Damian Marley, the youngest of Bob Marley’s sons will be in Nairobi on the eve of Kenya’s Madaraka day for a concert at the Carnivore Gardens.
The Marley sons, despite most of them picking up from where their father left off, have had to work more than any other musician to step away from their fathers’ shadow and become artists in their own right. It has not been easy for any of them with every album release and in every concert. Not with fans using Bob’s music prowess and genius as the benchmark to judge his sons yet at the same time, hoping to hear something that gives them a sneak perhaps into Bob Marley’s re-incarnation passed on to his first generation.
Whilst most hail Ziggy as the closest to his father in terms of vocal prowess, style and message, unlike his younger half brother, he has not dared to venture beyond the style and messaging that defined his father’s career. The same cannot be said of Damian though. One would attribute this to the sibling responsibility, perhaps the weight fell more on Ziggy’s shoulders to carry on the father’s legacy which gave Damian more wiggle room to experiment. And experimenting he did.
Damian has described his style as Reggae fusion and has fused his music with elements of dancehall and hip hop.
Although artists have been mixing reggae with other genres from as early as the early 1970s, no official term had been used to describe this practice. Artists such as UB40 were described using terms that joined the various genres they performed (e.g. reggae funk, reggae pop, reggae-disco). It was not until the late 1990s when the term was coined.
Damian’s third studio album Welcome to Jamrock was the start of a musical relationship fusion between two great artists who epitomize the best of Hip Hop and Reggae genres. The song Road to Zion is a collaboration between Damian and Nas (Nasir Jones). This was the genesis of a 2 year project among 2 distant relatives that would culminate in a Reggae Hip Hop album 5 years later.
This album is of great significance to us as Damian’s African fans. Not only was it paying homage to black pride and the shared heritage between Nas and Damian, it is an ode to their motherland – Africa. Perhaps the songs that bring this love full circle are Patience a collaboration that samples Amadou and Miriam’s song Sabali which means Patience and Africa Must wake up featuring K’Naan. Amadou & Miriam are couple musicians from Senegal in West Africa. K’Naan is a Somali Canadian poet, rapper and songwriter.
In an interview with a Washington Post correspondent during a panel discussion at the National Geographic Society, Nas had this to say
“We have a common interest in Africa, but it wasn’t like we came into it with that in mind. But once we started working on the music, it kinda took on that form.”
In “Distant Relatives,” the artists top Marley’s music with everything from political commentary on Africa (“Africa Must Wake Up”) to fiery verbal sparring (“As We Enter”). That the fusion works is not only a testament to the men’s skill, but evidence of reggae and hip-hop’s sonic and social commonalities.
Hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang outlines the intertwined histories of hip-hop and reggae in his book “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop,” which covers everything from the influence of American radio on Jamaican music in the ’40s and ’50s to the emergence of hip-hop that began with Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc in the early 1970s. Chang believes that for hip-hop and reggae artists to explore their ties to Africa is a natural progression. “Here are two artists interested in pushing the edge to really take it out there,” Chang says of “Distant Relatives.” “With artists like K’Naan and M.I.A., there’s a global context now — in order for all art forms to move forward, you have to have someone like Nas or Damian Marley to step up and push the edge.”
Indeed the lyrical prowess and depth of consciousness from the two artists comes through beautifully in every song in the album from As we Enter, to patience to Africa Must wake up.
Damian Africa Tour
Although the Distant Relatives album was dedicated to Africa with the proceeds going to building schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the duo was never able to kick off an African tour of the Album despite plans for one back in 2013.
Damian is currently in South Africa as part of his African tour with two shows in Durban and Jo’burg happening over this weekend. His Kenya concert is organised by Cornerstone Entertainment for Wednesday 31st May. He will finish his African tour in Jamaica’s mecca – Ethiopia before continuing his tour in the rest of the world.
As Damian’s fans across Africa catch a close up glimpse of him and as sing along to his music, it will be the lyrics of the song Patience / Sabali coming to life
The song’s hook goes, “Sabali, Sabali, Sabali, yonkontê Sabali, Sabali, Sabali, kiye Ni kêra môgô”. The whole phrase means “Patience, Patience, Patience, it’s what the world is about. Patience, Patience, Patience, let’s all join souls”.
Advance tickets are going for Ksh. 1,500 for regular and Ksh. 4,000 for the VIP. Tickets are available on mi-ticket or via Mpesa paybill number 578 888 for regular tickets Acc No. 1313 for the VIP tickets send to Acc No. 1313B.