Mon | May 27, 2019

Special lines, delivery throughout Stony Hill

Published:Thursday | October 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
The inside back cover image of Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley's album 'Stony Hill'.
Damian Marley
The front inside cover image of 'Stony Hill'.

I do not really like basketball, but in the 1990s, I hardly missed a televised game with Michael Jordan. It was not that the Chicago Bulls were 'threepeating' in the NBA - if tuning in to winners was the objective, I would have gone on to watch games with Shaquile O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and other standouts.

Why I watched Jordan play was that win or lose, every game he would do something that made me go "blow wow!". He turned basketball into art, and it did not hurt that he had great support in Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr, and more, with coach Phil Jackson marshalling them all.

The man who walked on air always credited those around him, just as Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley does at the start of Speak Life, the 18th and final track of Stony Hill, where he gives thanks for being surrounded by ones with such talent. And, like Jordan playing in the NBA, in every song on Stony Hill, Damian Marley does something that makes me go "blow wow!".(or "bloodfire!" or another 'b' word that this newspaper can't print).

And it is not that the lines, well mated to music that spans the gamut of roots reggae (Looks Are Deceiving, The Struggle Continues, Nail Pon Cross), hip-hop (Living It Up), dancehall (R.O.A.R.), nyahbinghi (Speak Life), well-balanced fusions that defy categorisation (Slave Mill) and some gentle, near-acoustic (So a Child May Follow, which my six-year-old demands to hear over and over while we are driving), are clever. Clever in the age of Google is common.

The lines are not only clever, they are very well thought out and carry an import beyond the immediate effect.