Joseph “Jo Mersa” Marley embodies the spirit of his grandfather’s song “Three Little Birds.”
The free-spirited 30-year-old son of Stephen Marley approaches life in a carefree manner, and it shines through his music.
Growing up as reggae royalty, Jo Mersa started appearing on stage at 4 years old alongside Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, his aunts and uncles. Despite being a musical heir of reggae and cultural icon Bob Marley, Jo Mersa doesn’t feel pressured to make music. However, the genetic bond is a magnet for Jo Mersa to the creative art.
It’s not just his family’s music that cultivates his art. Jo Mersa listens to various genres from soul, hip-hop, trap music and other international sounds. His biggest musical influence, however, is everyday life.
“Life inspires music, and the music inspires life,” Jo Mersa told Atlanta Black Star from the balcony of his Miami condo.
The sun glistened in his eyes as Jo Mersa joked about the meaning behind his latest project and his goals for the future.
When he is not in the studio, Jo Mersa kicks back with his 5-year-old daughter. He connects with extended family through soccer, a Marley ritual.
Jo Mersa approaches his music in a carefree manner as well.
“It’s more of a go-with-the-flow routine. Sometimes I have a concept right away. Sometimes, I don’t,” Jo Mersa said. “Sometimes it all comes to me in that moment.”
His latest dancehall EP, “Eternal,” is about keeping an “everlasting vibe.” The project features “Company.” The metaphoric song plays on the word company. It compares intimate relationships and companionship to owning a business. The lyrics are fun and endearing. Listeners should hit repeat a few times to grasp Jo Mersa’s cleverness, which he displays in all of the songs featured on the EP.
“[There are] not songs that you will listen to one time,” Jo Mersa said. “You’d catch yourself listening to it more than once and listening back to the tune.”
The track “Made It” is an anthem for millennials and Gen Zers, who tend to choose entrepreneurship and multiple income streams over a routine job more than previous generations. The song is about abandoning the 9 to 5 job after a breakthrough. The upbeat rhythm combined with Jo Mersa’s melodic voice creates the worry-free mood his grandfather sang about in “Three Little Birds.”
“Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right,” the 1980 hit single by Bob Marley and the Wailers says.
Fans can also expect a mixtape from Jo Mersa before the end of the year with several surprises.
His dancehall influences include Shabba Ranks, Super Cat and Spragga Benz, and he sees dancehall’s musical journey as a cycle. The essence of legendary deejays from the past is sprinkled in today’s music, he said. Likewise, he often recognizes flows and ad-libs from old hits that translate legacies from generation to generation.
“It’s not the generation before us that’s doing it now. It’s us introducing it to our generation,” Jo Mersa said. “It comes back, always. It will be introduced in a new way. I’m sure, because the times do change.”