The gong has sounded off to signal the fans' feverish anticipation of the latest Marley album, that of Grammy winner Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley. Last week Friday, that excitement reached a heady climax at a euphoric press launch at the Bob Marley museum at 56 Hope Road, St. Andrew.
University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer Dr. Clinton Hutton delivered the main address at the gathering of media reps, industry insiders and artistes at 56 Hope Road, St. Andrew.
"We are not here because Jnr. Gong is the son of the reggae king of the world, but because Jnr. Gong's talent cannot be disputed. If one time you could say him trying a thing because of his father, you cannot say that now," Dr. Hutton said to enthusiastic applause.
"We see that he is mellowing, he is a man of himself now...his talent cannot be disputed."
Heavyweight stars such as Bounty Killa who appears on a collaboration on the album, Richie Spice, and Richie Stephens paid their respects. Music personalities like Christine Hewitt, celebrity manager Copeland Forbes, and well-known ground networker, "Stampede" were also present.
One of the highlights of the event was a video presentation covering the Jr. Gong's genesis and physical/spiritual development from baby stage to tentative young dreadlocked teen to supremely confident performer with very long dreadlocks rocking Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest 2005 in Montego Bay, St. James. During the presentation, two females, who hail from Trench Town, appeared to be wetting the seat of their tight jeans given their "superenthusiastic" reception of the presentation.
The young Marley paid homage to his mother, Cindy Breakspeare, saying 'big respect' for making sure that education came before music. He fielded questions from journalists, and greeted with humility the ecstatic encomiums heaped on him by adoring fans. He was gracious yet authoritative in his defence of his chosen genre -dancehall.
"Dancehall music was what I was listening to growing up," he said
He responded to critics of the negative images portrayed in 'Welcome to Jamrock'.
"We have lots of songs that display different sides of Jamaica. Is just that it (Jamrock) get popular. It is great to hear people saying things. The song is meant to provoke thought," he said.
The launch also featured a creative backdrop to the official proceedings which reflected the charming poverty of the inner city with its old brick buildings, graffiti-choked zinc fences, with slashes of red, green and gold, 'more justice' and 'one love' written on opposite sides.
Earlier in the evening, Paula-Ann Porter, who hosted the function, said there had been an international bidding war for the album, which is a joint effort among Tuff Gong, Ghetto Youths and Universal Records/Motown. Jnr. Gong said he went with Universal because it already has a significant amount of the family's music, including his father Bob's and brother Stephen's. He noted that going with Universal also allows him input in the distribution of the album.