Culture

Ziggy Marley wants to keep cannabis in local farmers’ hands, out of corporate system

Reggae music star Ziggy Marley is returning to Humboldt County next week, but this time with a call to action and an end to complacency.

While the 49-year-old son of reggae legend Bob Marley and eight-time Grammy award winner has focused past records and songs on personal growth and spiritualism as a way to achieving peace and happiness, Marley said his latest album, “Rebellion Rises,” released in March is his answer to a need for a worldwide wake-up call to pressure the powers that be to stand for humanity.

Marley said he is hoping his upcoming North American tour — which begins Friday in Southern California and will take him to Humboldt State University’s Van Duzer Theatre on Wednesday — will be more than just a show, but rather a rallying cry for peace.

Marley spoke Tuesday about his latest album, future projects and the legalization of cannabis and its effect on local culture.

WH: I wanted to get right into your latest album this year, “Rebellion Rises.” In recent interviews you’ve done, you’ve said this is one of the only albums you’ve done that you enjoy listening to more. Compared to past albums that kind of focused on a personal reflection and inner spiritualism, this one is more of a call to action to both the world and to yourself. What prompted you to speak out now more so than you have in the last 30 years of your recording history?

ZM: This is just how I feel, you know? I mean, there is nothing specific that prompted me other than I feel like the world needs some sort of inspiration to wake us up, to unify us more, to encourage us to be our best and do our best for humanity. I think there is a lack of socially conscious music on the airwaves and in the culture that we live in today. And the world needs that because the balance, we have to have to have a balance between what is entertaining and fun and what is socially conscious and needed. So, we are kind of out of balance, I feel, so I think it was the perfect time to do a record like this.

Singer Ziggy Marley will perform Wednesday at Humboldt State University in Arcata. (Felix Marquez/Associated Press Archives)

WH: There was one lyric in your song “Circle of Peace” that really stood out to me. The line was, “For my inaction there is no defense/for my action, there will be consequence.” That to me seemed to say there is no room waiting for change, for hoping for it. You have to take action or something is going to happen regardless of whether or not you do something. Was this a central message you wanted to send? What are you hoping when people listen to this album and hear these lyrics, what do you hope they will be inspired to do and take from it?

ZM: Well, I hope I hope they will be inspired to let the leaders of the world know what priority humanity has. We are human beings of the world, what do we want to see? What do we want as humanity? Not as individual persons or individual countries or even individual groups, but as humanity as a whole. What is it that we want? How do we prosper? We prosper through peace, not through divisiveness and war and violence. And so in that same song we make the point of saying that, “Only the willing will see their dreams.”

And so those of us who speak of peace and all of these great things that we want to see for each other, we must take action and we must be willing in order for these things to become a reality. Talking about it and dreaming about it is not enough. We really have to do something and I feel like the time is now to really galvanize human beings for the purpose of the betterment of humanity. To jump in at the deep end.

WH: I know you and your brothers are no strangers to Humboldt County, but this year seems to be a little different in that California has now legalized cannabis, is holding producers more accountable for having higher standards of quality and making it more readily available to the masses. At the same time, it’s transforming what people have seen as a culture in Humboldt County, this way of life out here. I know you’ve been outspoken in the past about legalizing cannabis and regulating it for safe use, especially for pesticides. Where do you see the balancing of having these standards in place and legalized, but still retain the culture?

ZM: The only thing will be like big industry takeover. We want to support small farmers and local people. You know I mean? That is the way cannabis has been throughout history. It’s small farmers, local people, you know, growing and getting the benefits of it and sharing that with the community. So, we hopefully can keep marijuana as a community-based thing and not become an overindustrialized, big corporate system, you know, because that corrupts it. So that is the balance, to make sure it doesn’t grow so big that it falls out of the hands of the community and the small, local farmers.

WH: Your brother, Stephen Marley, is going to be playing a show out in the Mateel Community Center in Redway the day before your show. Will you two get a chance to meet up or play together?

ZM: Yeah, Will, we’ll see. I don’t know. We’ll have to see what the plan is. If we can do it, we do it, you know?

WH: You’re starting off your big North American tour this month. What’s the future looking like for you?

ZM: We’re looking forward to the tour, because I hope this tour is just more than entertainment. It’s more of a rallying cry as I’ve said before. When we’re on stage on this tour, these songs and these words that we are singing, it’s more than songs, it’s more than music. It’s inspiration, it’s a call for action, but we’re using music and songs as a vehicle instead of speeches. But this is the movement we want to be part of and we want to help.

As far as future things go, I’m working on a children’s book again. I love doing stuff in that space and maybe another children’s album like we did many years ago with “Family Time,” so we’re looking forward to that.

WH: I know you’ve come to Humboldt County regularly in this past decade if not before then. What about this region makes you want to come back every couple of years?

ZM: Well, the people. I come for the people. The people love it. We love the people. And the people need it, and we need the people. So, we help each other out, you know?

WH: Alright, well, Ziggy, was there anything else you’d like to bring up that you feel is important to mention?

ZM: We have to find a way to bring the people’s agenda to the forefront of what is political agenda and the corporate agenda. And you know, peace is prosperity, man. Unity is prosperity. That is where prosperity is. So, I feel like I want to encourage everyone to come together and take a stand for humanity and the betterment of humanity and let the politicians know where the people stand. We need more, we need people to stand up more now. More people, more standing up, you know? This is what we need. Because we know we exist, we know what we want, we know we are the majority. You know, we have to show them we are the majority because they don’t believe it. They don’t see it enough, you know? We have to show them. We who want peace and love and less divisiveness and prosperity, true unity is the majority of the people on earth. They don’t believe it. They need to see it.”

If You Go

  • What: Ziggy Marley concert
  • When: 8-10 p.m., Wednesday
  • Where: Van Duzer Theatre, Humboldt State University, 1 Harpst St., Arcata
  • Tickets cost $66 for general admission, $25 for students.
  • Tickets can purchased online at https://centerarts.humboldt.edu/Online/ or contact the Center Arts Ticket Office at 707-826-3927, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.