Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley Welcome to Jamrock

Damian "Jr. Gong” Marley builds off his Grammy win (for 2001’s Halfway Tree) with an even more solid album that leaves no doubt that he is truly the progeny of the immortal Bob and brother of Ziggy, Julian, Stephen and Ky-mani. The first single — the ubiquitous "Welcome to Jamrock” — was released earlier this year and it’s amazing to see how it’s slowly built up momentum to become a mainstream sensation. Produced by Damian and Stephen Marley, the overall album is a curious mix of edgy reggae grooves and charitable doses of R&B and hip-hop. The guest stars are truly a motley crew: Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Bobby Brown (!?!), Black Thought (from the Roots) and Nas. It’s a mix that features tracks like the acoustically driven cautionary tale "Pimpa's Paradise” coexisting with the rootsy ballad "There for You” and the sensually charged "All Night.” It’s interesting to note that Welcome to Jamrock (which deals with the growing disconnect between the "haves” and the "have-nots” in Jamaica) has stirred up a bit of controversy, mainly from those who prefer that Jamaica only be depicted as a tourist paradise. It appears that "Jr. Gong” has, along with the musical talent, picked up his father’s socio-political consciousness as well. (Universal)