Ky-mani might very well be the forgotten Marley. One of countless children of the late, great Bob, he saw his release Many More Roads nominated for a Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2001. But Ky-mani's brother, Damian Marley, walked away with the award.
"It is a blessing and a curse being a Marley. My case was totally different than my brothers. I grew up in Miami, 22nd Avenue and 90th Street. That's the heart of the ghetto," says Ky-mani. "Man, I seen a lot of crazy stuff growing up in Liberty City. The crackheads sitting right there in front of you, smoking crack all the time.... People think that I gotta follow in my dad's footsteps because I'm a Marley. I can carry on his legacy, but I gotta express it on my own terms."
It is surprising, then, that the 31-year-old will be opening for rock giant Van Halen on its highly anticipated reunion tour this fall. "I'm definitely excited about going out on the road for a little with Van Halen; it is a great opportunity," he says.
But it has yet to be seen if David Lee Roth's heavy-rock fans will be open-minded to Ky-mani's style of music. Some of the faithful have been waiting 22 years to hold lighters in the air and sing along to "Jump." But the prospect of playing to an empty arena while Van Halen fans drink beer out in the parking lot doesn't phase the musician — or even seem like a possibility to him. "I can play anywhere with anybody and fit in," he insists. "It don't matter how black of a crowd or how white of a crowd, how rock it is or how rap it is. I am going to surprise them; they gonna love it."
Ky-mani is confident in his new sound. "My new album is not a reggae, hip-hop, or R&B album. It's a fusion of all those things. When you hear it, you will know that's Ky-mani. The title of the album is Radio, because that's the only place where all genres of music meet," he says.
Asked why he thinks he was added to the bill, Ky-mani replies, "It came down to my manager."
We here at Miami New Times would like to see more random pairings of bands on the road together. Here are our top five choices: