Review Summary: Uplifting, full of hope and and quality modern Reggae
It’s impossible to deny the huge legacy Bob Marley has left in terms of music and inspiration. Not only are his albums gems for Reggae lovers but his offspring are also some of the best artist in the genre. Damian Marley is probably one of the most known out of all of them, along with Stephen and Ziggy Marley. Blending Hip Hop and modern Reggae, his flow and melodies are classics for whoever tried listening to the genre. Coming into light to the entire World with Welcome to Jamrock, Damian “Jr Gong” Marley (his father being “Tuff Gong”) has collaborated with some of the best artists in the music industry including Mick Jagger (Superheavy), Jay-Z and Nas. Stony Hill is Jr Gong’s fourth release as a solo artist, a musical career that started in 1996 with Mr Marley.
Jr Gong is known for making quality ragga sounds, with albums including elements of modern reggae, hip hop and dancehall. Unlike his previous release, Stony Hill seem to focus a bit more on old school Reggae, yet keeping a fresh sound. Songs like Looks Are Deceiving and The Struggle Discontinues are windows into Reggae’s history in both their composition with drum intros, lead guitars and one drop rhythms, but also in their lyrics as the former’s title is a direct tribute to Albert Griffith’s Gladiator band, while the latter contains some of Bob Marley’s most known lyrics: “Get Up And Stand Up For Your Rights”. Talking about lyrics, this record is full of positive and political message. Nail Pon Cross talks about the quick judgement based on stereotypes while Looks are Deceiving is direct message of hope to those who might think less of themselves because of deception.
Produced in majority by Jr Gong, there is a real effort in creating a soulful rhythm that Roots Reggae is known for. This definitely makes this album stand out from the other releases in the genre. Although having a few old school sounding songs, this release is also full of modern instrumentalisation, which ironically are the low points of this album. Although being far from fillers, songs like Upholstery don’t bring anything to the soundscape and rather lack in character. On the other hand, the laid back Grown and Sexy or the acoustic rhythms of Perfect Picture (both in collaboration with Stephen Marley) are perfect example of modern sounding songs by Jr Gong that makes him stand out from the other reggae artists. Caution, which uses a sample by Michael Rose (Youth of Eglington from the album Red by Black Uhuru) is good example of Jr Gong making a great Dancehall rhythm while making a reference to the Reggae legacy. Another highlight on this release would be Medication that combines Stephen and Jr Gong’s talent into a great summer song.
Lasting for about an hour and fifteen minutes, this record rarely feels boring, apart from a few low points. Starting out perfectly with Here We go and the single Nail Pon Cross, this record is full of ups and downs in terms of flow. There is no doubt that this release will have a big impact on the Reggae soundscape, as in one release Jr Gong has managed to include most of the Jamaican musical culture. This proves that Damian Marley is still one of the best Reggae artist out there, as most of his brothers are. What’s interesting in this huge legacy, is that each of them have a very distinct style and sound, even though some of them combine the same genres (Damian and Ky-Mani).
Album Rating: 4.0
Here we go
My big ego is gonna get me in trouble
Trying to play hero
My jeans can't tight like Michael Phelps speedo
We no play follow fashion, when we lead out
Now looky here, my big ideas
Gonna get me in trouble now amongst my peers
But have no fear, no bother cry tears
You're just miles ahead when I'm ahead light years
Warning: essay incoming...
I'm not going to neg because it's a decently structured review and it seems like you did try, but I have a few critiques to make.
Firstly, the points don't feel like they describe the music very deeply. Here's what I mean:
"Jr Gong is known for making quality ragga sounds, with albums including elements of modern reggae, hip hop and dancehall. Unlike his previous release, Stony Hill seem to focus a bit more on old school Reggae, yet keeping a fresh sound."
What is it about Jr Gong's ragga sounds that make them "quality"? What is it about this album's sound that is "fresh"?
"On the other hand, the laid back Grown and Sexy or the acoustic rhythms of Perfect Picture (both in collaboration with Stephen Marley) are perfect example of modern sounding songs by Jr Gong that makes him stand out from the other reggae artists."
How exactly do they make him stand out from other reggae artists?
Secondly, and this kind of follows on from the first point, it sometimes feels like you just list one thing after another without going into much depth. For example, in the third paragraph, you mentioned that the album has a "soulful rhythm" and then moved on very swiftly to the album having "modern instrumentalisation". While it's good that you can identify these features of the music, it doesn't read all that well when you just list them off like this.
Thirdly, it's useful to write things in the 'standard' Sput format. As a rule, album titles go in italics, song titles go in "quotation marks", and genre names don't start with Capital letters. While this isn't prescriptive of the whole site, it makes things a lot easier to read than everything just being in one typeface. If you need someone to proofread your reviews before you submit them, I'd be happy to do so, and I'm sure there are many other folks on this site who would be too.
Apologies if I've come over too sharp here, I've just tried to give you some constructive feedback so that your reviews can become even stronger and more convincing. These are all things I've picked up from being on Sput for a while (although I appreciate that you've been here longer than I have), and I do probably still make some of these mistakes in my reviews, so I'm no expert here. It's just I can see you have talent, and I'd love to see that develop further.
Peace, Nat (mete0ra)
Album Rating: 4.0
Thanks for the feedback, greatly appreciated! I do agree on a lot of points you mentionned though, probably wrote this a bit too fast and almost as it came into my mind.