Fitness fuels how Jean Titus tailored and customized his own way ‘The gym is just part of what I do. It’s my process.’

At one point in his life, Jean Titus was much larger than his current chiseled frame. The latter propelled him to create his own clothing line, Black by Jean LeVere, because of a lack of choice choices available “off the rack.” Dubbed the “Ripped Grandpa,” without any grandchildren, the personal trainer developed his brand in the Washington, D.C., metro area to include fashion consultation and words of encouragement from social broadcasts posted to his Facebook page. In anticipation of maintaining this year’s resolutions, The Undefeated spoke with Jean about his wellness journey.


Be realistic with yourself, start slowly. Find something you can do. Focus on
bettering each day’s effort so the only person you have to compete with is yourself.


I’ve maintained a regimen for a while. I got more serious about fitness and my workouts after watching a lot of people I know die, get sick and lose their health. You can do as much as you want and make as much money as you want, but there is nothing in this world more valuable than your health.


There’s a decision you have to make, and then there’s information. Most people fail because mentally they don’t commit. I’m not Superman. There’s nothing particularly different about me other than I made a commitment. If you change your diet and habits and actually diligently work and work and work towards it, you will get better, period.

Fall in love with the process, learn the process. A lot of people want to focus on the results but they don’t want to focus on the process. The results will take care of itself.


Stop talking about all the foods you’re going to be missing and actually look forward to your success. Our society right now is being overrun by sugar. We are killing ourselves with our choices. Right next to the unhealthy choice is the healthy choice; it’s usually one pace away. Kicking those habits are very difficult. Your body literally goes through withdrawal when you kick the habit.

What you’re going to save in eating healthy today is a fraction of what you’re going to spend for high blood pressure and diabetes medicine, especially for people who are predisposed to it already.


You make the time. It’s important. If you go into it thinking this might be futile, you’re already defeating yourself.


I’m comfortable both ways. It depends on what the occasion calls for. All of the things you see me do [on social media] are actually reflections of my natural personality. I’ve worn a suit for a long time, so I’m extremely comfortable with that as well.

I am not a grandpa [he says with a smile.] But my daughter is old enough for me to be a grandpa. “Ripped Grandpa” was a headline used in an article.


I had the fortune of watching my father die. My father was a doctor, and for many years he was affluent with cars, houses and a lot of stuff. Watching the parade of people coming in the house, the weeks before he died, and seeing how he affected their lives. Everybody talked about how he made them feel and how he treated them. When people tried to pray for him to live longer he would say, “Pray for me to die faster ’cause I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do.” That, in itself, put life into perspective for me. So truly Bob Marley was right when he said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” That is what motivates me. To have a positive impact on the people that come around me.

Willie Cauley-Stein on his tattoos, guarding Boogie Cousins and keeping it 100 The Sacramento Kings big man talks about painting, why his middle name is ‘Trill’ and that time he met LeBron in a Vegas elevator

If Willie Cauley-Stein had a creed, it’d be simple: Keep it (insert 100 emoji). That’s exactly how the third-year center of the Sacramento Kings strives to operate — on the court, and especially off.

When he’s not banging in the post or catching lobs, the 7-footer is flicking a paintbrush across a canvas or brainstorming ideas for his athleisure and lifestyle clothing lines — plans are in the works for both. Cauley-Stein is all about sharing his sauce, and he can dress with the best of them. He even has a dope nickname to go along with his unique style. Back in his college days at the University of Kentucky, before the Kings selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft, his friends began calling him “Trill,” which fit him so well that he made it his legal middle name.

Now in the middle of what’s statistically the best season of his pro career — 12.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists a game — the 24-year-old hooper from Spearville, Kansas, chops it up about his nickname and jersey number, as well as the most important things he learned from former Kings teammate DeMarcus Cousins. Oh, yeah, and he shoots his shot with his celebrity crush. That’s how trill Willie Cauley-Stein is.

When did you start painting?

I probably started painting when I was in preschool. I remember my first time mixing red and blue and making purple. It was just over from there. But painting, seriously? High school. [And] I took art classes into college. Now it’s on a different level.

How often do you get a chance to paint?

I gotta lot of downtime after workouts and basketball. Whenever I really want to, I can paint. It kinda just goes by my emotions and feelings at the time.

Do you have a favorite painting you’ve done?

I did a Bob Marley piece for one of my barbers. I did it in like 30 minutes, but it looks like I put a lot of time into it. It looks so, so smooth to me. I don’t know why. That’s probably my favorite one.

How would you describe your artistic style?

It’s street art, but not as free as I feel like most street art is. It’s more structured … I don’t know. I’ve never had to explain it before.

Instagram Photo

How would you describe your personal style?

Very free. Definitely an expression of my emotion. How I dress is the way I feel. If I’m wearing bright colors, I’m probably in a great mood. Dark colors … I’m just there.

What’s your favorite piece in your closet right now?

I couldn’t tell you. I have a lot of sauce, dude. I have a huge Bape collection. I gotta pretty big Off-White collection too. A lot of Gucci. I like it all.

What made you want to start your clothing line, Will Change Sports?

I honestly just got tired of spending hella money on other people’s stuff when I can do it myself. So I just decided, why not invest in my own creativity?

Five years from now, where do you see your clothing company?

The sky’s the limit. It’ll go wherever I want it to go, based on how much energy and effort I put into it. This is only the first one; I want a lifestyle brand too. The one that’s dropping next month is a sporting brand, but I have a whole lifestyle brand that I got like four seasons done on already drawn up.

Name one pair of shoes you could wear for the rest of your life.

For the rest of my life? … Probably a classic black and white Chuck Taylor, low-op. That’s because I feel like they’d last forever, and black and white goes with anything.

Why do you wear the No. 00?

Because I’m just 100. I’m real. I’m completely authentic. So me standing up is the one, and the 00 makes the 100.

How’d you get the nickname ‘Trill’?

In college, I had a few friends that were from Houston. They started calling me ‘Trill Will.’ I liked the way they were using the word so much that I started going by just ‘Trill.’ One day I had to go to the courthouse to get my name legally changed to Cauley-Stein. So I was like, ‘Mom, I’m trying to change my middle name too.’ She said, ‘OK.’ Trill it was.

What was your previous middle name?


Who’s the most famous person following you on IG [Instagram]?

Shoot, I don’t even know. Maybe Drake? … LeBron? I’ve never really looked, so now I’m curious.

If you could take one celebrity on a date, who would it be and why?

Wowwwww. Interesting. Probably India Love, honestly. I follow her Instagram, and she just got a lot of sauce, man. I’m interested in how she be thinking, though.

Where would you take her?

Shoot, I don’t know … anywhere! It don’t matter. I’m a big steak connoisseur, so I’d probably have to take her to Miami and check out Salt Bae’s restaurant, see what my man is doing.

Have you ever been starstruck?

