‘Getting a Grammy means we are getting across to the people with the Rastafari message,’ says Julian Marley

The 2020 Grammy Award winner for Best Reggae album will be revealed at the Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26.

Julian Marley

It’s a few days before music’s biggest night and Julian Marley is in a good mood. He’s got a reason to be. He’s just wrapped up a hugely successful West Coast tour promoting his fourth studio album “As I Am,” which is also up for a Grammy Award on Sunday night for Best Reggae Album.

It’s a second nomination for the musical genius whose last offering “Awake” earned him his first Grammy nomination in 2009 – an award he lost to his brother Stephen Marley, but if Julian is worried about any competition this time around, he certainly isn’t showing it.

“We don’t really call it ‘lost’ because it’s in the same vein and it becomes mine also,” he shares, referencing losing to Stephen. “For this Grammy nomination, this time around, whether I will win or not, I leave it all to the Almighty to do what it is to be done,” adds the spiritual artist who was meditating when he heard the news of his nomination.

“It caught me at a time when I was meditating in general and I said ‘blessed,’ as it aligns with the message that has to go out there. It’s a humbling thing rather than an excitement as I have played music since I was little. With any award, you are humbled and give thanks for the music as the message is getting out there. Getting a Grammy will mean that we are good in our arts and we are getting across to the people with the Rastafari message. And that you are getting a good reception from your peers, as well as the Grammy committee, the world and the Almighty.”

Inspired by life and spirituality, while still remaining true to his reggae roots, Julian’s “As I Am” album has a little ska, a little rock n roll and even features  a reggae version of Tom Jones’ original song “What’s New Pussycat,” an influence he admits probably stems from growing up in the United Kingdom.

“Sometimes you don’t even know where a certain song comes from as it’s inside and it just comes out. That’s the inspiration and the vastness of music. All the great musicians and singers are our teachers and we respect them.”As I am

It’s an album, which not only features Julian’s band, The Uprising Band, but also features collaborations with Jamaica’s reggae vocal group, The Tamlins, Spragga Benz, Beenie Man and Shaggy and is produced by Damian and Stephen Marley.

“I am friends with all of them,” he explains, referencing the collaborations. “While I was in the studio and ‘Too Hot To Dance’ was playing, I thought it would be good to feature Shaggy so I made the connection. With ‘Panic Mind State,’ it wasn’t supposed to be a feature, but while it was playing, Stephen came in the studio and heard it and we thought it would be good to connect with Spragga as it’s a fun song. I also have one with Addis Pablo, whose father is the legendary Augustus Pablo, which we did in dub. ‘Can’t Cool The Fire’ was produced by Stephen. That’s his production and when I heard it I just started to write some lyrics towards that. ‘Too Hot’ was produced by Damian and anything that we make, we have each other hear it and get opinions so it goes hand in hand with each other. Stephen and Damian obviously make it all possible so I have to give thanks to my brothers and all the musicians and everyone that played a part on this album.”

There were several songs recorded over the course of two years it took to produce the album and Julian will admit that it was a tough choice narrowing it down to 17 tracks.

“We just had to narrow it down. There are some songs that I still wanted to be on this album, but those will also come as they are finished. It’s just that certain songs go with certain songs so those will be on another set.”

With plans to embark on another tour, which could take him to Japan, South America and Europe in the summer, Julian is also focused on continuing to promote the healing benefits of marijuana with his company, JuJu Royal, which grows and sells potent strains of THC-containing cannabis.

“It’s a great time to be able to have something in the industry as a Rasta and it’s been doing good. At the moment the CBD is what we are focusing on and the healing benefits of the herb and we are dealing with a different part of the herb.”

“As I Am” is nominated for Best Reggae Album along with Koffee’s “Rapture”, Sly & Robbie & Roots Radics’s “The Final Battle: Sly & Robbie VS. Roots Radics”, Steel Pulse’s “Mass Manipulation”, and Third World’s “More Work To Be Done.”

Asked if he has a speech prepared for Sunday night and Julian will admit that he is working on something, which will be very low key.

“I am getting a few things together in mind to say. It’s going to be practical, humbling and basic, stating all who has helped make this album to be what it is.”

The 2020 Grammy Award winner for Best Reggae album will be revealed at the Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26.

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