Damian Marley carries on the family legacy while carving his own niche.
The world music audience on Maui will have the opportunity to welcome Damian Marley onstage as the headliner for the "Jamrock" edition of the Republik Music Festival at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Friday evening, June 14.
Marley is the only Jamaican reggae artist in history to win two Grammy Awards on the same night--in 2009 for Best Reggae Album ("Welcome to Jamrock," 2005), and for Best Urban/Alternative Performance, the first time a reggae artist has won this award.
"Welcome to Jamrock," combining dancehall and hip-hop with his reggae roots, was a critical and popular success for Marley. The hit single by the same name was listed as one of the Top 100 Songs of the Decade by Rolling Stone magazine.
Aside from his music successes, it's also been noted that "Junior Gong" (a nickname that refers to his father's (Bob Marley) "Tuff Gong") is the Marley son who may best capture the spirit of his father's legacy in his outrage at the real-life hardships in Jamaica--the chronic poverty, political strife and crime. For him, music is a form of social commentary, and an introduction to the true sound and soul of Jamaica.
"We have a message in the music and we hope that people listen, not just to dance, but also to think, some kind of improvement can come from dat," said Marley (Jamaica Gleaner, December 2006).
Damian carries the legacy of the Marley name, but not lightly.
"'Welcome to Jamrock' may be the best album any son of Bob Marley has ever made but Unlike his tenement-yard-raised father, the youngest Marley is an Uptown rebel with sympathies for the downtrodden, a Che Guevara for a Viacom world," Jeff Chang wrote in his review in Spin magazine.
Damian Marley is a self-proclaimed spiritual revolutionary: "To see the sufferation sick me" / Dem suit nuh fit me" (lyrics from Jamrock).
As a songwriter, music producer and rapper, Damian has strived to carve his own niche, and adds a new perspective to the Marley legacy for the 21st century. The music has been classified as reggae, dancehall, hip-hop, reggae fusion and/or ragga, but Marley describes his music as dancehall and reggae.
"I've noticed... people trying to separate the two of them," he said in an interview in the Gleaner. "It's Jamaican culture in general. I don't try to classify or separate."
This "Jamrock" edition of the Republik Music Festival is presented by BAMP Project, and also features Santigold, an artist in her own right with a huge following, and Ghetto Youths Crew, a group of gifted young artists from the Marley family's Ghetto Youths International record label.
The concert will be held outdoors; gates open at 5 p.m. and the show starts at 6 p.m.