In the run-up to his performance at Durban’s Zakifo Music Festival, Damian ‘JR Gong’ Marley, son of Bob and music star in high own right, will play one show in Johannesburg, it was announced on Wednesday.
Lesotho hip-hop act Kommanda Obbs will be the supporting act at the show at Newtown’s Groove Live, the venue formerly known as The Bassline, on Friday May 26.
Damian Robert Nesta Marley, also known as Junior Gong and more recently as Gongzilla, is the son of Bob Marley and Cindy Breakspeare, who was Miss World 1976.
The self-proclaimed “spiritual revolutionary” has worked hard to carve out his own niche in music history and has shown that he is lot more than the son of famous people.
He has been described as “rhyming with the conviction of a street preacher with the intellect of a university economist”.
After touring with his brothers – Stephen, Ky-mani, Julian and Ziggy – as a teenager Damian started to make his name as a different kind of Marley.
His first solo album, Mr Marley, released in 1996, was a heavily dancehall-influenced album. It was produced by his brother Stephen Marley.
His second album, Halfway Tree, was released in 2001 by a major record label and showcased Damian’s gift for blending dancehall, reggae and hip-hop styles.
This album won Damian much recognition remaining on the Billboard Top Reggae Album Charts for 158 weeks and earning him his first Grammy for Best Reggae Album in 2002.
A few years later his hit single Welcome to Jamrock, from the album of the same name, was listed as one of the Top 100 Songs of the Decade by Rolling Stone.
It won him Best Reggae Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 2006 Grammy Awards, which he is the only reggae artist to have won. The New York Times added the accolade “best reggae song of the decade” for Welcome to Jamrock.
This album led to Damian’s critically acclaimed collaboration with the American rapper and record producer Nas for 2010’s much-lauded album Distant Relatives, which explored reggae and hip-hop’s relationship with Africa.
USA Today called the album, which debuted at Number 5 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and Number 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Rap Albums and Reggae Albums charts, a “potent and often provocative collaboration”.
Rolling Stone described it was “an Afrocentric winner”.
Damian continued to cross musical boundaries in 2012, partnering with Skrillex for their groundbreaking track Make It Bun Dem, which Rolling Stone called “a monster mash up of dubstep and dancehall”.
Damian is currently working on his upcoming album Stony Hill. Medication, the first single of the album, featuring Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley, his brother and fellow award-winning artist, is out now.
In addition to impressing with his personal musical output, Damian is working with brothers Stephen and Julian under their Ghetto Youths International Label, to discover and develop gifted artists.
After the Johannesburg show Damian travels to Zakifo, which takes place at Blue Lagoon Beach in Durban.
He is scheduled to perform on Sunday 28 at the 3-day festival that also features Thandiswa Mazwai, Ray Phiri, Bongeziwe, Baloji, Petite Noir, Bombino, Jojo Abot, The Soil, Nova Twins, Tiggs Da Author and others.
On May 31 Damian performs in Nairobi, Kenya; June 3 sees him take to the stage at Sakifo Festival in Saint Pierre, Reunion; on June 4, he is in Pailles, Mauritius; and on June 6 it is the turn of fans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.