Julian Marley – As I Am Interview
“To be merciful and forgiving is his promise, so, never deny his guarantee.
His love for us is broader than the universe, and as a father, he don’t show partiality
So, who am I but to exalt his name.” Papa- Julian Marley
Julian Marley will be releasing his fourth studio album on January 25th titled As I Am. Fans can pre-order the album now and receive three songs immediately including the first single, Straighter Roads. Fans have been anxiously anticipating a new release since his Grammy-nominated third album, Awake, was released a decade ago. As I Am features 17 tracks and features collaborations with Beenie Man, Shaggy, and Spragga Benz to name a few. As I Am takes you on a journey covering spiritual, love, and inspiration. Some of the album’s producers include his brothers, Stephen and Damian Marley. Julian Marley shared some thoughts on the new album.
“Each song is an expression from within, each song represents who I Am. I was inspired by God, life, love, family, people and social issues we live in today and from ever since.” – Julian Marley
Julian wrote all the songs on As I Am and produced or co-produced all but two tracks.
Maliika Walker recently had the opportunity to speak with Julian Marley about his new album, and his JuJu Royal cannabis products. Here is their conversation.
Maliika Walker: I love the span of topics on the album. I love the growth that I see from album to album, so I’m excited just to get started and dive in. Now, I love the first single, Straighter Roads. We are living in a time that’s interesting in the US, with our leadership, and with some of the policy changes that we’ve seen, and things are going on at the border.
When you hear a lyrics like “Straighter Roads are up ahead,” It inspires. I wanted you to talk a little bit about the message of this particular song and your inspiration for writing the lyrics.
Julian Marley: Well, you know, the message says, “Straighter roads up ahead” is upliftment and it’s all about encouraging the people to keep positive. This song is geared towards everyone. You don’t have to be going through anything heavy, but sometimes you go through things and all of a sudden you need to hear a positive message, even for a minute. So Straighter Roads, is like, freedom of the mind, no stop lights on red. It’s speaking exactly what we’re living in, the time we’re living in now.
Maliika Walker: Which producers did you work with on this album?
Julian Marley: Well, Straighter Roads, first of all, I worked with a producer called AG Zilla from the UK, and he’s also a good friend of mine, so he kind of put that rhythm together, and we came up with that beautiful song. Also, I worked with my brothers, Stephen and Damian. We usually work together on our music. And then most of the production is like just me and the musicians, The Uprising Band, which included Aston Barrett Jr. (Aston “Family Man” Barrett’s song), who played bass and keyboards on a few tracks, including Straighter Roads.
We also worked with Riff Raff, who is a producer and plays keyboards for my brother Stephen.
Maliika Walker: I love your features on the album and especially the song, Too Hot To Dance with Shaggy. Did you guys work on that together or was that something where you laid your track, and then he laid his vocals?
Julian Marley: Yeah, I put that track together before even thinking about a feature. So originally I wrote the song, the rhythm was there, and thought, you know? It would be nice to have a feature, and then you don’t even need to spin the dial to find out who you want for that track. It calls for a certain voice and certain energy, and Shaggy was the artist for that song. Yeah, natural, everything was natural. It’s got the vibrations, so yeah, we needed Shaggy on that one.
Maliika Walker: Yeah, I like the vibrations.
Julian Marley: We met a couple of times, so it was easy to reach out to him.
Maliika Walker: You also include the remake of The Wailers, What’s New Pussycat. What was your approach to creating your version of the song?
Julian Marley: Yes, I am also a fan of ska music. Tom Jones was the original artist for the song before The Wailers remade it. But the way it is, The Wailers remade the song in their early ska days with Studio One, so I always included it on my playlist. I always play a lot of different classics, so I was listening to the ska era, and that song was playing. I was like, you know what? I just like the energy of this song. There’s something about it, even the vocals on it, but it’s life. When you hear it, it’s just life and joy. I said you know what? The world needs some more of these colors, these musical colors, the joy and even if it’s not a very deep message, it’s still an uplifting message that only brings love.