About a year ago, I met Allen Iverson for the first time, and that was so surreal to me. Being a big dude but having him as one of your idols growing up was cool to me. When I met him, it was crazy. I was like, ‘This is A.I. … looking like he could still come out here and hoop. But also, maybe right after my rookie year, Cleveland had just won it, and I ran into LeBron in the elevator in Vegas. That was crazy. It was just me, him, Tristan Thompson and one of my homies. I was just like, ‘Wow … I’m with LeBron right now.’ It was completely random … I just dapped him up, said, ‘What’s good?’ and kept it pushing. Went on my way.

What’s your most meaningful tattoo?

I’m emotionally attached to all of them, but I’d probably go with the ones dedicated to my fallen soldiers. My little man, Blake [Hundley] … he had cancer when I was in college. I was with him through the last parts of his life. He changed my life, on some real stuff. So I got ‘Team Blake’ on my neck … everywhere I go, he goes with me. Every time anybody sees me, they’re gonna see his name. That’s pretty important to me. Also, one of my friends died from a Xanax overdose, so I put him on my face. His initials. Those are probably my favorite ones.

If you could dunk on one NBA player, past or present, who would it be and why?

Wilt Chamberlain, for sure. That would be a crazy poster in my room.

His friends began calling @THEwillieCS15 “Trill,” which fit him so well he made it his legal middle name.

Who’s the toughest player you’ve ever had to guard?

Steven Adams … and DeMarcus Cousins is pretty tough, because he’s a big-ass guard. That’s really it. Everybody else is pretty fun to guard.

What’s the most important thing you learned from playing with Cousins?

Just game intensity. Bringing it every night. He’s one of the most consistent dudes I’ve ever watched play the game, especially how he plays it. It’s incredible to me. I learned a lot of stuff not really talking to him but watching him, and watching how he operates off the court. I thought it was really cool how much time he actually spends in the community. I think the media gives him a bad rep … but he does a lot of good s—.

What will you always be a champion of?

Being 100. Being real. Being authentic. Spreading good vibes and love all the time.

#BlackHogwarts has us lining up at platform 9 3/4 Black Twitter’s latest gift has got us wondering where we can register for classes

Black Twitter has done it again! The latest hashtag to take off is hysterical, and we’re so here for it.

We already knew black nerds (aka blerds) were a force to be reckoned with. But black Harry Potter fans have taken it to the next level with #BlackHogwarts.

The best thing is, this hashtag has us truly thinking about what an all-black Hogwarts would really look like — and honestly, it sounds lit! Between butter beer with Hennessy, swag surfing in the Great Hall and the livest Quidditch game halftime show (because we all know halftime is game time), we’re lining up at platform 9 3/4.

We’ve collected a few of the funniest tweets below for your viewing pleasure:


Singer and actor Rotimi on the difference between him and his ‘Power’ television character Rotimi vs. Dre: ‘I pray for them if they don’t realize that it’s an art. I don’t know what else to do’

“I hate Dre, but this tune by Rotimi is actually a banger.”

I heard Rotimi’s song for the first time yesterday. I had been skipping it ’cause I hate Dre.”

“I really don’t like Rotimi ’cause I don’t like Dre.”

A quick Twitter search including the name of singer and actor Rotimi will reveal a dozen more comments about how torn Power fans are when it comes to distinguishing between singer and actor Rotimi Akinosho, and his character, Andre Coleman (Dre). At the mention of fan conflict, Rotimi laughed it off.

“I pray for them if they don’t realize that it’s an art,” he said. “I don’t know what else to do. I’m just doing my job. If they believe TV is real life, you gotta pray for them.”

Rotimi is not Dre. Dre is not Rotimi. Dre, a handsome, smooth and calculating yet grimy character developed nearly four years ago, is night and day from Rotimi, the smooth crooner whose latest project, Jeep Music, Vol. 1, has captured a different audience with his relatable tunes. But the fun of playing such a different person has taught Rotimi to be more comfortable with his character to reel fans into the storyline.

“I’ve been playing [Dre] for about three years now, so I know who he is,” Rotimi said. “I’ve created a backstory of who he is, how he was as a child, the girlfriends he’s had, why he’s doing X, Y, Z, his daughter. I’ve created a backstory that I’m now comfortable living in. The creator and writer of the show, Courtney Kemp Agboh, she gave me so much freedom that I can finally just live in the character. And that’s what’s happening now.

The 29-year-old does admit that there are only a couple of similarities he shares with his character.

“They’re very similar in terms of ambition. I’m very ambitious and I want to be the best,” Rotimi said. “He wants to be the best. He’s just hungry and I’m hungry. I think that’s the only similarities. Just the hunger for greatness, and that’s what I live every day.”

After perfecting his character for nearly three years on the show, Rotimi has grown accustomed to the reactions.

“This year for me was very polarizing,” he said. “It was music, then acting took over and I feel like people are really confused because I’m really good at both. So being that way, they don’t know what to expect. They don’t know how to truthfully know the difference and I have to accept that because what’s different about Rotimi the person is I’m in this industry, but I’m not of it. I give my craft to them, but it’s like you really believe my part or musically it’s like you really believe what I do. I know that it comes with the territory. Once I signed that contract, I knew my life was now for the people. It’s dope.”

Music was a path that chose Rotimi, born Olurotimi Akinosho, at an early age. As an only child growing up in his Nigerian household in Maplewood, New Jersey, it was possible for Rotimi’s parents to start his musical education at 5 years old. His mother, upon learning he could sing, enrolled him in classes that would help his craft, including learning to play the piano, violin and joining the children’s choir.

“My mom had me singing at weddings at 5 years old. I was a wedding singer. She had me doing that early, and that was my passion. I always listened to Bob Marley as a kid and my mom heard me and it just took off from there for her. My mom did everything that a normal Nigerian woman wouldn’t do. She was my first manager.”

Rotimi and his mother continued to nurture his natural talent and at 15 years old, Rotimi placed first in an amateur night competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Rotimi eventually took his talents to Chicago, where he attended Northwestern University and majored in theater. After graduating in 2010, Rotimi remained in Chicago as he figured out his next steps. Singing and songwriting remained his top priorities, but he would need to add a little more to his arsenal.

“After college, I was in Chicago and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I loved music, but I was struggling financially,” Rotimi said. “My manager at the time was like, you really need to just try acting and see how it goes.”

As luck would have it, Rotimi found himself in talks with Hollywood producers and executives who could jump-start his acting career — one being actor, producer and director Kelsey Grammer.

“I went in and it was my first audition that I booked a major role on a TV show called Boss,” Rotimi said. “After booking it, it was kind of like, ‘Whoa. Am I an actor?’ It felt like a natural fit for me. I think it was just my fear of failing. I didn’t want to fail. So, my fear of failing drove me to obsessing over making sure I was doing the right thing. It was natural, but it was the fear of not being good enough that made me want to dedicate my time to this.”

