At the age of thirteen, Damian Marley had already formed a band called the Shephards and began performing concerts, including the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash music festival in his native Jamaica. In 1996, Damian released his debut solo album, Mr. Marley, with the help of his brother Stephen Marley as producer and co-author. Before long, “Junior Gong” had established himself as a creative force in the reggae and dancehall community. His second and third albums, Halfway Tree and Welcome to Jamrock, respectively, both earned Grammy Awards for Best Reggae Album. His music serves as a modernized but faithful take on many of the same themes found in his father’s music – togetherness, overcoming crime, poverty, and injustice, as well as devotions to faith and pacifism.
Damian has made an effort to expand his genre’s boundaries through several collaborations, resulting in songs with artists like EDM hit maker Skrillex and hip-hop groundbreakers Cypress Hill. Damian worked with Nas to release 2010’s acclaimed Distant Relatives, an album that explores the artists’ shared African lineage and was released in support of developing schools in the devastated Congo region. Another highly innovative collaboration was Damian’s contribution to the supergroup SuperHeavy, in which he stands alongside Joss Stone, A.R. Rahman, the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, and the legendary Mick Jagger. The group’s diverse mix of musicians defies genre with a blend of classic rock and roll, reggae, dancehall, and Indian pop music.
Damian Marley has found a way to honor the memory and ideals of his beloved father while also paving his own remarkably unique path. His gold-certified records and Grammy Awards serve as proof of his talents and magnetism, but it is his tireless touring schedule and dedication to improving the community surrounding his home in Jamaica that have made Damian one of the most revered reggae artists of the past two decades. Time will tell if the tradition is to continue, but as of today the Marley dynasty remains alive and well.