwa Savage, Sarkodie, Teni, Oxlade, and Skip Marley, to curate an enjoyable spin of legendary Bob Marley songs that still speak to the common realities in Africa.
From the heartwarming rendition of “Waiting In Vain” to the uplifting energy of “Stir It Up,” the album showcases the seamless fusion of two extraordinary musical worlds, Afrobeats and Reggae. With Africa Unite, Bob Marley’s influence continues to resonate, bridging the gap between the past and present. The album not only showcases the global reach of Bob Marley’s music but also celebrates the rich tapestry of African rhythms and melodies.
As the Marlian heritage continues to find breath in the rhythms and realities of today, we sit down with a direct heir and collaborator on the Africa Unite album, Skip Marley, on today’s Guardian Music. Skip, who has also frequently collaborated with Afrobeats stars including Oxlade and Davido, dissects the rich celebration of heritage, as well as the activism that continues to charge the Reggae dynasty of Bob Marley, among other interesting insights surrounding this riveting record.
How are you, Skip, how is it going?
All good, my brother.
This is a very iconic project for you and your family. What is the feeling like?
We are feeling great, you know. And we are feeling very blessed and we are feeling loved. You know, it’s all about go get that dream of Africa Unite, turning it into a reality, you know what I mean, especially in this time, to reconnect the message and purpose of Africa with such great musicians and such great artists. You know what I mean, give it a new flame; but the message and root is still the same.
One collaboration on that project stands out, Them Belly Full. Walk us through the creative process behind that song.
The only creative process I witnessed is really just my part. I didn’t see Rema before it dropped. I didn’t really have any part in the production of that song. I heard the Rema verse and then I laid down my verse after that. But Rema and I have never met or gone into a studio yet.
So, what do you perceive as the value of the type of collaborations on this project?
I feel like all of them are on a purpose and mission. I feel like every artist did their part in doing the original sound well.
So, which of them were your favorites?
Ayra Starr, “Jamming”, the one with Stonebwoy and Tiwa Savage. You know the spiritualist and ancestry of the whole African Unite, feel like they come to fruition.
Everyone did well. I love what Rema did on the track, alongside myself.
How exposed are you to Afrobeats music?
I have been consuming Afrobeats from a very early stage. And I kind of invested in it, you know what I mean. With Afrobeats, me listen to from years back to even the time of Burna, Wizkid, Davido, Tiwa Savage, Asake. I listen to a lot of them.
Which of them have you thought about working with on a song?
I have thought about working with all of them. Me and Stonebwoy did link up and we have some music coming as well.
Have you ever visited Africa before?
Yeah. I went to Ethiopia in 2005. There was the Bob Marley 60th Anniversary Concert…irst African country me ever come to, in Ababa.
Do you have any other countries or cities you are interested in exploring?
Yeah. Nigeria, Ghana, Libya. I am interested in a lot of places, you know. I am bringing music to these places.
Reggae music has a very rich history, even much older than Afrobeats. At this point in time, why do you think it’s important to create a fusion of the two genres?
No competition. Remember, there’s no one without the other one. There’s no competition. It’s like all of them are the same, you know what I mean. Without Africa, there is no Reggae music, and without Reggae music, there is no Afrobeats, and without dancers, there’s no Afrobeats. You know what I mean. So, the bridge is always there, as much as the close gap. We have unity in music, and we need unity throughout the place, not only music.
Is there any project or an album that we would look forward to from Skip Marley?
We have a lot of music coming. We have a lot of music for the people. So, everyone just has to stay tuned, keep track on the socials at Skip Marley. You’ll see. It’ll be released very soon.
If your grandfather were to be alive and he listened to the project, how do you think he would feel about it?
I think he would love it and support it. I know if there’s anything, he would put me on the right direction.
What do you envision for this album?
Unification of mankind. People call it a dream, but to me, it’s a reality. So, that is really the message. And you know, to the people of Nigeria, we love you and would soon come. We are bringing reggae music, we are bringing afro music, we are bringing jam music, straight to you and to the whole of Africa. That’s what I feel.