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Taken from DancehallMag (Jan 11, 2024)

Damian Marley Puts Spotlight On First Free Town For Africans In The Americas

by Dani Mallick


Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley in the video for 'My Sweet Lord'
Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley in the video for 'My Sweet Lord'


San Basilio de Palenque, a town in Colombia founded by escaped African slaves in the 17th century, is the backdrop for Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley's new music video for his track, My Sweet Lord.


Released on Thursday (January 11), the video was directed by Marley's longtime partner, B+ of Mochilla. The Welcome To Jamrock singer said he wanted to celebrate this haven of Afro-Colombian culture, which is widely regarded as the first 'free town' for those who fled a life of slavery in the Americas.


"The video beautifully showcases the city and its people, capturing dynamic dance sequences and intimate moments with Marley interacting on its streets," a release noted.


According to UNESCO, "Palenque de San Basilio was one of the walled communities called palenques, which were founded by escaped slaves as a refuge in the seventeenth century. Of the many palenques that existed in former times, only San Basilio has survived until the present day. It developed into a unique cultural space."



My Sweet Lord is a Reggae cover of George Harrison's timeless classic of the same name. The ex-Beatles member's original song, from his third studio album, All Things Must Pass, made its debut in 1970. It swiftly soared to No. 1 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart, and topped the charts in over a dozen other countries.


Jr. Gong puts his spin on the spiritual anthem, giving the track a fresh sound with his signature reggae style and soulful vocals. "During a trip to LA, I heard the song 'My Sweet Lord,' a couple of times, and I really liked it. Back in Miami, we jammed to it with a reggae beat and I envisioned creating a cool, reggae-style version," Marley said. Given recent events in my life and my family's experiences, releasing the song now feels more significant


There have been several other Reggae adaptations of the track over the years, including those by Byron Lee & The Dragonaires (1971), John Holt (1972), Wailing Souls (1998), and George Nooks (2014).


My Sweet Lord is Marley's first solo song since Reach Home Safe (2019) and Life Is A Circle (2020). It was released under his own label, Ghetto Youths International, which he runs with his brothers Stephen and Julian Marley.


The youngest son of Reggae legend Bob Marley, Jr. Gong himself has a decorated career with three Grammy Awards to his credit for Best Reggae Album-Halfway Tree (2001), Welcome To Jamrock (2005), and Stony Hill (2017). He also clinched the Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance with his song Welcome To Jamrock.


The 45-year-old also boasts a Grammy Award for his role as executive producer for Kabaka Pyramid's The Kalling, an album that snatched the Best Reggae Album award last year.


Marley is expected to release more music later this month.


Press play on My Sweet Lord above.




 
 

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