Maliika Walker: Uplifting and light, everything doesn’t have to be very deep.
Julian Marley: Yeah, yeah. And even in the light, you are still very deep.
Maliika Walker: Absolutely.
Julian Marley: Yeah, as we say, the album is called, As I Am, and that’s just exactly as I am and the feeling that we love, what kind of music we love, and the inspiration that’s coming from me, and the musicians, and everyone that put their hard work into the album.
Maliika Walker: War Zone is a song I wanted you to give your thoughts on. I was drawn to think about the position we’re putting soldiers in when we send them off to war.
Julian Marley: Yeah, and the reasons…That’s my biggest question, why? Then we get the real answer but does the reason make sense? It doesn’t add up. And if everyone says we’re following the laws of God, everyone’s claiming, “Yes, we are a Godly people.” Well, God said, “Don’t war, don’t kill.” So how are we so godly, and so good, and claim to be so right when we cannot uphold the laws of life. So, War Zone, is we’re saying we’re tired of the war zone, and the people must come together and let these heads know that run the world that we’re tired of this war zone now. No matter which country we live in. What’s the benefit? There is none really, only material greed again. So, that’s the only thing we’re used to the war zone benefits. It’s money in people’s pockets. Yeah, so it’s a statement, and it’s a protest against the war zone.
Maliika Walker: I know that you have your herbal brand, JuJu Royal. The brand won two awards at the 4th Annual Best of Edibles Awards (Best Colorado Edible & Best Olive Oil). How is your brand doing, and especially with the expansion of legalization in the US?
Julian Marley: Well, JuJu Royal is me, my name, so all the product are as I am, my kind of strain, what I like, what I love. I will be doing some more promotion in Los Angeles coming up soon on JuJu Royal. My stuff is organic, natural and oils; we have olive oil which you can cook your vegetables, saute, or whatever. So, it’s coming up good so far. It’s a long road, and obviously, this is still the beginning of the road since legalization has recently started to expand in the U.S. So it’s the beginning of the road, and it is good to be on the road even at the beginning when some people have to jump on when it’s rolling and stuff like that. We have been advocating the benefits of this natural plant as a people, as Rasta people for so many years; You know what I mean? We have been teaching the people the benefits of this herb that it’s medical; it’s this, it’s that. It’s a great thing to be a part of it, at this time. And yeah, we can look forward to new stuff coming up on the Juju Royal Brand. We just updated new packaging, so it’s supposed to have another sparkle to it. Yeah man, it’s good, it’s great stuff happening right now. All my products are available in states where medical/recreational marijuana is legalized.
Maliika Walker: Papa is one of my favorites for the album. I love the lyrics and the message.
Julian Marley: All right, well Papa is another way of saying God, saying Father, so finding a unique way to call your Father, the Almighty. So we say Papa made way for us, he’s been guiding us, you know? So it’s an uplifting tune, and it’s a tune where if you feel a little bit down you put on that song, you will be re-energized spiritually, dancing. So it’s an upbeat song, and Papa is how we can say Papa is meaning God and it’s a natural mystic kind of song, even the way we put it together.
Maliika Walker: I felt an upliftment from it while I was playing it. Is there anything else you would like fans to know about the new album, As I Am.
Julian Marley: Yeah, thanks. This album has generated in this time that we’re living in; this album will make you forget the stress of the day. You put on this album you’ll feel like you’ll be in Jamaica or you’ll feel like you’ll be under the sun. This album is geared up for pure, uplifting, and inspirational kind of vibes. That’s what this album will give to the listeners, the fans, our friends, our families. And as I say, it’s a live album, live music, so everything is live, just like you open your door, you go outside, you feel the breeze, you hear the birds, it’s life. So yeah, it’s that fully organic album like the JuJu Royal products.
Maliika Walker: Can you share any details about the upcoming tour in support of the album.
Julian Marley: Well I’m putting stuff together at the moment. So we are meditating February, March. I’ll have to get back to you with the dates to share with everyone.
Maliika Walker: Thank you for your time.
Julian Marley: Yeah, thank you too.