By Steve Bloom
Stephen Marley, Bob Marley’s second son, is smoking a perfectly rolled spliff in his home studio in South Miami. He starts with freshly chopped herb on a cutting board, then adds a “lickle” loose tobacco and twists it up using a long Rizla paper.
“If you don’t roll it right, you get what we call a sore-foot spliff,” he laughs. Of course, he rolls it right. No loose pockets—it’s a cone that would make any Jamaican or Dutch smoker proud.
Marley’s preparing for the release of his long-awaited solo album, Mind Control. Two years ago, an advance CD was sent out called Got Music. But then his younger brother Damian (“Junior Gong”) had a huge hit with Welcome to Jamrock, which won both Grammy and Doobie awards in 2006. Stephen’s own seven Grammys sit atop the studio’s soundboard. He produced both of Damian’s Grammy-winning albums (the other was Halfway Tree in 2001). Stephen is the family’s engineering mastermind. Now it’s his turn to reap the public benefits of a hit album.
Got Music evolved into Mind Control as Marley added and subtracted songs, waiting for the right moment to release his debut. That moment turned out to be Feb. 6, 2007, upon the occasion of what would have been his father Bob “Tuff Gong” Marley’s 62nd birthday.
While Mind Control is more R&B and soulful than his dancehall-chatting brother’s albums, it’s also angrier, with a distinct focus on the politics of pot—ganja, as they say on his home island of Jamaica.