The political drama starring Grammer only lasted two seasons, but gave Rotimi enough experience to take on other roles in projects such as ABC’s short-lived series Betrayal, and movies including Divergent and Deuces, the Netflix originals Imperial Dreams, and Burning Sands before landing a key role on Starz’s hit show Power, one of his most well-known roles to date.

Rotimi’s role as Dre somewhat complements his music career. Although some fans may struggle to differentiate between Rotimi as an actor and what he brings to the table as a musician, he has seen an uptick in the number of fans who are discovering his not-so-secret musical talents with the help of Power.

“It’s been dope because Power puts me on a platform where people actually have eyes and ears to see and listen to what I do,” Rotimi said. “Out of curiosity, they’re like, ‘Oh, he does music? He’s really, actually good at this.’ Power is kind of like a label. It’s like an RCA. It’s like a Jive Records. It puts you on that platform for me where I can show what I do. And I know that my music, when people hear it, they understand it and they get it and they’re like, ‘whoa.’ It’s been good. Negatively, it’s human nature. Some people are like, ‘I don’t know if I should listen to it because it’s Dre.’ But then out of curiosity, they’ll still listen to it and vibe. It’s a beautiful situation and I really thank God for this opportunity.”

The role of Dre has also allowed Rotimi to challenge himself and show more of his personality through “Mr. Sexy Nigerian Buttascotch,” the exaggerated extension, or alter ego, of Rotimi’s Nigerian roots who occasionally appears on the star’s Instagram page.

“He’s always been here,” Rotimi said of the character. “It’s one of those things where I was chilling and I realized I was so afraid of showing my personality as an artist. But when people say show who you are and be true to yourself, that’s something I’ve been doing for years. So, it just felt right one day to just roll the Instagram camera and hit play. Being that it’s been received so much has been really awesome.”

With Rotimi’s career on an upswing, the singer and actor has no plans of slowing down. But greatness, in whatever career path Rotimi has chosen, is what he strives to attain the most.

“I strive for it. I want it, Rotimi said. “I want thousands of people to feel like they have to speak at my funeral. I expect of the world that much. I know what I’m doing is so powerful, and I want people to say he made me feel this way and he did it with a smile.”

Colin Kaepernick has earned the right to rock that ‘GQ’ cover uniform and Afro He may be wearing it on the cover of a fashion magazine, but it is not just for fashion

On Monday, GQ magazine released its Men of the Year issue naming former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick as its Citizen of the Year. Continuing his strategic silence, Kaepernick’s words are not featured in the piece. Instead, he guided GQ to interview 10 of his “closest confidants” — including director Ava DuVernay, hip-hop artist J. Cole, Women’s March co-organizer Linda Sarsour, and civil rights activist and entertainment icon Harry Belafonte — to provide intimate insights into Kaepernick the human being.

I was honored to be one of the 10 people interviewed for this piece.

While reading the article, I found myself fixated on the images that accompanied the piece. Photographed in Harlem, New York, by Martin Schoeller, the images were intended to “evoke the spirit of Muhammad Ali’s anti-Vietnam War protests in the neighborhood during the late ’60s.”

But for me, there was so much more encoded in the photographs, particularly the cover. There was so much beautiful black history and politicization hidden in plain sight.

Kaepernick’s Afro shined like a crown of black consciousness on the cover of GQ, serving as a crucial component for framing his unspoken love for black aesthetic affirmation. But if one picks through the historical roots of his natural hair halo, they will find a legacy of powerful black women affiliated with the Black Panther Party.

Arguably, the most iconic Afro of all rested atop of the head of the women engaged in black revolutionary praxis — most notably, Angela Davis. Unfortunately, many reduce her natural hair choice to simply a style to be easily emulated and not a powerful symbol that reflected a departure from the politics of respectability that served as a visual hallmark of the civil rights era, nor as a choice that combated Eurocentric standards of beauty that waged war on the self-esteem of black children, women and men in America.

As Davis noted, “I am remembered as a hairdo. It is humiliating because it reduces a politics of liberation to a politics of fashion.” This reduction that Davis sees as humiliating anchors the important implications involved in the multilayered nature of the Black Power-era mantra, “black is beautiful.” It was not just about looks, it was about liberation.

However, as Kim McNair, a postdoctoral scholar at USC who teaches in the departments of American studies and ethnicity, and history, poignantly points out:

Kaepernick’s choice in style links him not only to the idea of “black is beautiful” but also connects him to figures such as Frederick Douglass and Bob Marley, two biracial figures in the long black freedom struggle. These men also wore their hair long, and Marley’s choice in particular was part of his Rastafarianism that also became a political movement. Hair politics among mixed-race black people carries a weighted history of questions around legitimacy and racial authenticity. This is why Kaepernick’s choice in hairstyle is purposeful — not superficial, as many would like for us to believe.

I can recall an impromptu conversation that Colin had with the youths invited to one of his Know Your Rights Camps in Chicago. During a heated debate about young men and the need to look presentable, Kaepernick peacefully yet passionately interjected, speaking to the young black folks in the crowd about the importance of loving themselves — specifically their hair. He spoke directly to those who were stigmatized for making the choice to wear their hair in locs, or in some iteration of an Afro, highlighting how this cultural criticism about natural black hair was just one of the many ways that anti-blackness attacks your sense of self, leaving a trail of self-hate for something that was given to you from birth: your hair.

The children returned the love via a roaring round of applause.

Colin’s homage to the aesthetics of the Black Panther Party on the cover of GQ continued via his adorning a black turtleneck and a black jacket with a peaked lapel, symbolically connecting his image to the likes of Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and many others wearing the Black Panther Party uniform, presenting themselves as a unified group moving in solidarity in the fight against systemic oppression.

Seale complained that with the increase in Panther visibility, many wanted to wear the impressive Panther uniform of the black beret, black pants, blue shirt and black turtleneck, but only to posture and pose “with a mean face on, their chests stuck out and their arms folded.” They wanted to be seen as helpers of the people without putting in the work and making sacrifices for the people.

Colin, by way of the work that he has committed himself to for social justice, and the sacrifices that he has made, has earned the right to wear that uniform and rock that Afro. Even though it is on the cover of a fashion magazine — it is not just for fashion.

As one delves deeper into GQ’s photographs of Kaepernick, it impossible to miss the image of Colin wearing a dashiki top while in a crowd of beautiful black and brown faces. This, of course, is a re-creation of the iconic image of Muhammad Ali in 1974, among the people of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is also a remix of photos taken of Colin while on a trip to Ghana. As Colin let the world know on July 4 via an Instagram post, and an accompanying video:

“In a quest to find my personal independence, I had to find out where my ancestors came from. I set out tracing my African ancestral roots, and it led me to Ghana. Upon finding out this information, I wanted to visit the sites responsible for myself (and many other Black folks in the African Diaspora) for being forced into the hells of the middle passage. I wanted to see a fraction of what they saw before reaching the point of no return. I spent time with the/my Ghanaian people, from visiting the local hospital in Keta and the village of Atito, to eating banku in the homes of local friends, and paying my respects to Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial Park. I felt their love, and truly I hope that they felt mine in return.”

