Welcome to Jamrock is the smash hit of the summer. Produced by Stephen Marley & Damian Marley, album features cuts with Nas, Black Thought/Roots, Bobby Brown, Bounty Killer & Eek-A-Mouse. Universal. 2005.
Grammy winner (for 2001's Halfway Tree) Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, the youngest singing son of the immortal Bob and brother of Ziggy, Julian, Stephen and Ky-mani, has made a major splash in the family business. The confrontational title track of his third album (which entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart at Number 7, the biggest opening week ever for a reggae artist), deals with vacationing "haves" partying on the backs of increasingly desperate "have-nots." It has fomented a storm of protest from corporate entities who claim that Marley has presented his homeland (or more accurately, their interests) in a negative light. Another high point is "Pimpa's Paradise," a heartbreaker about drugs leading to prostitution, backed by a vulnerable-sounding acoustic guitar. Produced by Damian and Stephen Marley, it's an eclectic, sophisticated mix, constructed over treacherous rhythmic undercurrents, illuminated by empathy, courage and soul. A shifting kaleidoscope of classic and cutting-edge Jamaican grooves spars with R&B and hip-hop, references to Marcus Garvey, Eek-A-Mouse, and Exodus, plus guest stints from Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Bobby Brown, Black Thought and Nas. --Christina Roden