The voice you hear speaking on the haunting first track of Skip Marley’s debut EP Higher Place is that of his legendary grandfather Robert Nesta Marley, who once went by the nickname “Skip” himself. “Is something higher,” Bob once said in a 1979 interview, seeking to explain the magnitude of a profound worldwide reckoning that he knows is coming. “Is something no man can stop.”
On the title track of his EP, which was released last week on Tuff Gong / Island Records, Skip sings of his own burning desire to go higher. So what is this higher place all about? “The betterment of mankind,” Skip explained during a recent telephone call from Miami. “A world community where each one do him part and live right and live upful as we should. And it nah go’ happen unless you make that decision today. Cause it start within you first. For yourself. And you have to take I and I higher, forward.”
During a year that’s brought so many downward vibrations, it’s more than a little bit refreshing to hear such optimistic energy. For the past five years, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist has made that sort of thing his specialty. “Music with a message is the music we love,” says Skip. “Good vibrations. Positivity. Conscious influence of the heart and the mind and the soul. Yeah. Blessed are the singers and the players. Can’t take this lightly.”
When your mom is Cedella Marley, Bob’s firstborn child and a founding member of the Melody Makers, and your father’s aunt is Marcia Griffiths, one of Jamaica’s most revered singers and a member of Bob Marley’s harmony trio the I Three, taking music lightly isn’t really an option. Yet somehow Skip has found a way to carry the great expectations effortlessly, even as he holds himself to the highest standards.
Today, VIBE and Boomshots bring you a first look at the visuals for “Make Me Feel,” one of the standout tracks off the new EP. The song featuring vocals by Dreamville’s own Ari Lennox and a verse courtesy of the biggest Bawse that you’ve seen thus far. “‘Make Me Feel’ is all about getting through the tough times together,” says Skip. “Everybody has been stuck inside, so for the video we wanted to bring some big outside vibes and show that even though there are challenges, we have love, we have music, we have sport, and we have each other. Give thanks to Rick Ross the boss and Ari Lennox for doing what they do.” The video was directed by Lacey Duke, who also helmed “Slow Down,” Skip’s sultry duet with H.E.R. That song topped Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs chart, making Skip the first Jamaican-born artist to reach such heights. With “Slow Down” in heavy rotation at radio, Skip also became the first Jamaican artist since Sean Paul to reach the Top 15 on Billboard’s airplay charts for Hip Hop and R&B.
Like all of Skip’s creations thus far, “Make Me Feel” is rooted in reggae but flows freely through R&B and hip hop. For him, it’s all about feel. “One good thing about music,” his grandfather once sang, “When it hits you feel no pain.” Skip could not agree more. “That is real,” he says adamantly. “If it no have the feeling, it’s not true.” He cites another Bob Marley interview—clearly the young lion has been doing his research—in which the Tuff Gong observes that “Nuff man wan’ play reggae. But them can’t capture the feeling.” This is the crux for Skip. “It’s a feeling you know, for the music. You can make it sound like, yeah, but if your heart is not in it, why do it?” Why indeed?
Skip Marley’s Higher Place EP is on all streaming platforms.