“[I want] to inspire people to do, whatever they want to do regardless of social norms or status. We all have to break through something, so hopefully we can fight together!” –Zuri Marley.
At twenty-one, you are trying to maneuver your way through life, getting a gist of what you want, what you can’t stand and what you want to achieve in the future. Most times you are an average Jane, one of a couple billion people, just making a name for yourself with your relationships, talents and career. For others, their ancestry chose a different path for them as the recognition of their family and relatives mark them for life. This stands true for beauty Zuri Marley. Musician, Actress, Student and overall Creative mastermind.
“Everything I do is different. When I present my music to people, they’re going to mention my lineage. But they’re also going to see something that’s very specific to me.” – Zuri Marley in an interview with Nylon.
As soon as you hear the last name, you know that she is by some shape or form related to the musical reggae legend Bob Marley, be it a granddaughter, or wife, the great name of Marley obviously attributes recognition and distinction. Well, she is a grand-daughter of the renowned icon and daughter of singer David ‘Ziggy’ Marley and Carleene Samuels.
However, she has been able to live a “normal” lifestyle regardless of carrying his last name. Attending the Clive Davis Institute at the New York University in the United States of America, she is a fourth year student pursuing a music degree under the radar. She has mastered the ability of not attracting attention – she avoids identifying as a “Marley” upon conversing with people, in the event that talking with individuals know who she is, result in awkwardness. Sometimes she would have individuals ask her to smoke weed so that they could get ‘five minutes of fame’ of having a Marley smoke with them, even though she was not even a smoker.
“When I meet someone, I don’t ever say, ‘I’m Bob Marley’s granddaughter.’ When people find out who I am, sometimes they have strange reactions… Last year, one of my roommates realized who I was after three months and she said, ‘Nice to meet you.’ I was like, ‘What? You already know me!’ ” – Zuri Marley.
Thirty-six years after the untimely passing of Bob Marley, people around the world still celebrate his life and music, and most don’t even realize they are in the presence of one of his progenies.
“They’re either like OMG! or completely play it off. I’m not particularly affected by either, though it is nice when I meet people who really respect my family because it reminds me of the values I have and where I come from. Love and respect are huge and of course standing up for what you believe in.” – Zuri Marley.
Whilst growing up in Kingston, Jamaica. Zuri experienced the good and the bad of being a Marley. She received gifts and well-wishes, but she was also bullied during her school life:
“They would look at me and think, ‘she’s a Marley — she thinks she’s this and she thinks she’s that.’ But I don’t let it bother me. As they say in Jamaica, ‘Me no business!’” – Zuri Marley.
She spent most of her childhood as a regular kid, with her room decorated with Rihanna records and the Jonas Brothers’ posters. She grew up with her mother, Carleene, who exposed her to African, tap and jazz dance classes.
“We didn’t have the resources for all the things I needed in Jamaica, so I would constantly be online,” she says. “Tumblr was a huge thing for me. Writing was a huge thing for me. We had no Broadway. I would just listen to all the soundtracks.” – Zuri Marley.
She intends to graduate from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University in May of this year and start a career in music following her grandfather’s footsteps as a singer/songwriter but also charting her own path outside of reggae.
“Each individual has to find the space they feel best. Because even if it’s an open safe space, that’s just a title. You have to practice that, and live that. You have to look past the definition on paper and open yourself up, so that the spaces you create reflect that. Safe is a label, and I’m happy we have it but it doesn’t automatically mean the space is actually safe for any minority or person — it’s about the intention as much as the execution.” – Zuri Marley.
Her uncles Damian, Stephen and Ky-mani, her cousins Daniel Bambaata and Joseph ‘Jo Mersa’ and even her father, Ziggy, have carried on the well-trodden genre of reggae and have experienced fame as a result.
“I have the songs, but I need to build an environment around them. I think my music is more alternative-pop, not reggae. I don’t want to become what people think I should be.” – Zuri Marley, the New York Post.
She will explore releasing her music subsequent to being awarded her degree. She is very inspired by Lykke Li, Swedish pop singer, and Lady Gaga among other artistes with a unique vibe. Zuri has exposed her talent of singing and collaborated on a Dev Hynes’, also known as Blood Orange track, “Love Ya”, and did a mashup cover of Bob’s songs called Natural Mystic/Jammin on a YouTube.
“Dev is the homie, when he asked me to sing on his track I was like yes let’s do it. I’m not really a studio rat though I can find comfort in it. It was nice being able to do “Love Ya” live. That’s where I think we collaborated most!” –Zuri Marley.
While she focuses on graduating and her music, she also has a trendy sense of style, which has her featured in many magazines like Vogue and GQ. Zuri finds that there is more pressure in America on appearance as your face is constantly in the media and being scrutinized; criticism has both positive and negative impacts, but she still believes there is an outlook for creativity.
“The pressure to look a certain way is more present here. It is constantly in your face in the media and it’s pretty saddening. However, there is a creative aspect of beauty that exists here that is so incredible. I love makeup and always have. I think it’s like my weird superpower to be able to transform my look constantly with that tool even if it’s in a subtle way.” –Zuri Marley.
She explains that her fashion sense is derived from her Jamaican culture and the music she was exposed to when she was growing up in the sunny island of the Caribbean, “I think that comes from Jamaican dancehall culture and seeing that growing up. I wear wig caps regularly, that’s my style and I love it. Wearing wig caps also allows me to switch it up with a wig from my collection. I have about 12 wigs now and it’s growing, they all have names! You can do whatever you want with your appearance until you find what’s comfortable for you and maybe what’s comfortable for you is a new look biweekly — I support that.”- Zuri Marley
By Alexandra Daley