“Hip-hop, more so than any other genre, embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship,” former A&R exec Tayyib Smith told CNN Money while discussing his new Institute of Hip Hop Entrepreneurship. One might argue this entrepreneurial spirit was already alive and well in the Jamaican dub reggae and Jamaican style “toasting” from which hip-hop traces its origins. Thus, it is not surprising that the most recognizable family in reggae is keeping its progenitor’s legacy alive through enterprise.
The family of Bob Marley recently reunited for their first photo shoot in over ten years. The shoot was organized by GQ Style for their debut issue and features some of Marley’s sons, daughters and grandsons in the fashion world’s finest threads.
“This is a family. Whatever we are is the same way we grow up—nothing has changed, really. Each individual role is important.” says Bob’s firstborn, Ziggy, who does not see himself as the family patriarch. That leadership role is played by Bob’s daughter, Cedella, the CEO of Tuff Gong International.
“Whatever business ventures we get into, I’m the one who has to deal with whoever we partner with on a day-to-day basis.” Cedella explained. The Marley Empire includes a Mellow Mood beverage, coffee, children’s books, and other merchandise from clothing to lava lamps capitalizing on Bob’s likeness.
Of course, even the most casual fan knows about Bob Marley’s “herbalist” roots, so timing is great for the family to come together and make sure they are fully prepared to capitalize on opportunities arising from the increasingly legit marijuana industry. After a recent licensing agreement with Privateer Holdings (backed by tech visionary Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund) to bring Marley-branded marijuana to the legalized market, the Marley Natural product line debuted this year.
“If my father was here physically, he would be up front advocating for this plant, so we are very proud to put our Marley Natural brand out there.” said Bob’s son Steven.
Marley Natural currently offers four varieties of cannabis tailored to meet needs from anti-inflammatory applications to a “full-body experience” in markets where possession is legal. Other products include lotions and soaps made with hemp seed oil, available even where legalization has not yet come to pass.
Legalized marijuana is already a multi-billion dollar business, and it will get bigger as more places weaken or eliminate laws restricting possession for personal and/or medical use. Marley Natural is preparing for market expansion.
“We are absolutely preparing ourselves for when [marijuana] is completely legalized,” coffee business owner Rohan Marley, another of Bob’s sons, revealed in past comments. “My father was the first entrepreneur in the family. He started his own record label, his own restaurant. He knew that, in order to give something back to the people, he had to create. You can’t be no philanthropist, no Warren Buffett, unless you make something first.”