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Interviews
The Rastafari Interview – Julian Marley

The Rastafari Interview – Julian Marley

Maliika Walker-Island Stage

Julian Marley- “One is born to praise the almighty.”

After a chance encounter with a fan at a roots reggae concert, Maliika Walker was left wondering if the audience was listening to the lyrics in roots reggae music. The fan commented she loved reggae music but did not understand why some artists spoke so much about some African monarch. Maliika then decided to dedicate some of her time researching Rastafari and presenting a series of articles and interviews on Rasta and Reggae music. She recently caught up with Julian Marley and asked him some questions about his way of life, Rastafari. This is the first interview/article in the Rasta and Reggae series.

Julian Marley was born in London in June of 1975, the only son of Bob Marley born in the U.K. A devout Rastafarian, he began to accept his way of life at the age 11 or 12. He also discovered his love for music at an early age, studying under Aston “Family Man’ Barrett, Earl “Wire” Lindo, Tyrone Downie, and Earl “Chinna’ Smith. Affectionately referred to as “JuJu Royal” by his family and close friends, Julian moved to Jamaica in 1993, age 17, to be closer to his family.

His debut album, Lion in the Morning, was released in 1996. Julian contributed musical elements to the Grammy winning album by Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. He also contributed to the production of the remix album of his father’s songs, ‘Chant Down Babylon’. His second album, A Time and Place, was released in 2003 followed by a world tour with his band The Uprising. His Grammy nominated album, Awake, was released in 2009.

Julian is currently working on his next album which will be released later this year on Ghetto Youths International/Universal Republic. He is featured on the recent Ghetto Youths album, Set Up Shop Volume 1, which was released on February 26, 2013. The song, titled ‘Move Dem’, also features Bugle.

Maliika-

Thank you, Julian for spending time speaking with me.

Do you remember what age you were when you started to believe Haile Sellasie I was the resurrected Jesus?

Julian-
From ever since I have common sense and consciousness of oneself, which was from an early age. Growing up with the culture and with Rastafari in my house you know. Example set by my father. From a certain age, maybe 11, 12. When I would read books and start repeating things. Even in the bible where it says, “King of Kings, Lord of Lords,
Conquering Lion in the tribe of Judah, thru the lineage of Solomon and David. Christ will come in a new name and when you check it out, Rastafari is this new name.

Maliika-
Rastafari is described as a way of life, not a religion. Why? Rasta’s believe Haile Selassie is the power of the trinity. Why is Rasta not a religion and why is it important that it not be defined as so?

Julian-
Because religion is something you organize and you know profits are made off of it and things. A way of life is something you are born with, one is born to praise the almighty. No matter where you are or who you are. We are all created by the almighty. It’s up to you to decide to praise the almighty or not. So for everyone (that chooses to
praise Jah) that becomes a way of life. In the Garden of Eden we were all Natty Dread. Because there was no comb, razor, or scissor. The name only defines this new name in this time. 2000 years since Christ come in a new name. So the new name is Rastafari. So Christianity move on to Rastafari, in that sense, if you can fathom that.

Maliika-
The movement toward the legalization of Marijuana is picking up steam. Two states in the United States have recently voted to legalize marijuana (Washington & Colorado). Medicinal marijuana is legal in 18 states in the U.S., including California and New Jersey, yet it is still illegal in Jamaica. Do you feel the legalization of marijuana can be enforced in Jamaica?

Julian-
Well I don’t know. It would be nice but you don’t know really. The main thing is that herb is a plant that was put here before mankind was put on earth. So how can you say something planted naturally like a fruit (is illegal). Who gave you that right? God never gave you that right. So man take the right. So for me it is like a fruit. So if God
put something here then I know I am supporting what God is supporting and someone is fighting what God’s doing. That’s how I look at it you know. It should be legal everywhere but that’s the way it go you know. We fight for the right.

Maliika-
Please explain what Rasta means to you and why do you put it into your music?

Julian-
Rasta means life, love, unity, togetherness. The reason we put it into the music is because there is so much division, so much segregation even in one set of people, much less different people, different cultures. Right now the struggles of life is because we are all on our own there is no else. But if there is love, there will be a way of coming true. There will never be a block. If you have people who love you we will survive but if you do not have people that love then you will suffer by yourself. That is the whole set up of Babylon. So we bring this unity to the music. Bring awareness. More consciousness really.

Maliika-
I understand the main mansions of Rastafari in Jamaica are Bobo Ashanti, Nyahbinghi, and the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Are you affiliated with any of the Rasta mansions? Why did you join that particular mansion or why did you not join one at all?

Julian-
My mansion is the one above all, the mansion of Rastafari. Nyabinghi is the original order still. Nyabinghi is the house above all houses, which is the first. So I don’t join any house. I am just central. God directly. Then you have brethren who reason. Have conversations and stuff like that but I do not belong to no one but God. That’s how it is.

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Maliika-
Zion vs. Babylon. Some people say we are all in Babylon while on earth because we are faced with so much wickedness and we will not see Zion until we leave earth physically. Our spirit will go to Zion. What do you think of this belief?

