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Monday, April 16, 2012

"Welcome to Jamrock"

Damian Marley - "Welcome to Jamrock" (2005)

Youngest son of Bob Marley.

The song is only half the length of the video, but this is the best audio I could find.

Damian Marley was two when his father died. He was raised in Jamaica and began performing by age thirteen. His name helped get him early recording time and top producers, but his continued success and multiple Grammy awards are due to his hard work and talent. This song won a Grammy, and so did the album it opened. These were the second and third Grammy awards that Damian had won. He beat Gorillaz and Mos Def among others that year.

This song was produced by Damian's half brother Stephen Marley. He dug back to the early 80s to find a track to sample so that Damian could rap over it. That bold reuse of an almost complete song with new lyrical content is a hallmark of Dancehall, Reggae's often violent half brother. Artist Ini Kamoze had a huge international hit with "Here Comes the Hotstepper" in 1994. Ten years prior to that hit he released a single called "World-A-Music" with powerhouse rhythm section/producers Sly and Robbie providing the hot hook. If you listen, you can tell that Stephen Marley really did just take the rhythm of the later song in whole, and then grabbed a scene stealing line from the second verse and turned it into the final line of the chorus.

Lyrically the song is unlike most Jamaican music that makes it off island. Damian points out all that is wrong with his poor country; the violence, the corruption and the gangs and police fighting in the streets. It was this look behind the curtain that got the global music scene so interested in the song. One of the things that confused that same group of people was hearing a "Marley" rap rather than sing.

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