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 nattyd 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 Bobs youngest son who shares executive production credit with his big-brother Stephen Marley.
Yes, Junior samples Daddys music here and there, but theres no abundant Diddification. And while Move! uses a snippet of Bob Marleys Exodus, please believe the sample only helps make whats already good better. But its the marching Confrontation interweaving snippets of Marcus Garveys 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 couldnt 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 doesnt make, break or shift the album. Its an R&B song more dominated by Damians silky delivery than Bobbys hookwhich 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 Marleys 2002 Grammy Award winning album that no one ever heard), stands firm as a blueprint for what fusions can be if done correctly.