Thursday, July 22, 2010

Damian 'Jnr Gong' Marley - Welcome To Jamrock


Barely two years old when his father died, Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley grew up in the shadow of his Bob's reputation and the fanatical following he inspired around the world.  His youngest son could well have turned out to be another spoilt underachiever living on the reputation of his parents (like so many).  But if anything is true, it's the opposite.

A musical force in his own right, Damian turned the collateral of having a famous father into a spectacular Grammy-winning career.  Performing since the age of 13, he's a reflection of the Marley clan's many talents, his speciality being a toaster (and not the baddies from Battlestar Galactica either - how's that for a geek-fact). 

On Welcome To Jamrock, he continues updating the traditional Jamaican template to include samples, beats and sounds more associated with hip hop than with reggae but with such great effect it won him two Grammys on the same night, something no reggae artist has ever previously done. 

Now, if you like reggae and hip hop, this is absolutely a must have.  Every track, from the opener political manifesto of Confrontation to the more personal Beautiful (for the ladeez) and the genre blurring tracks Pimpas Paradise (featuring The Roots Black Thought) and Road To Zion (featuring Nas) are just brilliant.  In fact, there is not a dud track on this record, as far as I'm concerned. 

I like this album so much, I'd love to call it a Forgotten Gem.  Problem is I play it too much so I'm not likely to forget it.  For me, it is truly one of the greatest albums of this genre and well in line to be one of THE albums of the decade. (Mine says: And there's a great example of how different our tastes can be sometimes.)



I have a confession to make.  I don't like reggae music.  Oh sure, I'll sing along to some old Bob Marley or Peter Tosh, but generally it's not really my thing.  You know the quote about golf being a good walk spoiled?  I think reggae's some good music spoiled.  (YourZ sez: and yet you love ska - what gives?)

Notwithstanding Damian's stellar lineage, this album just annoyed me.  There's too much shouting at me from the toasters, some of the nominal melody lines are horrifically repetetive, and then there's the matter of being able to understand what's being said or sung or shouted, which is intermittant.  And that's not because Damian doesn't know how to enunciate, it's that he chooses not to.  Or chooses to stir in that thick, gluey Jamaican accent.  Now, all power to him, Jah be with him and keep him and all that good stuff, and I'm not criticising the music or the playing or the production.  But I just can't imagine ever wanting to listen to this ever again.  Not even if you paid me.


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