I was there with him in Africa. I was there when he and his partner Nessa personally picked out that dashiki while paying respects to African ancestors who were stripped of their lives in the Goree Island slave castles. This dashiki was not a piece picked out by a stylist — it was a part of his personal collection.

This was again, a moment of Colin telling his story pictorially in the GQ article without opening his mouth. The pictures are frozen moments of living memories, archiving a man of the people and his reluctant ascendance into the pantheon of iconoclasts, engaged in the struggle to attack oppressive beliefs and norms held by racist individuals and the traditional institutions that they control.

The employment/reconstruction of the iconic likeness of freedom fighters of the Black Power movement serves as a pathway that not only reminds us of the past, but the contemporary relevance of the image of Kaepernick on the GQ cover also shows how, in troublingly tangible ways, many things have not changed in America. Colin’s clothing in the GQ article honored the ancestors and challenged contemporary anti-blackness in the present. It was an icon of today paying respect to icons of the past while investing in the youth, the icons of the future.

Colin said a lot without saying anything at all.

‘Power’s’ Dre — real name Rotimi — is also a music man The singer-actor loves Instagram — and baring his soul

Singer Rotimi’s new eight-song EP Jeep Music, Vol. 1 (G-Unit/EMPIRE, released Aug. 4), has been making waves — but you probably know the 28-year-old Nigerian-American New Jersey native as drug-dealing antihero Dre Coleman on Starz’s hit show Power. Despite his high-profile role, Rotimi says he just sort of fell into acting. “I’d just graduated from Northwestern University, and I was touring and performing at different colleges. My manager said, ‘Yo, we need more money. Maybe you should try getting another commercial, or print modeling or something, and see how it goes.’ ”

It clearly went well, but his heart is still deeply in music. He’s performed on stage with T.I. and with 50 Cent (executive producer of Power and co-founder of G-Unit Records), who both appear on the track “Nobody,” and Rotimi is currently touring nationwide with singer/songwriter August Alsina on his Don’t Matter Tour, which wraps this weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We caught up with Rotimi to discuss his new music (of course), Instagram and the greatness of Michael Jordan.

Who was your childhood hero?

My dad. I wanted to make my dad happy all the time. Whenever I’d do something really dope, he would kind of reward me, [with] like, basketball games or music. I was just trying to get my pops to be proud.

What’s your favorite social media spot?

I like Instagram. It allows me to be funny, silly, write cool captions — but also kind of be nosy and see what other people are doing.

What’s the last show you binged?

American Crime. I’m on season two right now. It’s so good.

Your favorite athlete of all time?

Michael Jordan. He taught me early on what greatness was. How amazing it was. How it captured audiences. Love him or hate him, he’s great. It was a cool thing to see as a kid.

She was known to have this white Jeep in Jersey, so I used it as a metaphor for that relationship.

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

I always go over everything with my dancers, talk to my DJ, and we pray. I play the show in my head and pray that it goes well and that everything that I want to convey is shown.

What about a guilty pleasure?

I watched a couple episodes of Real Housewives of Atlanta. At first I was like, I ain’t watching this, but then I was like, ‘OK, this is interesting, when’s the next one come out?’ I was like, ‘Daaang, he went to jail?’ It’s a good show. I was tryna hate, but I can’t.

Favorite throwback TV show?

Definitely The Fresh Prince [of Bel-Air].

What’s the first concert you ever went to?

Damian Marley. I grew up listening to a lot of Bob Marley. My dad was a huge Bob Marley fan. It played a lot in my house. Damian Marley came to Jersey and performed at this festival in the park, and I remember going with Dad. I was around 11.

Who’s the most famous person following you on Instagram?

I’d say Russell Westbrook, Snoop Dogg, 50 [Cent], and La La [Anthony] are the most famous people following me.

What’s the craziest lie you ever told?

That I played basketball overseas. That I was a ballplayer from Greece.

Did they believe it?

They believed that s—.

I play the show in my head and pray that it goes well and that everything that I want to convey is shown.

What’s the last stamp on your passport?

London, we had a show. I performed at The O2 Arena with 50 [Cent]. We did that; it was really cool.

What’s one place you’re dying to visit?

I wanna go to Dubai. I want to see that for myself, how man built something like that.

Tell me more about your new music.

Being that I’m a new ‘celebrity,’ I [was in] a really, really tough relationship. People call Jeep Music a project, but really it’s just me expressing myself musically. It’s a time capsule of when I met her — and how it ended. It explains exactly the stories we went through. She was known to have this white Jeep in Jersey, so I used it as a metaphor. It’s really not a project … it’s really me. People need to hear the story of what happened and how it affected me and how it affected her. It’s a story.

Are we going to hear any of your music on Power?

Not this season. I was so busy creating the project that I didn’t want to rush any of it.

What would you tell your 15-year-old self?

That you’re going to grow up and be a baaad m—–f—–. I would tell him to definitely keep playing the piano. It’ll change your life if you keep doing it. And always be true to yourself — continue to be true to yourself.

What will you always be the champion of?

I will always be the champion of my destiny.

Selah Marley, granddaughter of Bob Marley, is driven to succeed now The product of Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley, Selah is charting her own path on her own time

Selah Marley doesn’t know where her inner drive comes from — not really, anyway. She hears the whispers — from friends, family and the media — about how much she’s accomplished in her 18 years. All she knows is something inside her fuels her to go harder, do more … go faster.

Her parents, Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley, know where that drive comes from, no question about that. It was there since day one.

“I was driving through the tunnel,” Rohan Marley recalled of the day Hill was expected to deliver, “and I had to drive through the gate because I didn’t want to stop. I even went down a one-way road, and a policeman told me we should go to another hospital, and still went my way. I was determined to get us to a safe place — and her mother and I wanted to take her to a certain place, regardless of what was going on — so she’s truly a product of that kind of drive and determination.”

Indeed, Selah Marley has a lot going for her, and it doesn’t hurt that her mom is the infamous L. Boogie Hill and her grandfather, Bob Marley, is an icon in every nook and cranny of the world. And maybe that’s something else that’s making her go so hard.

Her modeling resume, thus far, warrants a raised eyebrow. She’s worked with Chanel, Calvin Klein, Kanye West’s Yeezy Season presentation and Beyonce’s Ivy Park, and she broke Twitter earlier this month when she landed the April cover of the U.K. Sunday Times style magazine.

“Honestly … I feel like I’ve done a lot, but I still feel like I have a long way to go,” said Marley, who grew up in Miami, Los Angeles and South Orange, New Jersey. “I don’t feel like I’ve done enough, honestly. Maybe I’m in a little bit of a rush, and not appreciating enough. But I still feel like I could be doing better. I feel like I need to go a bit more in-depth, showing who I am and stepping out on my own,” Marley continues, her Jersey twang coming through.

