Damian Marley © KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Damian Marley

PHOTOS

As Bob Marley’s youngest son, Damian “Jr Gong” Marley has taken reggae music to new levels fusing hard-hitting reality rhymes and eclectic beats.

His 1996 debut Mr. Marley awed critics and fans. His sophomore release, Halfway Tree, received the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album. But it was his third CD, 2005’s Welcome to Jamrock, that propelled Jr Gong to the forefront of today’s reggae scene. Rolling Stone said the CD “effortlessly melds Papa Bob’s righteous roots style with computer reggae, dance hall and U.S. hip-hop.”

The songs on Jamrock touch on various sides of urban life and includes smoky spiritual love ballads and nostalgic throwback jams. The song “Welcome To Jamrock” was named the reggae song of the decade by the New York Times. Marley became the first reggae artist to win a Grammy outside of the reggae category, taking home an award for Best Urban/Alternative performance for the song “Welcome To Jamrock.”

While much of Welcome to Jamrock, which also received a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, centers on the themes of poverty and political violence in his native Jamaica, it also features a universal message of hope. “These are difficult years … and this has been a year of signs and wonders and mystics. We’re in a mind opening time now — a lot of people don’t have material suffering, but spiritual suffering,” he said. “Welcome To Jamrock is about hope, and there’s still more to share. I’m still very close to the beginning.”

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