A New Breed of Reggae: Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley comes to Boston

Jr. Gong Marley - More than just father´s son.

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“Jr. Gong” Marley – More than just father´s son.

Paul J. Davenport


The offspring of reggae legend Robert “Bob” Nesta Marley are dominating the music world in pure Rasta fashion-ripping up the music scene with positive vibrations, once again proving they are carrying on their father’s torch with the greatest respect. His kin continue to share their father’s message of Jah, peace, love, and unity in the face of Rastafarian tough-love and worldly social changes.

The youngest son of Bob Marley is 26 year-old Damian Robert Nesta Marley. He is nicknamed “Jr. Gong”, which refers to Bob Marley’s record label legacy called Tuff Gong Records.

Damian is also referred to as “Half-Way Tree,” which is in reference to a geographic intersection in Kingston, Jamaica; the crossroads between uptown and downtown where the high class privileged intermingle with ghetto life and the poor. This is highly significant because Damian also calls his latest album Half-Way Tree, which honors this particular crossroad and his heritage. Damian’s father, Bob Marley, who was born and raised in the country ghetto of downtown Kingston, and his mother, Cindy Breakspeare, Jamaica’s 1977 Miss World from uptown, formed their relationship and gave birth to their son Damian. Damian relates to both sides of the crossroads and considers himself to be a bridge between both of these worlds.

Half-Way Tree was the first release from the most recent partnership between Motown Records and Ghetto Youths International. In 2001, Motown Records united with the Marley family through the signing of a worldwide distribution deal with Ghetto Youth International, an entertainment company founded in 1992 and run by CEO Stephen Marley and Ziggy Marley to help young upcoming artists get a start in the music business. They have promised that Ghetto Youths International will bring its industry experience and expertise to provide the latest and greatest reggae to all their listeners.

Damian is very active on his latest album, not just as a performer, but as a songwriter as well (he co-wrote the album with his step-brother Stephen Marley). The new album is a definite cross-over that appeals to modern day reggae fans while at the same time he collaborates with other well-known artists bringing some serious flavor to the album. Stars such as Bounty Killer, Bunny Wailer, Capelton, Treach from Naughty by Nature, Dragon and Eve appear on this album and many more new stars will be collaborating with the Marley family in general.

Damian is the first major artist produced through his brother’s label and had major success with his first album simply titled Mr. Marley, which deatured huge hits such as “Me Name Junior Gong” and “One Cup of Coffee.” The album’s filled with off the hook dancehall rhythms and edgy hip-hop beats that break the boundaries of traditional reggae and gives the public a serious cross-over appeal. Stephen Marley replicates his father’s voice with his own carbon-copy singing-you couldn’t tell the difference if they were singing in the same room. The success of the album secured Damian a spot in the Lollapalooza Tour in 1997 and since has created a huge fan base of followers.

The newly-released single “Jam Rock” is climbing the charts and appeals to both reggae and hip-hop fans alike, with a slamming, thug, and bouncy groove that’s so infectious that you have to push repeat on your CD player. If you want to check out Damian and older brother Stephen Marley here is your chance to jump on the reggae band-wagon. They are playing on Wednesday, April 20 at the Paradise Rock Club on Commonwealth Avenue and the show is 18. Go and check out what all the hype is about and you’re guaranteed to see an unforgettable reggae. Damian’s sing-song, dee-jay, reggae style, will pull you right in, make you move and make an instant fan out of you.

Go to thedice.com for more info on where to buy tickets or go to damianmarleymusic.com for more info on the artist.