Bob Marley would have been proud of what his son Ky-Mani has become. A Grammy-nominated reggae artist, who has carved his own place in history with a successful career, Ky-Mani is a singer, actor, author and humanitarian with four successful studio albums to his credit.
The second youngest child of reggae icon Bob Marley, who died of cancer in 1981, Ky-Mani’s mother, Anita Belnavis, was a leading table-tennis player in the Caribbean in the 70s’, and is one of several women with whom Bob had children with outside of his marriage to Rita.
Fusing a musical talent with an athletic one, it’s no surprise this selfless and humble artist, who considers himself as “the black sheep of the family,” was destined for greatness.
Ky-Mani, who documented his childhood in a book titled Dear Dad, released earlier this year on what would have been his father’s 65th birthday.
The book, which focuses on his close relationship with his mother, Anita, also details a complicated relationship with his half-brothers and sisters, some of whom, he documented, enjoyed lavish lifestyles in contrast to the one he had while growing up. In addition, he writes that after he turned 18, he was forced to decide between taking a lump sum payment from the Marley estate, and risk not being “part of the estate,” or reinvest the payment. He took the lump sum and embarked on his own musical career, much to the disapproval of some of his family members, which prompted some to stop talking to him for a while.
“I have been thinking about writing a book for a couple of years,” adds Ky-Mani, about his decision to pen his childhood memoirs. “I was bitter about a lot of things that were bottled up inside of me, and I just needed to get it out of my system and put it out on paper,” continues the artist, who fondly recounts in the book, an occasion when his father took him on a family outing and also touches on his father’s premature death.
“I had to explain all the trials and tribulations I went through growing up, but my outlook is a little bit different now,” continues Ky-Mani, who started having kids at a young age. “Those are the things that I went through as a child, and I’m just explaining why I rebelled so much in the book. I started having children early because I wanted to have that relationship, which I didn’t have with my father, so I actually went out and had a child early,” he continues. “If I could do it over again, I wouldn’t do it the same way, because at that time, I didn’t really understand parenting. Fortunately for me, I am a fast learner.”
Dear Dad, which is distributed in five languages, was written with the assistance of Dr. Farrah Gray, the influential African-American empowerment guru, and it caused a slight firestorm between Ky-Mani and Gray when it was initially released, but it’s a disagreement Ky-Mani says was overblown.
“The drama wasn’t really the drama the media and blogs made it out to be,” he clarifies. “There was some discrepancy, but it’s all good right now. It wasn’t me trying to bash or say anything bad. It’s my story basically,” adds the artist who admits a closer relationship with brother Rohan.
”I am close to all my brothers and sisters, but I think I’m just closer to Rohan, because we were raised in Miami together, so I spent more time with him growing up, but I have a very close relationship with all of my siblings and love and respect all of them,” he adds.
An artist with no limits, Ky-Mani is currently recording his next album, which will be a double disc CD titled ‘Evolution of a Revolution’ at Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, Jamaica, the world-renowned studio founded by his father in 1965. An album, which is expected to continue his musical exploration, it will feature collaborations with artists from different music genres.
“The evolution side of it will be more live music,” Ky-Mani adds. “Music that speaks to the soul and if it’s put in a genre, it will be world music. The revolution side of it will be the follow up to Radio, which is more hip-hop, inner city, dancehall soul,” he explains.
Despite his father’s musical legacy, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that Ky-Mani started recording music, teaming up with hip-hop artist Pras from The Fugees for a rendition of Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”. Still remaining true to his Jamaican culture, Ky-Mani combines all genres of music, incorporating hip-hop, blues, rock, reggae and a grass roots sound into an end product that transcends the cultural line.
Ky-Mani also runs the association Love Over All Foundation (L.O.A.F.), and he has starred in several films, including “Haven” with Orlando Bloom, and the romantic movie “One Love” with singer Cherine Anderson.
Ky-Mani is best known with movie fans for his role in the crime film Shottas, where he starred opposite Wyclef Jean, the musician, who recently lost his presidential bid to govern Haiti. Not one to weigh in on politics, Ky-Mani, who has little to say on Wyclef’s presidential bid, certainly has more to say on Proposition 19 – the recent California ballot to legalize marijuana, which was rejected by voters.
An amiable and talented artist, Ky-Mani has performed all over the world and is already planning a world tour next year to promote the upcoming album, which is scheduled to be released in January 2011. In addition, he has several concert dates scheduled for February, 2011 in California, and he will be performing at the Roxy Theater on February 10th.