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'Welcome to Jamrock': A celebration of culture and talent

By MEL COOKE, Freelance Writer

WHEN BROADCASTER, PAULA-Ann Porter, opened Friday night's function to officially present Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley's third album to the public, she said, "Welcome to a celebration of culture and talent. Welcome to 56 Hope Road. Welcome to Jamrock."

Jamrock follows the full-length debut Mr. Marley in 1996 and the Grammy-winning Half-Way Tree in 2000.

There were reciprocal welcomes for the album from artistes such as Richie Stephens, selectors such as Swam King, a Rastafarian woman who said "dem no start rock yet!" and a resident of Trench Town who said thanks for promoting the community.

Among the songs on the album are combinations with Bounty Killer, Eeka Mouse and Nas. Junior Gong said these were the most exciting parts of the project. "We really work with people, we were fans of," he said. "Me is a big Bounty Killer fan from school. And Eeka Mouse is the only mouse that sing," he said, laughing.

Fire of creativity

The night's guest speaker, Dr. Clinton Hutton of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, made only the connection between Jamrock and Trench Town, but also between father and son as he spoke on 'The relevance of Bob Marley, Rastafari and Welcome to Jamrock.

"Jamrock (the single) uses the icon of the inner city, of alienation, of despair, of prejudice, but of hope, of Jamaican identity, to remind us of the fire of frustration, the fire of creativity, the fire of warning to open up our eyes and look within to the life we are living," Hutton said. "And still some of us don't want to hear and to look and say enough is enough."

Junior Gong also addressed the criticisms of the song. "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 to applause.

The album Jamrock is a joint effort of Tuff Gong, Ghetto Youths and Universal/Motown.

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September 12, 2005

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