Entertainment

From Halfway Tree to Jamrock

BY KEVIN JACKSON Observer writer

Thursday, January 16, 2014    

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The Grammy Awards are scheduled for January 26 at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. Five nominees (Beres Hammond, Ziggy Marley, Sizzla, Snoop Lion and Sly and Robbie) are up for Best Reggae Album. Leading up to the big event, the Jamaica Observer presents a daily reflection on the reggae category. Today, we highlight Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley's Halfway Tree and Welcome to Jamrock.

TO date, Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley has won three Grammy awards — two for Best Reggae Album and another for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

His first Best Reggae Album win came with 2001's Halfway Tree. Five years later, he won again with Welcome To Jamrock.

Halfway Tree was co-produced by his brother Stephen, Americans Swizz Beatz, Kid Nyce and Gorilla Tek. It was released on September 11 (day of the World Trade Center attacks) and debuted at number two on Billboard's reggae Album chart.

Music executive Cristy Barber, who has worked on all of Marley's albums, spoke about the impact 9/11 had on Halfway Tree.

"It didn't help, but the album was able to sustain itself during that time due to the amazing musical content," she recalled.

The album contained the hit singles It Was Written, More Justice and Still Searching. Halfway Tree also featured collaborations with Capleton, Yami Bolo, and rappers Treach from Naughty by Nature Mr Cheeks and Eve.

Halfway Tree triumphed at the 2002 Grammys, beating the various artistes compilation Island Warriors, Many More Roads by Marley's older brother Ky-Mani Marley, A New Day by Luciano, and Music is Life from Beres Hammond.

Halfway Tree has to date sold more than 100,000 copies.

Welcome to Jamrock was released in September 2005, opening with 86,000 copies sold and debuting at number seven on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and number one on the Reggae Album chart.

American rapper Nas, Rhythm and Blues singer Bobby Brown, Bounty Killer and old school singjay Eek-a-Mouse appeared on the album which was driven by the hits, Road to Zion, Beautiful, Khaki Suit and the title track. The Welcome to Jamrock single peaked at number 55 on the Billboard Hot 100, number 18 on Billboard's R&B Hip Hop Singles chart and number 12 on the Rap Singles chart. Over in the United Kingdom, the track stalled at number 13 on the Pop Singles chart.

Welcome To Jamrock beat Our Music (Burning Spear), The Trinity (Sean Paul), Clothes Drop (Shaggy) and Black Gold & Green by Third World for the Grammy.

The album also won a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

Said Barber, "Welcome To Jamrock was a hit when we heard it, and our Ghetto Youths team broke that record with no major label support and started one of (if not the biggest) bidding wars in the mid-2000s. It was a lot of work to get people on board with the project at the start, but once it took off, the sky was the limit."

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