CULVER CITY, California — Now that he's established himself as a solo artist with "Welcome to Jamrock," Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley has returned to the airwaves with one of his friends in tow.
The reggae singer's latest single is the Nas collaboration "Road to Zion."
The track is "about this road that has a lot of stumbling blocks and struggles [and still] keeping your head up," Marley said at the recent Vibe Awards.
Nas' verse keeps with the theme, although personalized a bit. "In my lifetime I look back in paths I walked/ Where savages fought and passengers taught," he raps. "Prostitutes stomp in high-heel boots/ And badges screamin' at young black children/ Stop or I will shoot."
Marley and Nas shot the video using the rapper's hometown as the backdrop. "We did the video in New York, [and] we did a scene in a prison in Queens, so it has a grimy look," Marley said.
Damian isn't the first Marley to use Zion as a symbol of refuge. It's traditionally a sign of hope in reggae music, as in Bob Marley's 1980 song "Zion Train."
Speaking of Damian's late father, a mash-up of "Welcome to Jamrock" with Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" is included on the recently released Africa Unite: The Singles Collection. A previously unreleased track featuring Eric Clapton on guitar and a remix by Will.I.Am are also included in the collection, next to 17 classics.
"It's exciting for me to listen to [the songs], because a lot of them I'm not too familiar with," said Marley, who was 2 when his father died.
Now Marley is moving on another family album. He's producing tracks for brother Stephen's new disc, due in 2006.