Jamaican reggae is inevitably linked with the name of Bob Marley, who died in 1981, when his son Damian was just two years old. The musical baton was grabbed by Damian, who started performing when he was just 13 and is known as Junior Gong, while his father was Tuff Gong. Damian formed a band called The Shephards, which fell apart in the early 1990s. From then on, he went solo, with the 1996 Mr Marley. Halfway Tree released in 2001 and won the Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2002. Welcome to Jamrock followed in 2005 and went gold very quickly, winning applause the world over and finally, a Grammy in 2006 for Best Reggae Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance. At the Grammy awards in 2009, it was revealed by Nas that he would be collaborating with Damian on an album that aimed to “build some schools in Africa with this one and try to build empowerment. We're trying to show love and stuff with this album.” Distant Relatives, as it was called when it released in 2010, debuted at number five on the US Billboard 200 chart and climbed high on other music countdowns.
And then came SuperHeavy, with its huge Indian connection. Mick Jagger announced in 2011 that it would be formed with Dave Stewart, Marley, Joss Stone, Jagger and AR Rahman – the second single called Satyamev jayate was dropped in 2001 and combines the styles of the various artistes.
The collaboration between Marley and Skrillex was also hugely successful. Stony Hill happened in 2017 and won Best Reggae Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. Marley’s music is “dancehall and reggae…Jamaican culture in general”. There is an element of going back to roots in Africa, with every song carrying a social message.
To wish Damian Marley a fabulous 41st birthday, SoundboxIndia lists five songs from his vast repertoire.
- Reach home safe
Road to Zion ft. Nas
- Living it up
- Could you be loved