Reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, dead at 31

Jo Mersa Marley attends the 2014 Caribbean American Movers and Shakers at Frost Art Museum on October 10, 2014 in Miami.  (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images)

Jo Mersa Marley attends the 2014 Caribbean American Movers and Shakers at Frost Art Museum on October 10, 2014 in Miami. (Photo: John Parra/Getty Images)

Joseph Marley, the eldest son of eight-time Grammy Award winner Stephen Marley and second grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley, has died at the age of 31. The Jamaican-American recording artist and DJ, known as Jo Mersa, was found unresponsive in a vehicle on Tuesday, December 27, according to Kingston, Jamaica journalist Abka Fitz-Henley, who was the first to report report the news. Jo Mersa’s representative later confirmed the news Rolling stone. The cause of death has not been released, although South Florida radio station WZPP reported that the artist died of an asthma attack.

Born Joseph Marley on March 12, 1991 in Kingston, the third-generation Marley grew up surrounded by music, appearing on stage at age 4 with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers—his father, his uncle Ziggy, and his aunts Cedella and Sharon—at that group’s final concert. He moved to Florida at age 11, where he studied studio engineering and watched his father and uncle Damian Marley work at Stephen’s Lion’s Den studio. Joseph made his official music debut in 2010 with “My Girl”, a collaboration with his older cousin Daniel Bambaata Marley, released on the Marley family’s record label Ghetto Youths International and produced by his father. This was followed by the breakthrough track “Bad So” in 2012, his debut EP, Comfortablewill be released in 2014.

Joseph also worked with Jesse Royal, Alborosie, Farruko, Jemere Morgan, Barbara Fialho, the Grandpickneys and Morgan Heritage, appearing on the latter’s Grammy Award-winning album. Strictly rooted in 2015. But of course he often filmed with his large and talented family. Comfortable with production from both Stephen and Damian Marley, and Joseph featured on his father’s album, Revelation, Pt. 2: The fruit of life, in 2016. That same year, he collaborated with his younger brother, Yohan Marley, for the single “Burn It Down,” and the brothers joined forces again in 2020 for “Brickell (When Tears Fall),” inspired by their adopted home. city ​​of Miami. In the spring of 2022, Joseph appeared with his cousins ​​Ky-Mani and Julian Marley on Dominican music producer Maffio’s reggaeton song “Blessings”.

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Joseph often spoke of his responsibility to carry on his family’s legacy and recounted The wharf in 2014, “It’s a lot of power, influence, it’s magic, but I don’t let it go to my head. [Bob Marley] took a big step for Jamaican music and it’s time for me to add my work to it, build on it.” In a 2021 interview with Reggaeville, he reflected on his grandfather’s influence, saying, “Family-wise, you’d hear memories from my father or our cousins, you’d see them post pictures or even just talk to us in an environment that talked about ‘I remember when my dad did that.’ this or when he came from Africa or when dad did this interview or when he was in Italy.’ So we always hear these reflections, talking about those things, about the role that [Bob] played not only as a family member and father, but also in the world and the impact he had on the reggae community and reggae culture, the roots, bringing the message of Rastafari and love above all love. … It’s a family for us, it’s normal for me, but it’s still special.”

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Jo Mersa Marley performs at Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on April 22, 2017 in Miami.  (Photo: John Parra/WireImage)

Jo Mersa Marley performs at Kaya Fest at Bayfront Park Amphitheater on April 22, 2017 in Miami. (Photo: John Parra/WireImage)

Joseph’s most recent release under his name Jo Mersa was in 2021 Forever The EP, which featured collaborations with Kabaka Pyramid, Black I Am, Melii and Busy Signal, was critically heralded as his biggest step yet towards becoming his own artist. A press release for the EP acknowledged that “the status of the Marley bloodline comes with its fair share of expectations,” saying that Joseph was “keen to honor his family while maintaining his own unique sound and style … putting the work of Jo Mersa Marley apart. as a force to be reckoned with in the modern reggae scene.” In an interview with a Jamaican publication The Gleanerthe self-confessed perfectionist described the experiment Forever project, which included dubstep, dancehall, EDM, hip-hop and reggae-roots influences, as “outside my comfort zone,” and specifically said of the song “That Dream,” which was produced by his cousin Soul Marley: “Although I often had done the chorus, it took a minute to sound like it does. I would usually deejay and sing in low tones. I expect listeners to hear me do falsetto or high notes at the end of the words, so when I sing, “All I know I’d sleep at night, when I dream that dream it’s all a nightmare,” I had to keep doing it over and over again just to get it right.”

Besides his many Marley relatives, Jo Mersa is survived by his wife and daughter. In 2020, he recorded the single “Nothing’s Gonna Harm You!” for his daughter, with his father Stephen once again producing, explaining in a statement: “The inspiration for this song was mainly a message to my daughter to let her know that she will well protected because that is my job as her father.

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