As a little girl, Marley wanted to be Lauryn Hill. Who wouldn’t? If your mom was the neo-soul legend who killed them softly with her melodic lead voice of The Fugees in the early ’90s, you’d want to be her too. But Marley said that yearning caused some strife, at least internally.

“When I was younger, my mom was a huge icon for me,” Marley said. “I was always, like, ‘Yo … if I could be like my mom, that’s lit.’ And it wasn’t necessarily in a music way — just like, her essence. My mom is like a powerful woman. But the thing is, I still had a lot of love for music, and I had a little self-doubt, like, ‘I don’t think I am as good as my mom.’

“I’m not trying to necessarily copy my mom; it’s in my DNA … it’s been passed down to me. I think she’s one of the greatest. But now, the funny thing is, I know who I am, but I was still like, ‘Yo – that’s Lauryn Hill; that’s my mom.’ ”

No doubt, Hill had made her mark. Following the release of her full-length debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the baby-faced Jersey girl was one of 17 black figures on Time magazine’s cover throughout the 1990s (out of 525 covers). Only five — including Bill Cosby, Bill T. Jones, Toni Morrison and Oprah Winfrey — worked in arts and entertainment. Hill was the only musician. She was just 23.

“When I do things like model or sing, it’s always, ‘There’s Lauryn’s daughter,’ ” Marley said. “Yes, Lauryn Hill is my mom. When people say that, they’re thinking a certain way — and they’ve already put you in a box, and now I have to fit into your box. It creates a little friction, but I’ve gotten over that.

“It is what it is; I try to embrace it. I’m like, ‘Yo, these gifts have been passed down to me.’ Everyone has gifts — but I got some special gifts passed down to me, from both my parents. I now have a chance to show who I am. I’m totally here for it.”

Marley maintains that her mom is her No. 1 fan and partner-in-career. When the calls come in and the offers are made, it’s Hill whose brain gets picked first — usually via text. An admitted phone-aholic whose guilty pleasure is Instagram, Marley just completed her freshman year at New York University, where she is enrolled in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She enjoyed the freedom to create her own curriculum, where her studies focused on showing the link between science and spirituality and how all religions connect.

(L-R) Lauryn Hill and her daughter Selah Marley celebrate Lauryn Hill’s birthday at The Ballroom on May 26, 2015, in West Orange, New Jersey.

Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

But as her fledgling modeling career gained momentum, it became harder to manage school and career.

“I enjoy learning,” she said. “It’s a gap year. I just needed to go through my freshman year to know that I needed a gap year.”

Her parents, who have five kids together (including Marley), have her back, providing support and love in their own respective ways. From dad, she said, she gets structure and foundation. From mom, she gets compassion and understanding.

“My dad is more direct, whereas my mom is a little more abstract,” Marley explained. “I think there’s always going to be one energy that’s a little bit more influential, but I definitely try to take from both of them because they bring so much to the table for me. But … my dad? My dad does not play.”

At the end of 2016, when she was invited to walk the Chanel pre-fall show in Paris, dad called to check in and heard his daughter complain about having to find her own way — and being alone. When dad asked her why she was alone, she admitted that she had missed a flight.

“I said, ‘There you go,’ ” said Rohan Marley, who made his mark as a football player at the University of Miami and is now an entrepreneur and founder of Marley Coffee. “I told her that things are going to be expected of you, no matter who you are or where you come from. There’s a timing to everything, so if you’re going to do this, you’re going to have to respect the work, the process and why you’re doing it. It’s the way you carry yourself. Some people carry their football everywhere they go; you have to carry this career with you and be humble about it.”

At 5 feet, 3 inches tall, Selah, whose name was given to her by her grandmother Rita Marley, worries little about fitting the mold — and is instead working to create her own lane.

“I’ve been lucky,” Marley said. “Fitting the mold wasn’t something that I was consumed with. That was all the more reason to expand on this other side of myself. If I’m using my platform to show more of myself, not just as a model, other opportunities are going to come, and I’m seeing that happen now.”

If you could be any athlete — past or present — who would you be?

I think I would be Serena Williams, because she’s done so much. She’s such a powerful woman. I love what she’s done as a black woman in America. I thank her; I appreciate her and I thank her. And she’s dope.

You come from a rich musical family. How do you find out about new music, and what do you like?

I find out about music from different people. I’ll hear a song, and it’ll catch my ear and I’ll be like, ‘Oooh! I need this song.’ When I heard ‘3005’ by Childish Gambino, I was like, ‘Oh my God! What song is this?’ I OD’d on it. I just fell in love with his music.

What’s your favorite Lauryn Hill song, and why?

I don’t know all of her Fugees stuff; I know her more as a solo artist. I would say her song ‘I Get Out’ — off her Unplugged album — is the one. Just because that song is so liberating and has such a deep message. It’s just all about freedom.

What about your grandfather — Bob Marley?

I would have to say ‘Natural Mystic,’ ‘Running Away’ and ‘Redemption Song.’

‘Natural Mystic’ — because it basically speaks of that unseen world.

I love ‘Running Away’ because the message is clear: ‘You can run, but you can’t run away from yourself. You can’t hide from yourself.’ And ‘Redemption Song’ just speaks to looking at yourself in the mirror, and forgiveness.

What does Undefeated mean to you?

Undefeated to me … it’s like chasing your dream and not taking no for an answer. People may pull you down, but you don’t let that take you over. It’s always being able to overcome.

Bob Marley’s call for peace for Jamaica at the ‘Third World Woodstock’ The One Love Peace Concert attempted to bring calm and political unity to a country in turmoil

Chris Blackwell recalls, with pinpoint vividness, the moment Bob Marley walked into his London office. It was 1972, and Marley, along with fellow Wailers bandmates Peter Tosh and Bunny (Livingston) Wailer, found themselves stranded after being invited to go to Sweden to do music for a film that had fallen through. The musicians, down and out, had just enough money to get from Stockholm to England. With no way to get home to Jamaica, their ultimate destination, they connected with Blackwell through a friend and requested a meeting. Blackwell, then a 35-year-old budding music and entertainment mogul, was interested, of course, in meeting the young musicians. As the founder of Island Records, which he started at age 22, Blackwell had a huge hand in popularizing Jamaican music that eventually became known as ska. He’d even released some of the Wailers’ early records, including “Bend Down Low,” as well as their first record, “Judge Not,” which was produced by Leslie Kong, in Jamaica.

But he’d never met the lads — and didn’t exactly know what to expect. “They all struck me as special,” recalled Blackwell, who was working with Toots and the Maytals, the Jamaican group that brought the word “reggae” to the world with their 1968 single “Do the Reggay.” “I got this call to say they were stranded — yet when they came into my office, they came in a way like princes: They had a strong personality, a strong sense of self. They were impressive. I was immediately enamored with them.” Call it happenstance, or even serendipity, but the meeting couldn’t have come at a better time for Blackwell, and for the Wailers. Blackwell had lost his main Jamaican reggae artist, Jimmy Cliff, who had decided to leave Island Records to sign with EMI just a week before.

