Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Damian "Jr Gong" Marley - Halfway Tree
Covering everything from roots reggae to dancehall, culture to (mild) slackness, and hip-hop to R&B, Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley's sophomore offering, Halfway Tree, bridges the gap between several disparate Jamaican sounds. "Where Is The Love?"--set to a slinky American R&B rhythm--juxtaposes the youngest Marley's roughneck toasting against Ruff Ryder Eve's assertive feminist rap. His posh uptown pedigree can be observed in the smooth grooves and salsa-infected vibes of the Sly & Robbie-produced "She Needs My Love," which also showcases graceful vocalization by Yami Bolo. "Catch a Fire," featuring brother Stephen's raw silk harmonies, drops some straightforward African diaspora history in a classic roots reggae style, deconstructing and updating their father Bob's classic "Slave Driver." Overall, Halfway Tree is above average, and "Give Dem Some Way" is the album's most outstanding selection. After opening with a truly funny spoken-word intro, a funky bass-drum-and-flute "wild apache" beat kicks in, and then Jr. Gong and talented newcomer Izzy set it off for the educated rude-bwoy youth.