Marley Undaunted By Van Halen Opening Slot
The throngs of rock-loving Van Halen fans who show up early to the band's long-anticipated reunion tour this fall will be greeted with an unlikely opening act in reggae royalty Ky-Mani Marley. But thoThe throngs of rock-loving Van Halen fans who show up early to the band's long-anticipated reunion tour this fall will be greeted with an unlikely opening act in reggae royalty Ky-Mani Marley. But those expecting to hear copycat versions of his father's "One Love" or "Exodus" are in for a surprise, he says.
With a seven-piece band in tow, Marley -- the 31-year-old son of the iconic Bob and one-time table tennis champion Anita Belnavis -- will be performing tracks from his forthcoming "Radio" disc," which he says is not a reggae album.
"It's really edgy, really urban. It's not reggae," he tells Billboard.com. "I don't want to call it hip-hop, and it's not R&B. I like to call it 'Ky-Mani.' I think I've created my own sound now, where you can identify me from everything else. I don't like to stick to one genre. And that's the reason I call it 'Radio,' because the radio is where all genres of music meet."
In fact, it was through America radio, and the music played by his mom, that he was exposed to music of Van Halen as a child. Born in Falmouth, Jamaica, he moved to Miami in the early 1980s, where he grew up listening primarily to rock and pop music.
"In Jamaica, we only had one radio station, so when I came to America, my mom bought me a boom box, and I switched it onto the first channel I heard and left it there, thinking that's all there was,” he says. “It ended up being Y100. So in my early years, I'm listening to 'Love in an Elevator,' Guns N' Roses, Bon Jovi. My favorite record growing up was George Michael’s 'One More Try.'"
To be released Sept. 25 by the New York-based Vox Music Group, "Radio" is Marley's fourth disc, and the follow-up to 2001's Grammy-nominated "Many More Roads." It features appearances by Mya, Young Buck and rising Jamaican singer Tessanne Chin.
"It has an edgy feel to it," says Marley, who co-produced with Jason "J-Vibe" Famer, Ky Miller and Red Spyda. "It touches on a little bit of everything. You have the party song, the song that's a little more serious, the love songs for the ladies and the songs that touch the soul."
Marley, who also made strides as an actor in recent years, says he's not worried about the classic-rock audience he'll face on tour with Van Halen. "I'm not nervous because I'm not going there to play reggae,” he says.” I have music for everybody. There's definitely going to be some people surprised, I promise you. Of course, everybody's not going to like it, but everybody can't hate it. So my thing is, if I can capture one fan, then I've done my job."