Julian-
So where is Zion, What is Earth. God put the earth here for man to live so we have to find it (Zion) here on earth. Because obviously Zion is already that perfect place. So we don’t really have to do any work. Zion is already built for the people on earth, you know the good people. We can’t wait for that time. We have to deal with Zion now, while we are here. Why would we face (Babylon) for a hundred years (on earth). Sixty years, one hundred years is a long time to deal with tribulation and struggle. A long time. Waiting and waiting an entire lifetime to see (Zion). No we have to see (Zion) now. While we are here.

Maliika-
While studying Rasta, I happen to come across the avoidance of perceived negative words, such as last or understand. Why is this an issue with the Rasta lifestyle? For instance you may find yourself last in line? When you are listening to someone are you not trying to understand them?

Julian-
It’s just so long that people have been under you know what I mean. Under the weather of Babylon, under the system. So you know like it’s just a word. Like if you say I, I say I and I which means I and you. Because I means we. We don’t segregate ourselves to say I is me and you is you. You have to fend for yourself. No. No it’s we, I and I. Overstand is more like in your mind you know you’re over. Instead of under. Maybe over gives you another way of thinking. You can think a little bit more over (instead of under).

Maliika-
I often wonder if the audience is really overstanding the message in the music of roots reggae. For instance let’s take “Forever Loving Jah” by your dad. I have always loved the song because to me it is saying that despite all of life’s tribulations and judgment, he will forever love Jah. I remember hearing the song come on in a club and a woman said she loved the song but did not understand your dad’s lyrics. Does it affect you if the audience just blatantly disregards the meaning in the lyrics or as long as you touch some people with your music that is all that matters?

Julian-
It matters that the people listen to the music a bit more thoroughly. With any music you listen to. When people listen to rap music today people may not understand slang so people have to research it because sometimes they do not know nothing about what you are talking about, but their is knowledge out there to show you, to bring you closer to what we are saying (in the music). So maybe there is a missing puzzle, one piece that makes people say Oh….First of all Forever Loving Jah is like proverbs from the Bible. So if you don’t really understand how the bible reads Psalms or Proverbs then you may not get the wisdom that’s coming over. You have to look between the lines to gain wisdom. It’s like a Bible. Forever Loving Jah is like a verse of the Bible or a chapter.

Maliika-
Loc’s have become more of a hairstyle these days than a cultural identity. I know some Rastas who have cut their loc’s and others who haven’t. Will you ever cut your loc’s? Do you believe in the following vow taken by the Nazarites, “All the days of his vow of separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locs of hair of his head grow long.”

Julian-
Yes and we don’t use the word CUT. What is there to doubt you know what I’m saying? Who don’t know, don’t know. That’s the whole thing. So we come with the knowledge to let them know. There’s no doubt because it’s reality to what we say and if there is a reality then I don’t need to doubt. Samson from the Bible is a Nazarite. Nazarite is the first name before Rasta to come upon earth. The Nazarite is a Rasta. Yeah Samson was with the first set of Nazarites. Which we are Nazarites also you know.

The continuation from Christ. Christ come in a new name. That just simply means he comes in a new name. He is not going to come as Christ this next time. Him say him going to come in a judgeful name, the Lion of Judah, thru the blood line of King Solomon and King David in the Bible. Which the only person on earth is King Selassie I, Rastafari
you know. That is fact and truth in all universities and colleges. So when you take up that truth it’s like hey – don’t tell me nothing. The loc’s grow and flourish right in front of your eyes and you know you feel good and proud. Yeah but we never cut it.

Maliika-
Your father’s music had a profound effect on people everywhere by introducing Rastafari, as well as reggae music, to the world. What comes to mind today as you travel the world delivering your own message to the people?

Julian-
Well what comes to mind is like the same thing. It’s 2013 but really it still comes like its still 1973. So the message is still needed and the thing is still growing just different sound yet same movement. We really living this thing again you know which is great because we have fighter spirits, our hearts are lion hearts. So were living but we still have to be doing the same thing our father did in those days but in these days, just in a different way. Everyday a new youth is born. Some people don’t hear the message but some do get the message. So it’s always a need for this music. So the struggle on earth is the same as back in those days you know. It’s just a little more advanced with the computer and laptop and likkle thing you know but the struggle is on.

Maliika-
Snoop Dogg recently changed his name to Snoop Lion and announced he is now a Rasta. Bunny Wailer recently threatened to take Snoop Lion to court for being a fraud and for not paying money to the Rastafari Council as they say they were promised. Do you have an opinion on this issue?

Julian-
No opinion. I leave everyone to their own movements.

Maliika-
I love your last album, Awake. What is next for Julian Marley? When can we expect to hear new music?

Julian-
Well we are currently working on some new songs now. We get some stuff ready now.You can look forward to something coming out very soon, later on in this year.

Maliika-
I hope you return to NYC soon to perform a solo show. You are missed by us in the NYC tri-state area.
Thank you for your time.

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Comments
  1. rita

    6 years ago

    A good interviewer gets eye-opening responses! Keep Shining Maliika.

  2. Maliika Walker

    6 years ago

    Thanks Rita!

  3. […] Read Julian Marley interview here […]

  4. Emarly

    6 years ago

    Nice one Maliika! Big up. really enjoyed d interview with Juju Royal. Rastafara is a way of life… conscious people.

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