Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley talks musical beginnings, marijuana and new album
Although music has become a huge part of his life, when reggae artist Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley was growing up in Jamaica, school was the priority.
“I had a very grounded upbringing,” said Marley, the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley. “My mother was adamant that school came first.”
The area of Stony Hill – where he lived with his mom and stepfather – was upscale with the best schools on the island which was markedly different from the more rugged area his father was from.
Like his older brothers Ziggy and Stephen Marley, Damian followed his family’s musical roots and began performing as a teenager.
“My mom started singing at jazz events and it just so happened I started performing publicly about the same time,” he said.
He said he initially began rapping and eventually performed cover songs including his dad’s well-loved hits.
In 2005, Marley dropped the Grammy Award-winning album “Welcome To Jamrock,” which featured songs blended with reggae, dance hall and hip-hop and featured showings by his brother Stephen, Nas, Bobby Brown and Eek-a-Mouse.
A well-known advocate of marijuana, Marley recently opened a dispensary in Denver aptly called Stony Hill. More locations are on the horizon.
“Marijuana has been a big part of our culture for many years and generations have sacrificed,” he said. “For it to be legal now I am very adamant that we who come from the original culture should be a part of the legal business of it.
“For us as Rastas, it’s been a spiritual sacrament and we’ve always said herb is a healing of a nation. We’ve said that in various songs over the years.”
Aside from smoking marijuana for the feelings it brings, Damian said that because of its medical benefits it’s a plus for humanity.