Written By | Bianca Theodore
Ziggy Marley sees a rebellion on the horizon.
Per his last album Rebellion Rises, a new dawn is breaking a long night. Where other people see a dark midnight steeped in despair, he sees a brighter tomorrow colored by joy.
But Ziggy Marley is also done hoping for the sun to shine. He’s ready to do something; to part the clouds himself and actively bring the change he wants to see. On Rebellion Rises, he is unapologetically asking everyone to join him.
When the renowned musician says everyone, he means everyone. As a humanitarian, his loyalties lie with all of humanity, and the betterment of people’s lives globally. The album does not mince words on who that responsibility falls to and opens with the politically charged “Dem Fake Leaders.”
In our conversation below Marley also opened up about who else that responsibility falls to: all of mankind. Because according to him, the rebellion is not some march or social justice movement happening in the streets. The rebellion he speaks of happens in our hearts; the choice to love or to hate, to bring light or to spread darkness.
“We are not rebelling against,” the renowned musician said. “We are rebelling for the better side of humanity.”
This rebellion is not bigger than you; rather, you are the biggest part of the fight.
Read our exclusive interview to find out who Marley says is on the frontline, who shouldn’t be in power, and who will finish the fight. The multitalented musician also shares some big plans for his record label and new music ahead.
Bianca Theodore: Why did you decide to call the album Rebellion Risesand particularly why did you say rise in the present versus rising? Was that intentional?
Ziggy Marley: Yes. We call it Rebellion Rises because I just feel like there’s something going on. I want to encourage it, we want to encourage it, and be a part of inspiring the change that we need in the world. It’s going to take a rebellion from humanity. So yes.
BT: Some people would look at the state of our society and politics and say that we’re moving backwards instead of forwards, that they don’t see that rebellion. But you do. So, what is that rebellion that you speak of and when did you first see it?
ZM: Well we see it within ourselves first. And then they realize that sometimes the worst things happen for a reason. And it happens because it is like it’s trying to hold onto something that it can’t really hold onto. It’s even getting worse and worse, because it’s trying to hold on. So, the rebellion is there happening, but these forces are trying to hold on, because more people are waking up. For example, more women are being proactive and making a change. So that all has to do with the rebellion, rise up women, you know. So, you can see that you know, even in American politics: most women elected to Congress. So, this is a part of the rebellion. Little, little, little- it’s not bigger than you. You don’t even realize it sometimes. A lot of it is internal, with individuals. Not like a social movement, or the stereotypical rebellion that you see in the street. That is a part of it also, but the biggest part is the internal part.
BT: What is that internal part? What are they rebelling against or finding?
ZM: Yeah, we’re not rebelling against, we’re rebelling for the better side of humanity. It’s the better side of humanity inside of humanity that bring things together, that causes the world to be a better place. And it is inside of us. We can achieve anything we want to achieve. We are very intelligent, our species. If we want to do something, we can find a way to do it. But you know, it’s a lack of leadership. This is one of the biggest problems. But we can make the world better. We can’t make it worse. We can make it better. Either way.
BT: And so, another thing that you spoke of as well were political leaders. That was the [subject matter of] the first song on the album. Why did you feel that was important to start out with, to make that bold statement about fake leaders?
ZM: It’s time. Someone has to speak out and speak to the power. I want to be straightforward. If I want to be straightforward then it’s like ‘hey this is real, this is it.’ And it hurts me though. It hurts me. The reason why the world is in the state it’s in is because of people who are in powers of leadership that should not be in powers of leadership for humanity. Religious, political, all types of places. This is one of the problems. And so, the people have to wake up. The people have to wake up and realize, because look at the situation. Not only our individual situation but look upon the situation as a whole. Look at us a whole species of beings. Think of it practically. How many years we exist now on Earth? With all this leadership that’s existed on Earth, nobody can find a way to bring more love and peace and harmony to the planet? You mean that we can’t figure that out? Is that a joke? That’s like a joke. Because what are our leaders for? What are you leading, what are you doing for us as a whole? What’s your plan? I don’t hear anybody doing things for humanity. Everybody doing things for themselves; their own individual group, or religion, or country. Who’s doing something for humanity? Who’s leading humanity as a whole, which leader? There’s no leader of humanity. There’s political parties and religious denominations, but no leaders for humanity. That’s one of the issues. People have to wake up really.
