What a difference a decade or so makes! It seems like only the other day that Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley was a fresh-faced kid with a mass of curly hair piping “a me name Junior Gong/youngest veteran”. Less than a handful of popular albums – ‘Half-Way Tree’ in 2001 and ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ in 2005 were both Grammy winners, ‘Distant Relatives’ with Nas released in 2010 – and significant artistic development later, Junior Gong is as tough a deejay as they come.
Still, he transitions easily among varied beats – the rockers of There For You and hip hop of Road to Zion are on the same album. The delicate Affairs of the Heart and thumping Set Up Shop are currently popular.
Junior Gong has collaborated with hardcore deejays Capleton (It Was Written) and Bounty Killer (Khaki Suit), yet blends his talents well with Bruno Mars (Liquor Store Blues) and legends Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart in the all-star group SuperHeavy.
Even on the Distant Relatives set with rapper Nas, Junior Gong found room to rock Promised Land, Dennis Brown’s voice worked into the mix.
In February, Junior Gong broke sponsorship ground in an arrangement with telecommunications provider LIME. The company provided a portal for its customers to access Marley content, including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage. The video for Affairs to the Heart was the first release under the deal.
Damian Marley uses a fluid deejay style (Traffic Jam with Stephen Marley and Jah Army with Stephen and Buju Banton), bucking the generally singles trend of dancehall to focus on well-spaced albums.
How wide is his range? This year, he did Jazz and Blues in Trelawny and the Bob Marley celebration in Trench Town to very different audiences and resounding results both times.