Poor Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley had a huge crossover hit this summer with Welcome To Jamrock, only to have his song blatantly ripped off within two months by Lil’ Kim, who claimed she was paying "tribute." While Marley, who hits the Guvernment Monday (November 28), came out of the situation relatively unscathed, we feel it’s only fair to break down both songs before you truly pick your favourite. Rating: NNNNN
|WELCOME TO JAMROCK||LIGHTERS UP|
Damian Marley's first bona fide hit in North America is equal parts dancehall dirt, social consciousness and pop infectiousness. The New York Times dubs it reggae song of the decade, and his album of the same name hits number 7 on the Billboard charts in September, the highest debut ever for a reggae artist.
Lil' Kim's last big single before going to prison, Lighters Ups Jamrock homage was an easy way to score a quick hit while Kim finished her fourth LP, The Naked Truth. She hasnt learned from the past: No Matter What They Say, off her second disc, found Kim adopting a fake West Indian flow over synthesized steel drums. It flopped real hard.
Rocky and in-depth tour of the rough, violent and corrupt Jamaica you won’t see in ads produced by the Jamtown tourism board.
Braggin’ about how dangerous Kim’s home borough of Brooklyn (and, by extension, the rapper herself) is.
A distinctly old-school two-note dancehall delivery, powered by Marley’s clear and intense commitment to the truth of his words.
The exact same notes and pattern as Marley’s, but Lil’ Kim’s whiny Jamaican accent sounds irritatingly put-on.
|HOTTEST LYRIC|| |
“Come on let’s face it, a ghetto education’s basic / And mosta’ the youths them waste it / and when they waste it, that’s when they take the guns replace it / Then them don’t stand a chance at all.”
“You know who you fuckin’ with? / Brooklyn don’t run we run shit.”
Brother Stephen (“the shy Marley”) builds Jr. Gong a hard, timeless, static-drenched dub plate spread thick with stomach-tickling bass, reverb’d snares and a murky, high-pitched synth. The sound of a gun cocking several times suggests the prevalence of guns in Jamrock. Samples Ini Kamoze’s voice.
Scott Storch, whose stock skyrocketed after he did Fat Joe’s Lean Back beat. Sounding like a combo of Dr. Dre and regular collaborators The Roots, the self-described Meyer Lansky of hiphop dresses Kim’s Ja-fakin’ flow in a slick, jiggy salsa riddim anchored by two business-like piano hits and a Wurlitzer on the hook.
|PATOIS CONTENT|| |
|BEST ENJOYED|| |
With bloodshot eyes, through a cassette walkman’s earbud headphones tucked under your dreads while walking down a dirt road in Trenchtown nodding your head with a stoic, slightly militant facial expression.
In the club at 1:30 am, so drunk on Red Bull cocktails you’re not ashamed to yell every word while you slide on the dance floor waving your lighter in the air till there’s a bouncer in your face saying something about this being your last warning.
|LOCATION SHOUTOUTS|| |
Exclusively Jamaican: Southside, Northside, East Coast, West Coast, Conwell, Middlesex, Surrey.
U.S. and international: Bed-Stuy, New York, DC, Philly, Detroit, Chicago, L.A., Virginia, Texas, New Orleans, St. Louis, Atlanta, New Jersey, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, Puerto Rico, Kingston, Jamaica.
|TAKE ME TO THE BRIDGE|| |
“Jamaica, Jamaica! Jamaica, Jamaica! Yo-o! Jamaica, Jamaica!”
“Damn homie, I’m so tore / and I don’t think I’m ever gonna smoke no mo’ / and I don’t think I’m ever gonna drink no mo’ / but fuck it bartender, you can give me one mo’...”
|THIS IS THE REMIX|| |
The official Welcome To Jamrock (Remix) featuring Busta Rhymes, whose flow is so ragga, it makes Lil’ Kim sound less Jamaican than maple syrup; the incredible Love It Or Leave It/Welcome To Jamrock by Alicia Keys on her new Unplugged disc, featuring Marley, Common and Mos Def.
Official Lighters Up (Remix) features reggaeton rapper Tego Calderón rocking constipated flows in Spanish; the predictable mix tape remix version features the clean acappella version of Biggie’s Hypnotize over the original beat.