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The spirit of Bob Marley was all around at the 1 Hotel in West Hollywood on Tuesday (Jan. 21), as Island Records celebrated the posthumous 75th birthday of the reggae legend with a tribute performance by his grandson Skip Marley.
Primary Wave Music Publishing and Mastercard, who sponsored the event along with Amazon Music, transformed the hotel on Sunset Boulevard into the “One Love Hotel,” adding a jungle-like sign out front. Inside, tropical plants were set up around the lobby and bartenders served fruity “Exodus” drinks named after Marley’s 1977 album. And near the entrance a pop-up store featured Marley’s albums, along with Marley-branded speakers, blue tooth headphones, CBD body roll-ons and clothing imprinted with “Redemption” in celebration of the 40th anniversary of “Redemption Song.”
The event was the start of a week of Grammy events at One Love Hotel featuring Island Record artists. Skip Marley kicked it off on Tuesday with a set that blended classics like “Jamming” along with the younger Marley’s recently released “Slow Down,” a duet with H.E.R.
Wednesday (Jan. 22) will feature production duo NOTD and indie-electronic producer Shallou. Bishop Briggs will take the stage on Thursday, with a special performance from Julian Marley, son of Bob Marley. Friday will feature Jac Ross and Grammy-nominated Jessie Reyez, whose debut album is set to drop early this year.
Marley, a Rastafari icon from Jamaica, would have turned 75 on Feb. 6.
“I think this is fitting for dad,” says Cedella Marley, the reggae legend’s daughter. “Every year is important, but 75 is just a little more important for us. It’s going to be a good week.”
Bruce Resnikoff, the president/CEO of Universal Music Enterprises, which is involved in Marley's master catalog, credits the Marley heirs for ensuring that the dead singer, who commands the second-largest social media following among posthumous celebrities, "is more than a legacy." He is a "cultural icon, and a music-industry icon," Resnikoff says. "And that is why we can do things like create new videos or have people do new versions of songs and they make sense to the current generation."
Universal Music Group, through merchandising company Bravado, also controls worldwide apparel rights for Bob Marley.
Darcus Beese, Island’s president, says Marley’s “legacy is his DNA.” And “while the roots of his legacy get deeper, and the trunk get stronger and the branches get broader, it starts to bear fruit. And the fruit of the Marleys is just every season, it’s bearing fruit.”
The latest Marley to emerge is grandson Skip, 23, who says he is proud to carry on the tradition. “I always feel him,” he tells Billboard. “I just love singing his songs and spreading the love.”
For his own part, Skip, who signed to Island in 2017, was recently featured on the single “Cause a Commotion” with Bugzy Malone, and says he is in the final stage of choosing songs for his debut album, which will drop “anytime now.”
He described his music as a fuse of R&B, blues, rock and hip hop, with reggae “at the root of it.” Lately, Marley says he has been “working in the Afro-beat” with artists from Africa.
His mother, Cedella Marley, says her son’s voice is “maturing, sometimes eerily so” and calls him a perfectionist. “I know in probably the next hour we are going to go through every song, every note and he’s going to pick at it. I am just going to have to tell him, ‘But it’s over and you did well.’”
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