Below are excerpts from an interview with Damian Marley published in 2005 shortly after the release of his breakthrough album Welcome to Jamrock.
Your father became one of the world’s biggest sex symbols and you have the potential to follow suit. How do you feel about that?
(Long pause, then laughs). That’s good.
Are you in a relationship at the moment?
So that’s not necessarily good for your partner?
What do you think of the British music scene?
I have a brother (Julian) who is from England so I know a little bit, but not too much. (He asks: ‘What’s the difference between jungle and UK garage?’ and I explain that one is a digital derivative of dub and the other a fusion of jungle and house). The thing I admire about England is: people take risks there and seem more open to different genres and styles. I’ve always loved that about England and Europe in general, as opposed to how America deals with it.
If you had the power to change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
I’d change the risk factors. Music executives, radio DJs and the people that promote our music don’t take risks because they’re scared of losing their jobs. So they stick with whatever they think is mainstream instead of trying out something they believe in or are a fan of.
Last time we spoke, you said Eve contributed vocals to Halfway Tree for free. Did you have to pay Nas to record on Welcome to Jamrock?
A bit of both; it’s business still.
How did you hook up with Bobby Brown for Beautiful; it’s definitely an odd link up?
I didn’t really choose to collaborate with him, it kinda just happened. A family friend works in his production team. She noticed he wore a lot of Bob Marley t-shirts and asked if he wanted to shoot a scene with the family for his TV show. He said it was cool; we shot the scene; he came over to the studio and the song was playing and he just got involved.
Bob Marley is one of the biggest names in entertainment and your mother is a former Miss World. How do you stay grounded?
It’s not really that difficult because I’m naturally shy in a sense so it’s not a big struggle.
Your friend and fellow MC Daddigan passed away earlier this year. How did that affect you?
Greatly, he was one of my best friends. That was a big blow for me. It was a case of mistaken identity. He was wearing a black t-shirt and somebody had told somebody to look for a guy in a black t-shirt. But it was the wrong guy.
Over the last few years Jamaican music has moved away from hardcore dancehall in favour of roots reggae – is that a good thing?
Yes. I love how culture music has kinda taken the frontier when it comes to the international scene. It’s good to see that different angles and approaches are getting exposed. Cultural music is always popular in Jamaica, but you haven’t really seen that coming to the forefront in terms of what is exposed to America and England. It’s good to see yout’s like I Wayne and even Sizzla getting that international push now. Suh me love wha’ gwaan still.
What message do you have for youths who look up to you as a role model?
The messages are all on the album; it’s kinda hard to sum them up in one sentence. It’s a message of hope and prosperity. But really, I guess we’re trying to help people be responsible for themselves and take their destinies into their own hands.