Q&A: Damian Marley talks new solo music, marijuana business

FILE - In this July 24, 2017 file photo, Damian Marley poses for a portrait during an interview in Los Angeles to promote his album, "Stony Hill." (AP Photo/Joseph Longo)
FILE - In this July 24, 2017 file photo, Damian Marley poses for a portrait during an interview in Los Angeles to promote his album, "Stony Hill." (AP Photo/Joseph Longo, File)

LOS ANGELES — Damian Marley shot the music video for his new song "Medication" in a medical marijuana farm.

The reggae singer, who is part owner of a medical marijuana company, exalts the drug's benefits in "Medication," which appears on his newly released album "Stony Hill."

It's his first solo record in 12 years, but don't call it a comeback. Marley said it's the natural next step after years working on collaboration albums.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Marley talks about managing his burgeoning cannabis career, working with Jay-Z for the first time and growing up in privileged Jamaica.

Remarks have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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AP: You're featured on Jay-Z's new album in the song "Bam." You shot some of the video in Jamaica. What was the experience like?

Marley: I'm a fan of his music, so I was honored to be invited to be a part of the album. We actually did a recording in Los Angeles. He invited me to come by the studio for a few hours, and he kind of already had an idea of what he wanted for the hook. He said, "Go ahead, freestyle and have fun on the track." ...They kind of constructed my verse using lines from my freestyle. It was a fun session, and it was cool being around him. We spent two days in Jamaica showing him around, catching visuals for the project.

AP: It's been 12 years since you released a solo album.

Marley: What's really been happening is that I've been in the studio working on other projects. I did an album with Nas called "Distant Relatives." I was part of another project called SuperHeavy, which was also featuring Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, Joss Stone and A.R. Rahman. I've been busy over the years, just not necessarily on my solo album.

AP: Can you tell me a little bit about the song "Medication"?

Marley: This song is talking about marijuana.In some of the lines its sounds like I'm speaking to a lady. But at the same time, it's really about the herb. Since it's become accepted in a lot of places, a lot more research has been done on the medicinal properties of the plant. There's a lot of great research and great promise being shown, so we wanted to highlight that in the song.

AP: Why name the album "Stony Hill"?

Marley: I choose "Stony Hill" as the name of the album to reflect my upbringing. The neighborhood I grew up in from when I was around 5-years-old to when I was around 15 or 16. It's the more privileged part of Jamaica. In the album, we're trying to speak about that journey ... my father came from the ghetto and was able to have a child like myself who was born and raised in an uptown, privileged area.

AP: You have your medical marijuana company, Stony Hill Corp. How did that come about?

Marley: Well it came about first and foremost of just being so closely involved with marijuana over the years as part of our culture. Marijuana has been such a big part of our lives even way before it was made legal in certain places. I think it's only right that we partake in the business now.

AP: Many of the new songs resonate within the American political system.

Marley: More so in a global system, which America is a part of. Nowadays when you think about the news, we're exposed to what's going on everywhere. We're not really isolated anymore. When something happens in France, or in England, or in Africa or wherever it happens, you hear about it quickly. It's us being aware of what's going on in our world today.

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Follow Joseph Longo on Twitter at https://twitter.com/josephlongo_

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