BT: Speaking of humanity, you are definitely a humanitarian. Where do you hope to see our global society in the future? Since we’re not just speaking of this country or a certain group of people, but the entire humanity.
ZM: Sometimes I feel positive, sometimes I feel really bad. There’s hope for humanity. We can be very negative amongst each other, unnecessarily, without cause. It’s very interesting you know to see? There’s a wall. Everybody has a wall around them, in a way. Everybody feels that they want to protect themselves, no doubt about that. But there are good days. On the good days I’m very positive. And the good days are the real thing. We can do anything as humans, we can achieve what we want to achieve. So, what do we want to achieve as a whole? Yes, we want economic prosperity, so everybody doesn’t have to suffer economically and materially. But there’s also a balance with that spiritually: love and togetherness. So, there’s a balance, and it’s out of balance right now.
BT: With this album were you hoping to inspire people to get that balance back to where it needs to be?
ZM: Yeah, I don’t think we’re hoping to do it. I think we’re just saying that we’re doing it. It’s not like we’re hoping to. Because we put it out there in the atmosphere. So, it’s out there right now in the atmosphere floating around and it will catch some people; some will miss it. But it will catch some people. So it’s like rebellion rises: we’re just simply doing this, we’re not saying we’re hoping to do it.
BT: Yeah, it’s very definitive, very unapologetic.
ZM: Yeah, we’re finished hoping. We are doing now. That is a part of the rebellion.
BT: It’s the action.
BT: And so what action did you want people to take once they finished listening to the album?
ZM: Well it depends. The biggest thing is that people can love each other. That’s really the biggest thing, and I don’t mean it in a hokey dokey pokey way. Everyone is not gonna love each other, we’re not gonna live in some kind of fantasy or paradise here [where] everything is hunkey dorey all the time. But we’re talking about balance, we’re talking about re-balancing to the love energy. We’ll be more focused on that. The world needs to assist these leaders and all these people to stop shoving this negative crap every day on our lives. They’re feeding us negativity. That’s all them feeding us really. We see in the world negativity all the time; this is what makes news, even musically sometimes. They’re just pushing negative energy, but we have to push the positive energy, and the “doing it” attitude instead of the “hoping it” attitude.
BT: The album cover also features your son, as does a song. Is that symbolic of the new generation bringing change?
ZM: Yeah man, look at it that way. It means many things, because it’s art. So, art can mean one thing to me and the next thing to you. Whatever you see, that is what it is. In terms of what the idea is for me, that the naked boy is all of humanity. That kid is all of us. All of us came into the Earth that way: our nakedness. We weren’t idealized. We weren’t made by ideology. All of us come in the same way, with that same free mind. And that represents that nakedness of humanity that we need to go towards, so we can open up ourselves to each other, instead of closing off from each other. So that’s what the nakedness really represents, and it’s the next generation too.
BT: What is the new generation’s place in the rebellion that we’re doing, not hoping for?
ZM: Well them is the finishing touch. We started it and they’re going to finish it, and get it done.
BT: Speaking of the new generation, you also wrote a children’s book. How did that come about and why was it important for you to do that?
ZM: It comes from my son, and it’s just something I feel. If I think about it, I would say to myself that we have to have some way to do something for the children specifically. So, I wanted to make a children’s album and write a children’s book, because we wanted to talk to them specifically in that way. Because the message is for everyone.
BT: What did you want to say to the children?
ZM: I love you. Just love. It’s not complicated stuff.
BT: So, your record label does a lot of different things; for example, a children’s album and children’s book as you said. Where do you hope to take the record label?
ZM: The idea is that if we can get to reach more people the better it is for us, and for the idea that we want to push forward. The inspiration that we want to be a part of. So, I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s not just about music anymore though, it’s about everything: social media, using whatever tools we have in this new time to further what we have to say, and our reach. So, we’ll see what happens.
BT: What is the ultimate dream for the future? It is making sure that everyone hears that message?
ZM: Yes. That would be a good thing.
BT: Lastly, what’s in the works for you music wise? Is there anything that fans can look forward to?
ZM: All that’s happening right now is that ideas are popping into my mind and I’m putting ideas into my phone, that I will later listen back on and flesh out some songs. So, I’m always having ideas, melodies, and lyrics. There’s like pieces of things that are coming right now and then later I go back and check and see if I can make a whole picture.