“At that period and time, I was very involved with rock music and not so involved in the day-to-day Jamaican music anymore,” Blackwell said. The Wailers needed Blackwell, and Blackwell needed the Wailers.

The rest, as they say, is history — beautiful, soulful history. A few months after that chance meeting, Blackwell found himself in Jamaica and in a studio with the Wailers, who played him Catch a Fire, their 1973 LP and first album released by Blackwell’s Island Records. It was the start of a lifelong friendship, as Blackwell would co-produce virtually all of Marley’s classic ’70s albums and contribute to his appeal to a worldwide audience.

“My experience with him was nothing but great,” reflected Blackwell, now 79. “We never had an argument, never had a misunderstanding. He always kept his word on everything. He led by example. He was a natural leader. Bob was always the first one on the bus. That was totally unique. I’d never seen that before. He was very understated and didn’t make a lot of noise. He just had that kind of aura.”

One Love, One Heart

Jamaica was not a good place to be in the ’70s. Not for tourists, not for natives — not for anybody. The island known for its nice vibes and white-sand beaches ran amok with gangs, drugs, violence, corruption and political upheaval. The leaders on both sides, Prime Minister Michael Manley of the People’s National Party (PNP) and Edward Seaga of the rival Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), had little in common — save for disdain for each other. Manley was aggressively opposed by the CIA and American business interests, and by 1974 he was opposed by the more conservative, Harvard-educated Seaga, whose previous life included time as a music producer and promoter. Things came to a head when the two politicians hired local gangsters to help them increase their hold on power.

A street view of Kingston , Jamaica, in 1974.

Dick Loek/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Marley found himself in the middle of this concrete jungle when, in 1976, he was almost killed two days before he was to perform at Smile Jamaica, a public concert organized by Manley. A bullet passed through Marley’s elbow; his wife, Rita, had a bullet removed from her head. Marley played the concert but left immediately afterward for two years of self-imposed exile in London and the Bahamas.

“After his 1976 attack, he took off and went to the Bahamas,” said Neville Garrick, Marley’s longtime graphic designer and stage manager best known for creating the artwork for many Marley album covers. “He’d only come in [to Jamaica] for a day or two, and then he’s gone. So I think that even after the attack, he felt funny about the vibes in Jamaica for himself at that time.”

The need for peace, something the Smile Jamaica show attempted to bring about, stayed on everyone’s mind. Ironically enough, the idea for a proper peace concert would come from two gangsters from rival political factions: Claudius “Claudie” Massop (who repped the JLP) and Aston “Bucky” Marshall (PNP), who jointly decided that the best means to bring the country together was through music. And Marley, it was decided, would be the person to headline the show — and the movement.

“I know for sure that the whole idea stemmed from political people who knew Bob, and they all met up on mutual ground in England and said, ‘Let’s do something to bring some peace to the community,’ ” recalled Stephen “Cat” Coore, one of the founding members of the band Third World. “Things had been rough in the community. There had been a lot of political warfare. But that was what the plan was: to have this concert and bring some peace to the community,” continued Coore, who played bass for Marley during Smile Jamaica.

The poster for the One Love Peace Concert

With Marley on board, momentum for the One Love Peace Concert grew. Those close to Marley say the musician felt a calling, not even two years after he was almost killed, to be his country’s messenger of peace. He also felt no fear.

“In a strange way, he did feel a calling,” Coore said. “He felt that there were certain things he wanted to do, and he was a man with a plan. When the time came to go to Zimbabwe on [April 17, 1980] to support the revolution there, he was the one guy who didn’t run off the stage when the tear gas was thrown. He realized what his presence could do to make the whole event happen. That concert was another top moment in Bob’s life.”

Returning home from England for the One Love Peace Concert, Marley received a hero’s welcome, something he didn’t anticipate. “I was 10,” recalled son Ziggy, now 48. “It was a big crowd at the airport, and it was so crowded and hectic, they had to pull me through the car window to get me into the car. It was a very exciting time. It was like … like Jamaica was about to change.”

Garrick recalled: “It was, basically, ‘Bob is home!’ There was a whole heap of men in the yard — from both sides. Everybody come fi check Bob. We started working with the peace committee … there was press that came. International press, too. I remember one thing Bob tell them: ‘Rasta don’t go left, Rasta don’t go right — Rasta go straight ahead.’ It just [goes] to show you that Bob was drawing a line to say, ‘I’m behind the church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church — not on any particular side.’ ”

Billed as the “Third World Woodstock,” the One Love Peace Concert — on April 22, 1978 — attracted more than 30,000 people to the National Stadium in Kingston. The performers included rude boy Jacob Miller, Peter Tosh (who, Garrick recalls, berated political leaders sitting directly in front of him for their positions against legalizing marijuana) and, of course, Marley, who took to the stage just after midnight.

“The vibe was great, the whole vibe of the concert,” recalled Blackwell, who was in the crowd. “It was really sort of encouraging because the purpose of the concert was to try to get these politicians to work together rather than being at war. You have to remember, the political violence had damaged Jamaica badly — which really sort of started in the early ’70s, and now we’re in 1978 — so it had been going on for seven, eight years.

“People didn’t want to go to Jamaica. Jamaica was like South Sudan is today. It was affecting everybody, the overall negativity. Clearly, the public was sick to death of it. It took Bob really to be able to have the clout to get the leaders of the two parties to actually come together … nobody else could have gotten them to do that.”

Manley and Seaga were both in attendance — not sitting together, of course, but in the same place, sending a clear message to the country that a coming-together movement had begun.

Bob Marley and The Wailers perform while they have Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley (far left) and his political opponent Edward Seaga (third from left) on the stage during the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, Jamaica.


Marley performed and didn’t disappoint, singing some of his biggest hits at the time. But it was during his performance of “Jammin’” that the show became something bigger — when Marley brought Manley and Seaga up to the stage in the ultimate gesture of unity.

“He called them up, [and] Seaga came up quick,” Garrick recalled. “I think it forced Michael’s hand. Seaga was on stage a good minute and a half before Michael [came up]. One came [from] stage right, the other [from] stage left. The pictures will tell it — the stage was full of people.

“They swarmed — at least 50 people on stage. The thing [Bob] was trying to say was: ‘OK, here are the two men you’re fighting over. We put them together. Now we’re calling for peace. If these two men can come together peacefully, then surely you can as well.’ It was very symbolic.”

Added Cooke: “That whole thing about how Bob got Michael Manley and [Edward] Seaga to come up on stage to shake hands was just Bob [saying], ‘This is what we’re gonna do to bring some peace to the community.’ Things had been rough in the community.”

So Much Trouble In the World

After that epic concert, there was a period of calm — even somewhat of a truce among warring communities in and around Kingston, including Tivoli Gardens, Arnett Gardens and Trench Town. But a short two and a half years later, in October 1980, Jamaica would have one of its most violent elections. Seaga’s JLP would emerge victorious and the balance of power switched hands.

