In the summer of 2015, Brandon J. McGill and his family took a trip to Jamaica and stayed at a resort in Montego Bay. With everyone busy with school, sports and work, it was the first family trip since 2005, when they stayed at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.
The best memory for McGill happened outside of the resort, when he along with his grandmother and godfather, decided to visit Bob Marley’s mausoleum located in 9 Mile Jamaica.
“I remember the 2 hours or so trip and driving up into the hills as it started to rain on roads that felt like there shouldn’t be another bus driving by us. It was crazy because the scenery was so plush, but there were no guard rails and rain, so I felt like I was more focused on that than enjoying the beauty of the surroundings,” McGill said.
The Bob Marley mausoleum is one of the top tourist attractions on the island, although not everyone forgoes a day of their all-inclusive resort to make the trek to see one of the most recognizable names of all time.
“Once we arrived the tour guide asked if anyone wanted any cannabis and said that no pictures or cigarettes were allowed during the tour, but the ganja was okay, which was pretty funny.”
The tour of the property is led by members of the Marley family, and the stories are timeless.
“The climax of the trip, of course, was having my picture taken next to where Bob Marley is buried and just being in the presence of his spirit. It was at this point I knew at some point I would make music and my name would have Marley in it,” McGill added.
Brandon aka Basquiat Marley is also heavily influenced by one of the greatest artists, Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was an American artist of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent who was apart of the New York City creative scene in the 80’s.
“I was drawn to Basquiat based on the pure creative expression his art represents as it blends perfectly with an acute awareness of society and his place in it.”
In May 2017, Untitled, a 1982 painting by Basquiat sold for $110.5 million, which made it one of the most expensive paintings ever purchased and the highest for an American artist.
October 2017 just a few months after this sale, McGill dressed up as Basquiat for Halloween.
“For me it was just a subtle way to pay homage and to also adopt some of his creative energy to embed into my projects. It’s like when actors take on roles and then they become the role, I look at life as a movie and based on what I want to create for mine, Basquiat is someone I study a lot.”
Once McGill arrived in Bali he decided for the first week or so he would finally sit down and give painting a try, just to see what would come out.
“I have always wanted to paint, but was always busy with basketball, so sitting down and painting was very therapeutic and it got my mind working in a new way and the desire to become an artist was sparked. However, I have always watched movies and read stories about artists, such as writers, painters or musicians who are very creative, but never have any money. Money isn’t everything, but it’s a very important tool to shape your life and others, so my focus since then has been to build out tech companies and I have been in Bali for almost 2 years and haven’t painted since that first week.”
But now after scaling one of his companies to 6 figures in its first year with his partner Danique Sipkes, he is ready to see express himself sonically as Basquiat Marley.
“Music has been apart of my life since I was a kid and I think I have pretty good taste in music, but as in other areas of my life I am transitioning from consumer to producer, so I am ready to create some music and will carry the energy of Bob Marley & Jean-Michel Basquiat with me,” McGill replied.
Now we will wait to see how the experiences of Brandon J. McGill sound as Basquiat Marley.
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