Reggae's Adventurous Traveler
Talking with Ky-Mani Marley
June 08, 2006
I recently had the opportunity to speak with reggae musician Ky-Mani (pronounced key-mani) Marley—yes, one of Bob's sons—by phone. At home in Miami, surrounded by his family and friends, he sounded loose and relaxed. As children audibly played in the background, Marley spoke of music, travel, brotherhood, some of the downfalls of being the son of a musical and political savior, and his firm belief that he could whoop me in table tennis.
MAUI TIME WEEKLY: You were playing football (soccer) yesterday when I called. Who's your World Cup team?
KYMANI MARLEY: Hahaha! Brazil, man. Yeah.
Ronaldinho's tough. Are they gonna win?
Brazil, yeah, might be some surprises though.
What about the U.S.? No hometown love?
Of course, got to carry da boys in blue!
Do you live in Miami year-round?
Basically year-round in Miami, yeah. I'm on the road a lot, though.
What about Jamaica? Do you visit often?
Yeah, visit Jamaica. Usually very often. Two weekends out of da month.
Are you treated well when you go home? (Ky-Mani moved to the U.S. at age nine, and I wondered if the infamous attempt on his father's life influenced his feelings about Jamaica)
Oh, definitely. Very well, always.
Your name means "Adventurous Traveler." Have you visited Maui before?
Yeah, hahaha! East African name. Sometimes a name carries a vibration, and I feel as though I am an adventurous traveler. I'm always looking forward to coming. Yeah, been there before.
What sorts of adventures are you looking forward to here?
Musical adventure, hahaha! Yeah, musical adventure this time!
You were nominated for a Grammy ("Best Reggae album" for 2002's Many More Roads). Did you attend the ceremony?
No, I didn't attend. I think at the time I was in England.
How did you feel about Damian's winning? (Brother Damian Marley won the Grammy for his album, Halfway Tree). Are you and your brothers competitive?
Competitive? Why would we be competitive? No man, that's me! My brother's music, that's my life!
I work at a hotel, and get asked pretty strange questions every day. What's the dumbest question you regularly get asked?
Dumbest question, hmm… Been asked so many! Wow! Probably "Do you listen to your father's music?"
People ask you that?
Yeah, man. Last weekend I was doing a radio show and they asked me, "Are you inspired by your father's music?"
Incredible. I'd like to mention some words or phrases, and have you tell me the first word or sentence that comes to mind.
Brings hope, an opportunity, nahwhatahmean? I believe that even if you don't win, it creates opportunities. I don't get to watch it much, but I like it!
Do you watch much television in general?
A little. I mostly watch the History Channel, Discovery Channel, not that HBO.
Back to the word association, what about Table Tennis? (Ky-Mani's mother was a champion table tennis player in Jamaica).
What's that? You love?
You asked for the first thing that comes to mind? Anita! My mother! She was a champion table tennis player!
Do you play recreationally?
Are you any good?
Oh yeah, man!
Now you're getting competitive! Maybe we can find a table when you get here.
Let's do it! I'm a bad boy, naturally!
Okay, then. What about pakalolo?
Pakalolo? I've never heard of it.
It's the local Hawaiian term for ganja.
Oh, wow, pakalolo! Meditation! Meditation!
So what should we expect from your upcoming show?
Some hard stuff, some soft…
A little hip-hop?
Yeah, that too!
Besides reggae and hip-hop, what are your biggest influences?
Reggae da main influence, but everything. Like rock, jazz…
What's the one song people would be surprised you like?
All right… from a kid, I used to listen to Guns n' Roses, Bon Jovi [he begins singing, "I'm a cowboy… yeah!"], "Love In An Elevator," "Janie's Got A Gun" [both by Aerosmith], Eric Clapton.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. Have a great time on Maui and I'll be looking forward to our table tennis battle.
Blessed Love, I. MTW
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