As his name precedes him, Damian “Junior Gong” Marley has a lot to live up to as the son of reggae great Bob Marley. Though he was only three when his father died, Damian was brought up with the deep musical traditions of the Marley family. Following his Grammy-nominated effort Half Way Tree, Damian Marley has pushed his music to even greater heights with Welcome to Jamrock.
Since many of the songs were produced and co-written by Stephen Marley, this album has the crossover reggae feel that the Marleys have become known for. It has heavy ska influences in songs like “All Night” and hip-hop influences in “Beautiful,” which he collaborated with Bobby Brown in making. However, Damian does this without sounding awkward or contrived.
The album is well crafted, especially because the heavy baselines of the songs are juxtaposed with the uplifting, raspy voice of Damian Marley. As evident in the single Welcome to Jamrock, the lyrics are rooted in present-day conscious roots, reggae and talks about the realties of Jamaican life and contemporary culture.
This album draws as easily from the rich past of modern day reggae as it does from present day hip-hop, producing an album that is grounded yet eclectic. It’s easy listening that’s enjoyable, familiar and uplifting.