Damian ‘Jnr. Gong’ Marley

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Damian ‘Jnr. Gong’ Marley


Rastafarian Vibes: Bob Marley’s Son To Hit Melbourne

Damian ‘Jnr. Gong’ Marley, the son of reggae legend Bob Marley, comes across as the archetypal Rastafarian chiller – his relaxed voice floats like a feather down the phone line as chats to 100% prior to his appearance with US rapper Nas at next month’s Good Vibrations Festival. “We [he and Nas] have been touring Distant Relatives since May so the music doesn’t feel new but the show is a nice mixture of both genres of music, you know, Nas is obviously a hip hop legend and you get some songs from his career as well as songs from earlier on in my career so you get a nice rounded show.”

However, despite his ostensibly innocuous tone and relaxed manner Marley is not treating this conversation as simply a requirement of his contract with the festival or a P.R puff to piece boost sales of his record. He wears his philosophies on his sleeve and wants everyone to know that, like his father, he writes music with a message. “This album has a lot of meaning, personally that is, because on it we speak about Africa which plays a great role in my life.” Another big part of Marley’s life that is intertwined with his distant African heritage is his religious beliefs that are based in the Rastafarian movement.

Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, former Emperor of Ethiopia (1930–1936 and 1941–1974), as God incarnate and they firmly believe that Africa – known as Zion – is the birth place of humanity. This belief has been backed up by the discovery of proto-human remains dating back thousands of years being found in Africa.

Marley now goes into greater detail about the Rastafarian movement touching on his father’s experience when his music first broke into the US. “Look at it this way, when my father started touring the world in the 60s and 70s he was one of the only persons who was a Rastafarian but nowadays you have the movement right around the world and it just goes to show how much Rasta culture, reggae culture has grown around the world over the years and each day it grows more and more.” Marley now moves on to explain the indelible print that his religion left on Distant Relatives.

“Africa plays a big part in the album and Africa is also plays a great role in Rastafarian culture. Therefore the whole album in general is conceptualised around Africa – every song.” He qualifies his statement further by stating that his belief system is integral to every aspect of his life. “As a Rastafarian it affects my way of life: the way I dress, what I eat and of course the music I make. You find that most aspects of life resonate in Rastafarian culture and that is what I represent.”

With Marley coming to Australia he is quizzed on his awareness of the Australian Aboriginals plight for equality and recognition. Marley does not claim to know the full story but as we found out he is definitely across the issues. “I know a little bit about it, I wouldn’t say that I know a great deal. I understand that it is basically the same thing that has happened in various countries the world over where indigenous people become the victim of colonization and so forth. So I know a little bit about it.”

Marley’s father, Bob, also was advocate of cultural awareness and acceptance of all human belief systems and it seems by Marley’s response to what steps are needed to eradicate in inequality that he listened very closely to what his father preached. “Communication is the most important, simply talking to one another, and respect for each others cultures. For example, education: some guys will go to university and think that makes you wiser or smarter than someone else but they are only perceived as being wiser or smarter in one specific cultural construct so I think we all need to have respect and appreciation for every point of view regardless of that persons background and the most important part of that mutual understanding is communication.”

Closing out the interview with Marley, 100% quizzes the Jamaican on his most effective form of

communication, his live performance. “Well there will be eight of us on stage and we will be doing some of my father’s songs – usually as part of my songs – and Nas brings a really cool energy to all my tracks that we do and obviously his Hip Hop tracks, as I said before, are just legendary.”

Damian ‘Jnr. Gong’ Marley [JAM] is appearing at Good Vibes. Distant Relatives is out now on Universal.