“The fact that Jamaica had a tremendously violent election … doesn’t mean that the Peace Concert was a failure,” said Third World’s Coore. “The Peace Concert was a victory in a lot of ways. We’ve never really had that kind of volatility since those times. I still believe that whole era of the Peace Concert was a great period for Jamaica because people put their money where their mouth was and musicians stepped up to the plate.”

Bob Marley performs during the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, Jamaica.

Adrian Boot

Added Blackwell: “Calm wasn’t instantly achieved, but [the show] broke what was a deadlock where there was no hope of anything being achieved.” Blackwell is currently promoting the One Love Marley Musical he produced that’s showing in Birmingham, England, and the One Love Peace Concert is a vital part of the story. “[That concert] did change things. After that, it quieted down. It didn’t quiet down to nothing, by any means, [but] that concert was the thing that caused people to change.”

Some 45 years after Marley, Tosh and Wailer walked into Blackwell’s office with dreams of making an impact on the world with music, a reflective Blackwell finds himself looking back on a life that could have been saved, not needlessly cut short by cancer, at 36 years of age.

“The whole thing of Bob passing was just really a tragedy, a disgrace in a sense,” Blackwell lamented. “Nobody, absolutely nobody — from he himself, people close to him, to those who worked with him after that period, including myself — never mentioned anything to him about having regular checkups to see if there were any negative effects from the [soccer] accident he had on his toe. We did know that he was advised to have it amputated, and he didn’t want to do that because he loved soccer — 98 percent as much as he loved music. The thought that if he had his toe cut off he would no longer be able to play soccer in the same way, without the agility with his foot.

“It’s a disgrace that all of us involved were not on him all the time to make sure he had checkups, and that really what happened. Nobody did anything, and when it happened it was too late, had spread too much, and there was nothing that could be done.”

Marley’s oldest daughter with Rita adds perspective: “You know what, Daddy was pretty strong in wanting to make a difference — not just in his life and his children’s life, but in the world,” said Cedella Marley, 49. “As corny as that might sound, he really believed he could do it. I think now, him seeing what’s happening, I think he should feel very accomplished.

“The good thing about Daddy is his message is more relevant today than 30, 40 years ago, and that’s powerful. That’s what I still admire about my dad.”

Bob Marley’s grandson Skip is making a ‘Life’ on the music scene Asked about his style, the son of Cedella Marley says, ‘It’s in the DNA’

If you get a free moment — make that a good 30 minutes — to comb YouTube for vintage Bob Marley interviews, you’re likely to see a guy who is fairly pleasant, soft-spoken and most definitely unapologetic. You’ll also see that Marley wasn’t fond of doing interviews. Friends close to the man who earned the nickname “Tuff Gong” as a rude-boy teenager growing up in Kingston, Jamaica’s Trench Town, will tell you he had no ego — and hated talking about himself.

During one such interview, a reporter asks Marley, Are you a rich man?” Marley, taken aback by the question, answers, “When you [say] rich, what you mean?” The reporter, as reporters do, asks the question a second time, but a different way: “Do you have a lot of possessions … a lot of money in the bank?” That’s when Marley lets him have it: “Possession make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.”

You can tell that Skip Marley, the legend’s grandson — whose mother is Cedella, Bob’s oldest daughter with his wife, Rita — has studied his grandfather in every way. Only 20 years old and green in the music game, Skip Marley’s answer to the question about his musical style, reminiscent of Bob Marley, couldn’t have been better.

“I think it’s in the DNA, you know?” the youthful-sounding musician said. “I can’t even explain it any other way.”

Based on that answer alone, the kid has a bright future. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in Miami, the music bug bit Skip Marley early — and he bit back, teaching himself to play the piano, drums, guitar and bass.

“Possession make you rich? I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.” — Bob Marley

In 2015 he released his first single, “Cry to Me,” and a second single called “Life” under the Tuff Gong label, showing off a smooth and raspy sound that’s oh-so-undeniably Marley. He later signed with Blue Mountain Music and joined his much-more-famous uncles Damian and Stephen on their Catch a Fire tour. In a family blessed with abundant talent, Marley said he feels no pressure to outdo anyone — even as journalists pepper him with the “carrying on his grandfather’s legacy” question ad nauseam.

“There’s no pressure,” said Marley, whosigned to Island Records this year and released his debut single, “Lions,” in February. “It’s within us. We have each other: my uncles, my mother. We’re in good hands, with the past.”

Already known in Jamaica, Marley hit the national scene earlier this year when he performed at the 59th Grammy Awards, singing “Chained to the Rhythm,” a song he co-wrote with Katy Perry.

Recording artists Skip Marley (L) and Katy Perry perform onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS

“The Grammys was a great experience,” said Marley, who turns 21 in June. “To be up there with Katy Perry, who is very conscious, spreading the word to the masses on such a stage, it was really great. But my biggest performances … I actually have two, were the Hollywood Bowl with my uncles Ziggy and Stephen, celebrating my grandfather’s 70th birthday, and a show in Jamaica on my grandfather’s birthday where I closed the show. That was a nice vibe, with everybody being there. That was special.”

Of his genre, Marley hesitated to put himself in a box.

“It’s just music, still, you know?” Marley said, his Jamaican accent coming through. “It’s just the inspiration. It stems from the roots, of course. But it has all types of new branches, you know?”

Marley said his summer will likely include a tour and other to-be-named collaborations. But his immediate plans include prepping for the inaugural Kaya Fest, a show on April 22 in Miami whose lineup is a who’s who of Marleys — including Stephen, Ziggy, Damian and Ky-Mani — and other familiar names on the reggae scene, including Sean Paul and Inner Circle.

“Performing with my family is special,” said Marley, who is a month from earning his associate degree in business from Kaplan University. “At a certain age you realize the impact that my grandfather had on the world, and my family continues to carry the torch.”

Understanding his own role in that family dynamic, Marley mentions his biggest support, his mother, revealing that the first song he ever wrote had to have her blessing.

“Definitely … she’s been backing me 220 percent, you know?” Marley said of Cedella Marley, whose own musical career goes back to the ’80s, when she was a staple in the family group Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, headlined by her brother.

“He’s a good kid,” said the proud mom, who also has fashion designer, actress and entrepreneur among her titles. “To see him find his own voice while being fearless but still guarded is really nice to see as his mom.”

Asked what he might ask his famous grandfather if he had the opportunity, Marley’s answer was as thoughtful as the legend might’ve been.

“I’d ask him to come on the stage and come sing with me,” he said. “That would be the first thing I’d ask, you know? I would have to watch and learn. I’d be in class, you know? Up close and personal.”

Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s daughter, has a passion for protecting the family name and her country’s soccer team The music icon’s daughter stepped up when she learned Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz soccer team was about to fold

It’s spring break, but Cedella Marley is far from chillin’. Between shuttling her 14-year-old son to basketball practice and keeping her fingers on the pulse of her 20-year-old son’s fledgling music career, Marley can hardly find time for herself to think.

