Damian was two years old when his father, Bob Marley, died; he is the only child born to Marley and Cindy Breakspeare, Miss World 1976. Damian’s nickname Junior Gong is derived from his father’s nickname of Tuff Gong. Marley has been performing since the age of 13. He shares, along with most of his family, a full-time career in music.
Marley has described his music as “dancehall and reggae. I’ve noticed…people trying to separate the two of them,” he continues. “It’s Jamaican culture in general. I don’t try to classify or separate.”
At age 13, he formed a musical group by the name of the Shephards, which included the daughter of Freddie McGregor and son of Third World’s Cat Core. The group opened the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash festival. The band fell apart in the early 1990s and Damian started his solo career.
With the backing of his father’s label, Tuff Gong, he released his 1996 debut album Mr. Marley which surprised many who were unaccustomed to hearing a Marley deejaying rather than singing.Damian’s brother, Stephen Marley, was a producer and co-author for this album.
His second album, Halfway Tree was released in 2001. The cover of Halfway Tree depicts him standing under the clock at halfway tree. This is an embodiment of his parent’s different social origins with his mother from uptown and his father from the ghetto. In Kingston, Jamaica the Halfway Tree was used as a shady halfway point for farmers and vendors who would pass the tree on their route to transport their goods to the downtown market.It brought him much recognition, remaining on the Billboard top reggae albums chart for 158 weeks, and winning the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.
His third album, Welcome to Jamrock was released in September 2005, named after the hugely successful song of the same name. The lyrics to the single “Welcome to Jamrock“, which was performed over a riddim produced by Sly and Robbie for Ini Kamoze some 20 years earlier, centered around poverty, politics and crime in Jamaica. While the single was controversial at home over its perceived negative viewpoint of the island, many praised the content of the song. Dr. Clinton Hutton, professor at the University of the West Indies, said of the single, “‘Jamrock’ 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. And still some of us don’t want to hear and to look and say enough is enough.” The single reached #13 on the UK Singles Chart and #55 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.It was also #100 on the Top 100 Songs of the Decade listing by Rolling Stone.
At the 2006 Grammy Awards, he won Best Reggae Album and Best Urban/Alternative Performance for Welcome to Jamrock. He is the only Jamaican reggae artist in history to win two Grammy Awards on the same night. He is also the only reggae artist to win in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category at the Grammy Awards. The album sold 86,000 copies in its first week of release, and was eventually certified gold after selling 500,000 copies in the United States. Other notable singles from the album include “The Master Has Come Back“, “Road to Zion” featuring Nas, and “Khaki Suit” featuring Bounty Killer and Eek-A-Mouse.
On May 17, 2010, Marley released Distant Relatives, a collaborative album with Nas. The album title refers not only to the bond between the artists, but the connection to their African ancestry, which inspired the album both musically and lyrically. They have previously collaborated on “Road to Zion”, on Marley’s Welcome to Jamrock album. The album joins two different flavors of music with Marley’s dub-rock aesthetic and Nas’ flow. Damian and Stephen produced much of the album. The proceeds of this album will go to building schools in the Congo.
In a 2011 interview on Tim Westwood, Damian revealed he had started work on a new album. His street single, released in Jamaica was titled “Just Aint The Same”. He has also joined Mick Jagger‘s musical project SuperHeavy with Joss Stone, Dave Stewart and A.R. Rahman. Their debut single “Miracle Worker” was released on June 6, 2011, with the album scheduled for a September 2011 release. Damian also worked with electronic artist Skrillex on a song called “Make It Bun Dem” in 2012. This song also appears in the 2012 game Far Cry 3
Personal life and beliefs
Born as Damien Marley, he was nicknamed “Jr. Gong” in honour of his legendary father, Bob “Tuff Gong” Marley. His mother is a Jamaican jazz musician, former model and crowned Miss World1976 Cindy Breakspeare. After seeing The movie Damien: Omen II, which is about the coming of the Antichrist, one of Bob’s last requests in Germany was to have Damian’s name changed. “Damien being a devil….It was inappropriate for him as a Rastafarian to have a child with that name,” Bob said and Damian’s name was later changed. He has 12 siblings total; 10 on his father’s side and 2 on his mother’s side. Damian was two years old when his father died due to the spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain, at 36 years of age.
Marley has been in the music business since he was a child. He is a Rastafarian and his music reflects both his beliefs and the Rastafari guiding principles of one love, one planet, and freedom for all nations. He has a son Elijah who was born on August 19th 2009.While he travels and tours the better part of the year, his home base is split between Kingston, Jamaica and Miami, Florida in the United States of America. He has a younger half brother Christian and a half sister Leah from his mother Cindy.