Welcome to Jamrock

Artist: Damian MarleyTitle: Welcome to JamrockRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Danielle Cabell

The third time sounds to be a charm for roots, rap, reggae royale Damian “Junior Gong” Marley with his astounding new album Welcome to Jamrock (Universal/Motown). Months ago when the long natty’d Marley welcomed the world to Jamrock he got invited to the mainstream. The addictive Ini Kamoze sample-driven-title-track that set the airwaves ablaze is warmfire compared to the combustible “Move!” where he chants, “Babylon position the queen and set the pawn, And start transform like Deceptacon, Anytime delegates have a discrepance, Well a bare tension with some long weapons.” This aptly titled song injects ass and arm credibility to the talents of Bob’s youngest son who shares executive production credit with his big-brother Stephen Marley.

Silence haters.

Yes, Junior samples Daddy’s music here and there, but there’s no abundant Diddification. And while “Move!” uses a snippet of Bob Marley’s “Exodus,” please believe the sample only helps make what’s already good better. But it’s the marching “Confrontation” interweaving snippets of Marcus Garvey’s speech to heavy drum percussions that carries on in the spirit of what Damian is most known for, lyricism. On the militant-minded “Road to Zion” Nas brings his lyrical-sense: “Human beings like ghosts and zombies, President Mugabe, holding guns to innocent bodies.” Emcees of a feather stick together, but uncanny is

the use of Black Thought from The Roots on the bland “Pimpa’s Paradise.” A guest verse from the Philly MC is normally a blessing and a good look but even Black Thought couldn’t save this mundane oh-too-familiar story of a girl lost track.

For everyone clamoring to know about the “the Bobby Brown song”, known here as “Beautiful,” here goes. (Ahem, clearing throat.) It is a jazzy saxophone-infused, a-aight, track that doesn’t make, break or shift the album. It’s an R&B song more dominated by Damian’s silky delivery than Bobby’s hook—which sounds like vintage Bobby (give or take a cracking voice at the end).

Many try to fuse hip hop, dancehall, R&B, reggae but rarely does it work. Welcome to Jamrock, like Halfway Tree (Damian Marley’s 2002 Grammy Award winning album that no one ever heard), stands firm as a blueprint for what fusions can be if done correctly.

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