“But it’s fun,” said Bob Marley’s oldest daughter with his wife, Rita. “I can’t complain. It’s been a lot, but it’s been very gratifying.”

Marley has so many jobs and roles, the singer-dancer-fashion designer-mom-actress-entrepreneur brings to mind the hardworking fictional Jamaican family, the Hedleys, made famous on the ’90s sketch comedy series In Living Color.

But Cedella Marley’s work life is far from a joke. As the Marley brand has grown worldwide she has grown with it, keeping her eyes and ears peeled and making sure that the Marley name is not compromised, abused or misused.

“I was just getting off [the phone] with our trademark lawyers,” said Cedella, who is CEO of The Bob Marley Group of Companies. “There’s a company that calls themselves ‘Three Little Birds’ and they’re using lyrics on their T-shirts. You will find people who will try to go around you using the marks, and it’s costly to fight everything that just pops because [as] you get one now, 10 other ones pop up — so you have to pick and choose your battles,” she explains. “Sometimes it’s a phone call. You don’t always need a lawyer — I can actually make those calls — it’s just that people don’t always believe it’s me on the phone, so then I have to get the lawyer to write a letter to tell them that it really was me (laughs).”

With so many careers and offshoots of the brand, it’s close to impossible to control or manage everything — and everyone. “[The brand] has grown from when I was 19 till now,” she said. “This year I’m going to be 50, so it’s been a long time since I’ve been doing this. I tell my kids, ‘You know I’m going to be 50 this year?’ And, they’re looking at me, like, what? And they say, ‘You’re supposed to be 50 — and look a different way and sound a different way.’ And I tell them, ‘I’m a Jamaican-black-woman 50; there’s a big difference.’ ”

Brother Ziggy works closely with his big sister; he’s been witness to her growth. “Cedella is integral,” said Ziggy, who is a year younger than Cedella. “She’s been doing this for a long time.”

‘They were being ignored, and … I don’t like that’


It was 2014, just another day in the life of Cedella Marley, when her son brought home a flyer he’d gotten from his soccer coach. She looked at it, and her interest was piqued. She called the coach, who happened to be Jamaican and whose daughter was an under-17 player. That was Cedella’s first encounter with the Reggae Girlz, Jamaica’s women’s national soccer team, which at the time was in danger of folding.

“They were getting ready to disband the entire team just because of the lack of funding — although we know there is funding in the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), but it’s just that the women were not being prioritized,” she said.

The Reggae Girlz had been disbanded before, in 2008, but the JFF had started a new effort to revive the program, gathering the most talented junior and senior girls to try to make a run at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This would be no easy feat. If all the stars aligned, they’d be the first women’s team from the Caribbean to qualify for a World Cup. Marley felt a calling to help; she loved the game, of course, and holds fond memories of playing soccer with her ultracompetitive dad and siblings. She jumped right in to help raise funds, lending her own personal brand to support the Strike Hard for the Reggae Girlz! campaign, which sought funds to cover the initial costs of training camps, nutrition, travel and housing for the 26-woman team.

Soccer, whether male or female, is an expensive sport; costs can hit upward of $30,000 for air and ground transportation, meals, housing and coaches just for a training camp.

“I felt very passionate about it,” Marley recalled. “They were being ignored, and … I don’t like that. They were very talented and not being given an equal opportunity. Never liked that, either, so I just jumped in and started raising some funds and awareness.”

Cedella Marly, center, poses with the Reggae Girlz, Jamaica’s women’s national soccer team.

Courtesy of Cedella Marley

While Marley knocked on doors the ladies went to work, starting in April 2014, when they trained together for the first time in six years. Barely 60 days together, the Girlz eased through the Caribbean football qualifier rounds, obliterating the Dominican Republic 7-0 and St. Lucia 14–0 en route to the Caribbean Cup in August, where they placed second to Trinidad & Tobago.

In World Cup qualifying, the Girlz continued riding their wave, trouncing Martinique 6-0 on Oct. 16. Their next match, two days later, was a 2-1 loss to Costa Rica, followed by a 3-1 letdown against Mexico on Oct. 21.

The Mexico loss was the crushing blow that halted their World Cup run, but if you’re Cedella Marley, it’s hardly the end of the world — her sights are set on 2019.

“We almost got there, as a matter of fact,” she said, sounding undaunted. “I’m just happy that we changed the narrative around women’s football — and women’s athletics, period — in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean. I was very happy with that.”

Football was very much personal for Cedella

If her effort seems to be personal, that’s because it very much is. Even though she grew up in Jamaica with the cache of being a Marley, she remembers some very unpleasant times.

“The football thing really just brought me back to a place that’s not very cool,” she said. “Even growing up as a girl child in Jamaica, when I was fat, it was, ‘Hey, fatty bum-bum.’ When I was skinny, it was, ‘How you so mawga [Jamaican for skinny]?’ It’s like you can never really please people, so you have to kinda say, ‘F— everybody’ and just try to please yourself.”

She continued: “There’s a stigma around women’s football, and it’s kind of silly, [but] I think corporate Jamaica would rather see girls in skirts, not in shorts and kicking a ball, and [would prefer to see] girls with a certain physique, and it’s a bit of body shaming too,” she said. “It’s something that I thought we had outgrown, but apparently not.”

Even with Marley championing their cause, the players, she said, had their doubts — slow to believe that somebody would support them with such vigor. “You could see that they were already broken. I remember one girl saying to me, ‘You really believe in us?’ I told her, ‘I believe in you, and it’s a real thing — a personal thing. I want to see you succeed, and I want the program to succeed.’ ”

Marley’s efforts have not gone for naught — not even close. A handful of former players in the program have done well, playing abroad in places like Israel, London, Iceland, Sweden and France. “And the head coach at Navarro College in Texas is one of our former captains,” she said, glancing at her notes.

She gets her work ethic from her parents — her “hero and she-ro,” as she calls them — and even though the Marley name is revered worldwide, Cedella still feels a sense of responsibility to keep it sacred.

“You have to remember, my dad for a long time was looked upon as this downtown ghetto boy who smokes weed and has dreadlocks. That’s what I was told in high school, that that’s my father. That’s who he is,” she said. “A certain part of me — and it could be because I’m a Virgo-Leo — that still wants to show people that he was much more than. I don’t think I have to, but I still want to.

“The good thing about Daddy is his message is more relevant today than 30, 40 years ago, and that’s powerful. That’s what I still admire about my dad — and my mom, too.”

Though in the background as one of Bob Marley’s “I Threes” backup singers, Rita Marley has quietly shepherded Bob’s legacy since his death in 1981, something Cedella doesn’t want to go unnoticed: “I don’t want us to lose how important Mummy is in all of this,” she said. “After Daddy’s dream, she was the one who made it come to reality. So let’s not forget Rita; she’s The Undefeated one, know what I’m sayin’?”