The recording included guest appearances by a number of musicians, including Lil Wayne and Joss Stone (on "My Generation"), K'naan ("Tribes at War" and "Africa Must Wake Up"), Damian's brother Stephen Marley ("Leaders" and "In His Own Words"), and Junior Reid ("Ancient People").
Many of the songs related to African issues including poverty, AIDS, and the devastating diamond trade.
"We tried to use a lot of African elements without really just making it sound like tribal drums," Marley says. "They have great jazz musicians in Africa. A lot of people aren't aware of this. So I wanted to bring a lot of that to light."
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
Photo courtesy BAMP Project
One of the tracks, "Tribes at War," features African percussion and Arabic strings and a cameo from Somali-born K'Naan, who raps: "I drink poison then vomit diamonds, I gave you Mandela, black Dalai Lamas, I gave you music, you enthused in my kindness, so how dare you reduce me to Donny Imus?"
"Never before in either genre has there been such a deeply successful collaboration album," raved RapReviews.
"The most political mainstream rapper and the most talented Tuff Gong scion make this a true collaboration," praised veteran critic Robert Cristgau on MSN. "The result is an exceptionally melodic reggae album that's intensified by rapping devoid of dancehall patois and a hard edge unknown to roots revivalism."
And an All Music Guide review concluded: "It's a royal and a striking reminder of why these two artists have reached legendary status."
Last year, the acclaimed documentary "Marley" was released about his father.
"It was good to see some of the stories being told," Damian says. "There were one or two stories I hadn't heard before. To see the interviews and the elders speaking was nice."
So what's the greatest blessing being a son of such a legendary artist?
"The biggest blessing is the family, the whole legacy and heritage," he says. "We have one of the greatest examples to follow. My father laid a foundation, an infrastructure that we could plug our thing into. Having so many brothers and sisters that love and support you is a blessing."
* The Republik Music Festival featuring Damian Marley will be presented at 6 p.m. Friday at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Gates open at 5 p.m. The show also features Santigold and the Ghetto Youths Crew. Tickets are $42.50 general admission; $90 for VIP ($5 increase on show day), plus applicable fees.
The African Americans On Maui Association will present a special tribute to the legendary New York City nightclub the Cotton Club on Friday at the Historic Iao Theater. The jazz club was famous during the 1920s and 1930s, and the revue will feature a night of entertainment, pupu, music and fun.
Written and directed by Ayin Adams and Gwyn Gorg, "A Night at the Cotton Club (A Musical Revue)" will feature a variety of entertainers, including the Gene Argel Band, Bobby Ingram, Sal Godinez, Kelly Covington, Nara Boone, Sunny Gorg, Galyn Gorg and Gentry Gorg.
Tickets are $30. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. For tickets or more information, call 274-6864 or www.mauionstage.com.