Ragga Talks Roots, Fruits, and Revelation With The Reggae Girl About Town
The master producer, musician, and vocalist known to his brethrens as “Ragga” is a man of few words who normally lets his music do the talking. In this exclusive chat, live and direct from his Lion’s Den studio in south Florida, Stephen Marley reflects on his next musical creation, and the legacy he lives each and every day. Interview After The Jump…
Reshma B: You are in the process of releasing your long-awaited album Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life. Part I was very much about life teachings, trials and tribulations, and Rastafari. What we’ve heard from Part II so far seems to have a bit more love and romance. Is it all about the girls?
Stephen: [Laughs] Well, I guess what you heard is very much about the girls. But today you heard a song called “Babylon,” and yesterday you hear a song called “Bongo Nyah” right? Me have several songs that is not about the girls, but we love to sing love songs so I guess that’s why you hear songs about the girls. But I don’t think that depicts the Fruits. When my father made Kaya a lot of people thought it was a love album and him never think it was a love album. But he had love songs on it, you know,
so I guess people decide for themselves.
It would be nice for girls to think that men would make an album about them. Anyway, the track “Bongo Nyah” features you and your brother Damian along with Spragga Benz. You have produced a lot of stuff with Damian. I know he’s family but there also seems to be a natural chemistry between you two.
Yeah we do have that natural chemistry but that’s just from growing together and being around each other for so long.
Who apart from your father has been an influence on your work?
Wow! I mean, Nina Simone… I am a fan of music so anything influences me. Duke Ellington said “If it sounds good it’s good.” So, you know, everything influences me. Sam Cooke. You have so many. Toots and the Maytals, Burning Spear, Fela Kuti. Me go right around the world you know what I mean?
When you’re making music there’s influences but there’s also inspiration. What kind of inspirations do you get when you’re sitting here in the studio?
We’re inspired by life in general and what’s going on in the world right now. When I sit in the studio I’m physically in the studio but my mind travels to all these different places that the music takes you to. This song sounds like this and I have to go there within myself to come out with pure emotions and all of these things that help to make a song great. So even though I’m here I still travel in my head.
I’m sitting next next to all those Grammy awards and it’s obvious you are more than just an artist. What makes a good producer?
Hmmm… that’s a good question. For me I was a privileged child. I came up amongst the best musicians so having that experience helped me be a good producer. What I took from that, first of all, was dedication. So when you see the dedication that the elders had, you know it’s an art and you have to keep at it. My father used to rehearse before the studio. He wouldn’t just come to the studio and record. He would rehearse for weeks and then go record. And I use to wonder why him go rehearse? But that’s what makes it great. That dedication, that time you put into it.
What’s the relationship between producer and artist?
Well from my aspect, producer is the title that they give it. I come in here and I make music. It’s different every time. You have some artist who just come in and the beat is on and they write some bars. You have other artists like Damian who is very
hands-on with him thing. So it varies.
Who are you?
Who am I? The General.
Tell me about the song that was playing when I walked in, “So Strong.” That sounds like it came from personal experience.
What you mean?
The lyrics—where do they come from?
Come from my heart. We live a rebel life. This is where I live. I have many children, many women. I don’t live with a woman you know. We live like lions so sometimes like we say, “I might not tell her as often as I ought to… But I love you baby.” She can play the song as often she wants and know that I’m speaking to her.
So for all the girls out there they should have some trust in their men?
Of course. Should have love. LOVE for your man. You know what I mean? Love. Yeah.
Ragga Marley, Jr. Gong, Spragga Benz & Cham “Jam Army Live Pon Di Cruise
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