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Off the Charts: Ziggy Marley

Posted on April 1, 2004

In the name (and image) of the father

With his thick mane of dreadlocks and quasi-mystic bearing, Bob Marley was a ganja-huffing demigod. As Timothy White sums in his Marley treatise Catch a Fire, “Historically certain figures sometimes emerge from stagnant, despairing and/or disintegrating cultures to reinterpret old symbols and beliefs and invest them with new meaning…. For Jamaicans, and ultimately for much of the Third World, Bob Marley was such a messianic figure.”

As a result, great expectations were heaped on Marley’s firstborn male — particularly since David (later, “Ziggy”) inherited his father’s otherworldly countenance. As an adult musician, Ziggy labored under this burden, largely rejected by the mainstream and frequently derided by reggae purists. Nevertheless, with the release of 1989’s Conscious Party he earned a Grammy for best reggae album and scored a Top 40 single in the United States — both feats never accomplished by his father.

Weed, It’s What’s For Dinner

Although Ziggy has yet to attain the sociocultural relevance of the elder Marley, he did briefly serve as the voice of Govinda Foods’ Hemp Bar — an eco-friendly energy bar composed of ingredients such as industrial hemp, carob, puffed amaranth and candied ginger. As a consequence of Ziggy’s endorsement, the company’s snack-related revenues more than tripled to $5.5 million, a percentage of which was donated to charity in Ziggy’s name.

Hemp and Circumstance

When a U.S. Border Patrol agent was dismissed from his job for testing positive for psychoactive drugs in 2002, he pinned the blame for the positive test on the Ziggy-endorsed Hemp Bar. But according to the Industrial Hemp Association, industrial hemp contains as little as 0.3 percent THC — an insufficient concentration to show up on a drug test. The organization further notes that hemp, hemp seed and hemp oil can be used to make milk, cheese, paper, clothing, building materials, rope, skateboards, auto bodies, lamp oil, lubricants, household detergents and paints.

Veggie Tales

In accordance with religious doctrine, Rastafarians are forbidden from eating anything that is not ital (or clean), including meat, alcohol, tobacco, shellfish, predatory species of marine life and salt. This, of course, makes the PETA people extremely warm in the pants, and Ziggy Marley was selected to compete in the animal rights organization’s 2003 “Sexiest Vegetarians Alive” poll. Facing stiff competition from the likes of Boy George, Casey Kasem, Leonard Nimoy, Ghostface Killah and Simpsons store clerk Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Marley was ultimately bested by Hollywood pretty boy Josh Hartnett.

Natty Dread

Ziggy’s religious convictions may prevent him from combing or cutting his hair, but they apparently do not prevent him from endorsing cosmetics companies that test their products on as many as 50,000 animals per year. In 1998, he and the Melody Makers appeared with supermodel Tyra Banks in a tropical-themed TV commercial for Cover Girl.

A Pot of Trouble

During a March 4 Ziggy Marley concert at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore Center, plainclothes police officers arrested 15 people, most for misdemeanor drug possession. According to an article in New Hampshire’s Union Leader, “Marijuana use is often associated with reggae music.”

He Talks To Insects

On Ziggy’s most recent album Dragonfly — his first without the Melody Makers — the title track highlights his metaphysical conversations with a butterfly, a bee, a dog, a cat, a dragonfly and a tree: “A dog looked at me and said Ziggy why can’t we trust man/ Puss and me get together why can’t you all just understand/ An old tree stood there silently listening to every word we said/ As a tear fell he cried what type of creature is man.”

Related articles:

Don’t laugh, hemp can be good for you
Thursday, October 5, 2000

Marley’s son to promote ‘Bliss’ hemp bar on world tour for charity
Friday, September 22, 2000

Ziggy Marley to Pitch for Hemp Bar
Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Copyright © 2004, Las Vegas Mercury. All rights reserved.

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