Zuri Marley is On Her Comeup

Zuri Marley is On Her Comeup

She may have an illustrious reggae pedigree, but it's not defining her burgeoning music career.

She may have an illustrious reggae pedigree, but it's not defining her burgeoning music career.

Photography: Ben Hassett

Styling: Anna Trevelyan

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

This spread appears in the pages of V112, on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazineshop.com.

“I have insomnia. Between the hours of 4 AM and 6 AM, that’s when I’m most stimulated,” says Zuri Marley of her peak creativity as an artist. “My brain can just go anywhere it wants, because I feel like I feel all of the energy of people sleeping, the emptiness, and that’s what I feed off of.”

If you told Marley that this sounded vampiric or weird, the musician and actress would take it as a compliment. Despite her lineage (Bob is her grandfather, and Ziggy her father), she marches to the beat of her own drum—a beat that veers far from reggae music, despite her family’s unshakable legacy. Instead, Marley’s currently pursuing a lo-fi electronic sound that feels ripe for evolution as she begins to share more material, of which she has plenty. November of last year, she released her debut single, “Beg for It.”

“Crazy bitches are cool. Weird people are cool,” she notes. “If you’re out there, whether that’s quiet and quirky or loud and obnoxious, or you’re flamboyant or whatever it is, just when you’re being yourself, that’s when you’re cool. Most people, when they’re being themselves, people say they’re weird. It’s like, we’re all weird as fuck. Is anybody normal?”

Despite only being 22 years young, Marley speaks with a level of nonchalance and confidence that exceeds her time here on earth, which has thus far been mostly divided between Kingston, Jamaica and New York City, where she just graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She returns to the former city often, but generally refers to herself as a nomad, having spent a great deal of time in Paris and Seattle—the latter a fairly atypical favorite—for various DJ gigs. She prefers traveling to places that feel a little off-the-grid: “I just want to experience that and live in that and work and have my mind. Sometimes it’s hard. You lose your mind in the big city. I’ve always had that city vibe, but New York is a beast for sure.”

Still, Marley’s confidence isn’t always as bulletproof as it seems. “I didn’t sing for two years, I didn’t write for two years,” she admits. “I’d go to put the pen down and it’d be like, Okay, you’re stupid. Don’t do that. Don’t do anything.” Eventually, a unique combination of time and experience has helped her fight against self-doubt, despite still occasionally feeling nervous at heart. “I always tell people I’m really the only person who can stop me. But I just keep on my own path, even if it’s slow, you know? I just breathe.”

That can be difficult when it seems like everyone has an opinion on your career’s direction. “I do encounter a lot of people who say, oh, you should do island pop, whatever that means,” she laments of the feedback she often encounters. “I’m really not taking that into consideration.” Reggae and island tunes probably have less of an impact on Marley’s life than one might assume; she recalls falling in love with music through artists like John Mayer, Tracy Chapman, No Doubt, and Kanye West—music her mom played for her as a child during three-hour drives to a Jamaican literary festival.

Currently, Marley is making new tracks, doing more acting, and generally chasing what she refers to as “more life.” She feels she’s in discovery mode, which includes exploring self-acceptance. “Everything I want to be better at, I’ve wanted to be better at,” she offers in a self-reflective moment. “Some things have worked, and some things are maybe just a part of who I am.”

ZURI WEARS CLOTHING VERSACE, JEWELRY TIFFANY & CO, ON FACE M.A.C. MINERALIZE MOISTURE SPF 15, FOUNDATION IN NC45 NAD EXTRA DIMENSION X 2 COMPACT / M.A.C. SELECT, ON EYES M.A.C. TECHNAKOHL LINER IN SUPERFLY, ON LIPS M.A.C. PLUSHGLASS IN NICE BUZZ
Credits: MAKEUP MARLA BELT (STREETERS), HAIR JOEY GEORGE (MANAGEMENT+ARTISTS), MANICURE NAOMI YASUDA (MANAGEMENT+ARTISTS), DIGITAL TECHNICIAN CARLO BARRETO, PHOTO ASSISTANTS ROEG COHEN, ERIC HOBBS, MAKEUP ASSISTANT ALEX ALMEIDA, LOCATION VSCO STUDIO

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