Eleven years ago, Damian Marley released Welcome to Jamrock, the Gold-certified winner of the 2006 Best Reggae Album Grammy, with its powerfully gritty title track winning the Best Urban/Alternative performance Grammy, a first for a Jamaican artist. Since then, Damian’s busy schedule has included recording the SuperHeavy album as a member of a short lived supergroup that included Mick Jagger and Joss Stone and working with Nas on the critically lauded Distant Relatives.
Now, the reggae scion is prepping Welcome to Jamrock’s much-anticipated follow up, his largely self-produced fourth studio album, Stony Hill, which is scheduled for an Oct. 28 release. Stony Hill’s first single, the urgent “Nail Pon Cross,” debuts today on Billboard and is streaming exclusively on Tidal, where Damian is one of several artists/co-owners.
Sampling the blistering, bass heavy rhythm from Jamaican vocal trio Black Uhuru’s 1984 hit “Solidarity” (produced by the legendary reggae drum and bass virtuosos Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare) Marley’s succession of ingenious rapid-fire rhymes, delivered in his inimitable sing-jay style, caution against rash assessments of people irrespective of their background, color or social standing. “I wasn’t thinking about anything grandiose when I was writing the lyrics, just day to day personal relationships,” Marley told Billboard in an exclusive interview. “The song touches on the judgments we see in the media and in politics, but it is really about how we pass judgment on each other.”
“You must understand that a man is just a man/ Don’t you judge him for his ways and flaws/ Speak of love tomorrow you’ll be doing good my brother/ You’re working for the greatest cause,” Marley sings on the track that serves as a lesson on casting the first stone, a relevant message in this strife-filled presidential election season.