When you think of reggae music, the first name that comes to mind is Bob Marley. Next, many people will consider his children – Ziggy, Stephen, Julian and Damian. Each has their own particular style and each has made a major impact on reggae music.
Damian Marley has chosen to make his mark on the dancehall scene rather than roots-rock reggae. He has a bombastic style and dramatic lyrical flow that has launched him into superstardom in the world of urban Jamaican music.
It has been 12 years since Damian Marley released his last album, “Welcome to Jamrock”, which earned him a Grammy award for best Urban/Alternative performance. In the years since, he has made many appearances on his brothers’ albums and on the works of the biggest reggae acts of the 21st century. We finally have a new album from the creative genius himself, and it is a real gem.
“Stony Hill” is pure fire. Solid from front to back, it is full of dancehall and reggae hits. Punctuated by his signature rhythmic lyrical sound, almost every song on this release is a catchy work of art. Bucking the trend of filling albums with guest appearances, it is mostly a pure Damien Marley work punctuated only by the inclusion of his brother Stephen on tracks like “Medication” and “Perfect Picture”.
One of my favorite tracks is “Time Travel”, a conscious dancehall number with catchy rhythms and lyrics expressing concern about the current state of affairs in the world: “What’s real life / What’s virtual / What’s fiction / What’s factual / Who’s partial / Who’s neutral / Who’s actin / Who’s actual / What’s cheap talk / What’s action / What’s fractioned / What’s plus or subtraction / Aquarius, then Pisces / Al Qaeda, then Isis / Stock markets in crisis / Government raise tax and prices / Countless warships on the high seas / Gang war and the streets full of sirens”. The chorus punctuates his feelings with “What will the future bring / If my little son is seven years old / What will the future bring for him”.
I could write several pages breaking down all the different songs on here, but you really need to hear it for yourself. Other highlights are “Nail Pon Cross”, “Living It Up”, “Looks Are Deceiving”, “The Struggle Discontinues”, and “Everybody Wants To Be Somebody”.
Dancehall isn’t for everybody, but there are a good handful of straight reggae tracks on here too. Damien Marley is a real pro, and it’s a thrill to hear another solid piece of work from the legendary family.
Two Ton Music