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Rise of a new generation - Skip Marley's historic highlight could make new inroads for reggae

Published:Friday | February 24, 2017 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Marley brothers (from left) Stephen, Ky-Mani, Jr Gong and Julian in performance at the recent Redemption Live concert.
Katy Perry (right) and Skip Marley perform 'Chained to the Rhythm' at the 59th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 12, 2017, in Los Angeles.

It may be hard to believe that it took the Marley's three generations to achieve a top 10 hit on the US, Billboard Hot 100 charts, but that's the reality. Bob Marley's grandson, Skip Marley, made history earlier this week when his collaboration with pop superstar Katy Perry on, Chained to the Rhythm, peaked at number four on the chart, earning him a flood of media attention as the first from the family of reggae icons to achieve a place in the chart's top 10.

According to an article from Billboard, reggae legend Bob Marley only had one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. His track Roots, Rock, Reggae, peaked at number 51. His son, Ziggy Marley had a song in the top 40 and his brother, Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley reached number 55 in 2005 with his hit, Welcome to Jamrock. Though the young Marley's achievements are historic, some believe that the third generation Marley could not have accomplished the feat without pop superstar, Katy Perry and her huge fan base. While this is the young Marley's first top 10 placing on the much-talked about chart, it is Perry's 14th.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, music industry insider Collin Hines, explained that while Marley may have earned a spot on the chart through association, his achievements should not be frowned upon.

"The record is a pop mainstream record and she (Katy Perry) is currently one of the biggest pop artistes in the world. It is her record and so he benefits by association. She has millions of followers and the song was geared towards that huge market," he said. "All that doesn't mean the young man doesn't have talent and star power of his own. If he didn't have talent or appeal, he wouldn't have caught Perry's attention in the first place. His fresh talent coupled with the fact that he sports his grandfather's name, could only spell good for him. You have to be happy for the kid, he is a part of the record, so it doesn't matter if he got there by association."




With that said, Hines explained that entertainers who wish to have a successful international career have always used 'big acts' such as Perry, to help them tap into that market.

"The doors have always been opened, Sean Paul walked through them twice last year. Both of his records; the collab with Sia and the collab with Clean Bandit, were huge pop records and were number one hits," he said, explaining that it should be the objective of every artiste to use these international acts, particularly the pop superstars, to create a market for themselves.

"The pop market has always been open and that's an area that all artistes should try to venture into. Any artiste from Jamaica who are crafty enough, should try to peg around one of these international acts and try to get a hit of their own. Make the right connections with the right people."

Jerome Hamilton, head of Headline Entertainment agreed.

"For the past three or four years, almost all of her (Perry's) songs have gone to the top 10, so her being on the record played a major part (in Skip's historic achievement), but we must realise that this youngster is talented. He has a great energy to him and a great team," he said. "He has a lot of the components to make him successful and I'm expecting him to be very successful. Who knows, he may go as far as being the most successful Marley after Bob."




Both Hines and Hamilton went on to say that they are big supporters of the evolution of music, pointing out that artistes should not be afraid to step out of their comfort zones and embrace change. Using Skip Marley as an example, the industry professionals explained that the young Marley's music may not be the kind of sound people expect to hear from a Marley but explains that it works for this day and age.

"Skip is a third generation Marley, it's 2017, you do not expect him in this dispensation to come and sing, 'play I some music, Mr reggae music', he has to be a part of the music that is in keep with time," said Hines. "We cannot expect Skip to sound like his grandfather; he has to make music of now. He is young and he's making music to keep in touch with his generation. This is a part of the natural evolution of music," Hamilton agreed. "He (Skip) has not confined himself to just reggae, neither is he trying to make himself a replica of what we had before. He has a fresh sound and he will complement well the Marley's that are out there already," he explained. "I don't think you have to sound like Bob to get far. He has a very unique sound and he looks good as an artiste. Even before Katy Perry, he stood out and I think we are seeing the burst of possibly the next big reggae star."