Hymn stays true to Marley roots

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

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Rita Marley's Cuban roots served as inspiration for You Don't Even Love Me, a song by her grandson Hymn Marley.

Born in Jamaica but now residing in Florida, he is the son of Stephen Marley and grandson of reggae king Bob Marley. The song will be released on August 2. It is part of a five-track EP titled In My Head, to be released later this year.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer from his Florida base, Hymn said the song was originally written and recorded on a one-drop rhythm, but a visit to his grandmother's house changed the project's trajectory.

“I was in the house one day and saw a picture of an old man and woman that I had never seen before. The old man, I kinda recognised his features as some of them were similar to mine, but this was a very old picture. She explained to me that this was my Cuban great-grandfather... her father and his mother. My grandmother Rita Marley, was born in Cuba so we started speaking about Cuba for a while. I then decided to put You Don't Even Love Me on a reggaeton beat as homage to my lineage outside of Jamaica,” he said.

The track also features his brother Johann. Hymn said he initially approached his father about getting some Spanish acts on the song, but it eventually became a family affair.

“I wasn't in the room when they recorded it, but once I heard it, it was a no-brainer. So, instead of me reaching out to the Spanish acts, once I heard Johann's verse I knew he belonged on the record,” he said.

“All of the songs on the EP are connected. I write stories. A lot of times it's not even my own story, I take inspiration from anything and everything. So this story is a part of the theme of being in my head. The first single Bad Without You was released two years ago so this song specifically, when it was written was to be an answer and response to that first single. All of the songs on the EP reflect truthful events whether mine or not,” he continued.

Originally a writer and poet, Hymn said he slowly ventured into the music business. He said his father discouraged him from music so he would not feel pressured to maintain the family name and tradition.

Hymn admits being a Marley is a double-edged sword.

“The assumption is generally that it makes it easier because of the Marley name and heritage. But like my grandfather says, 'All that glitters isn't gold', and I think that it's easier to think it's a smooth ride. My Dad didn't sit down and push music on any of us, he actually did the opposite. For a long time, he made us feel like we're on a raft in the water alone, but made sure we could swim and had the desire to reach the shore. So having the last name gets you the interest, but that doesn't secure the place,” he explained. “It's really about what you are bringing to the table. That said, I don't feel pressured in any way to live up to the legacy of my grandfather or father. I will never be able to walk in the shoes that Bob Marley walked in or those of my father, but I can always look at their path and understand that I have my own path to walk.”


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