Damian Marley

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Connor Casner and Willow Delgado wrote this for my.hsj.org—it is an example of secondary school students’ interest in writing about the Caribbean.

Damian was two years old when his father, Bob Marley, died; he is the only child born to Marley and Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976. Damian’s nickname Junior Gong is derived from his father’s nickname of Tuff Gong. Marley has been performing since the age of 13.Marley has described his music as “dancehall and reggae. I’ve noticed…people trying to separate the two of them,” he continues. “It’s Jamaican culture in general. I don’t try to classify or separate.”At age 13, he formed a musical group by the name of the Shepherds, which included the daughter of Freddie McGregor and son of Third World’s Cat Core. The group opened the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash festival. The band fell apart in the early 1990s and Damian started his solo career.

With the backing of his father’s label, Tuff Gong, he released his 1996 debut album Mr. Marley which surprised many who were unaccustomed to hearing a Marley deejaying rather than singing. Damian’s brother, Stephen Marley, was a producer and co-author for this album. His second album, Halfway Tree was released in 2001. The cover of Halfway Tree depicts him standing under the clock at halfway tree.His third album, Welcome to Jamrock was released in September 2005, named after the hugely successful song of the same name. The lyrics to the single “Welcome to Jamrock”, which was performed over a riddim produced by Sly and Robbie for Ini Kamoze some 20 years earlier, centered around poverty, politics and crime in Jamaica.

At the 2009 Grammy Awards, he won Best Reggae Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance for Welcome to Jamrock. He is the only Jamaican reggae artist in history to win two Grammy Awards on the same night. He is also the only reggae artist to win in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category at the Grammy Awards. The album sold 86,000 copies in its first week of release, and was eventually certified gold after selling 500,000 copies in the United States.Dr. Clinton Hutton, professor at the University of the West Indies, said of the single, “‘Jamrock’ uses the icon of the inner city, of alienation, of despair, of prejudice, but of hope, of Jamaican identity, to remind us of the fire of frustration, the fire of creativity, the fire of warning to open up our eyes and look within to the life we are living. And still some of us don’t want to hear and to look and say enough is enough.”

Damian Marley is one of the most inspirational artists today. On May 17, 2010, Marley released Distant Relatives, a collaborative album with Nas. The album title refers not only to the bond between the artists, but the connection to their African ancestry, which inspired the album both musically and lyrically. Although his father is missed dearly, he clearly has kept his family’s name well known and loved by many worldwide. He recently was the vocalist in the Dubstep artist Skrillex’s new song “Make it Bun Dem”. Which is an amazing cross between the two tastes of elaborate music found in today’s society, and is also one of my favorite songs.

For the original report go to http://my.hsj.org/Schools/Newspaper/tabid/100/view/frontpage/articleid/598722/newspaperid/4477/Damian_Marley.aspx

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