The day before Christmas three Marley brothers decided to drop a new compilation – Set Up Shop Vol. 2. A strange date one might think, but this 15 track set still managed to debut at #1 on U.S. Billboard Reggae Album Chart.
Set Up Shop Vol. 2 is in the same vein as its predecessor, a set released in early 2013. It hosts roughly the same artists – Damian, Julian and Stephen Marley along with Stephen Marley’s son Jo Mersa. Also onboard is Black-I-Am, Christopher Ellis, Wayne Marshall and Cham. Invited as guest performers are Biggz General, Illestr8, Spragga Benz, Irie Love, Junior Reid and Tarrus Riley. One hell of a line-up.
It is primarily produced by the Grammy-winning brothers Stephen and Damian Marley, but Phillip “Winta” James is responsible for lead single Is It Worth It (Gunman World), performed by Damian Marley.
Included are both new and previously released material and the set collects both tribal energy and hard-hitting dancehall as well as uplifting, sing-a-long anthems and sweet harmonies complete with handclaps, ukulele strumming and hypnotic bass lines.
Stephen and Damian Marley has cooked up quite a stew here. And their signature and intoxicating blend of boastful hip-hop, raw roots reggae, reinvented rocksteady and clubbing is easy to recognize and fall in love with.
Ghetto Youths International, the record label owned and operated by Bob Marley’s sons Damian, Julian and Stephen, will release the brand new compilation Set Up Shop Vol. 2 on December 23. The 15-track compilation follows volume 1, released exclusively on iTunes in February 2013.
The new album is primarily produced by the Grammy-winning brothers Stephen and Damian Marley. The set features new and already released material from the entire Ghetto Youths roster, including Jo Mersa, Black-Am-I, Christopher Ellis, Wayne Marshall and the label’s founders, along with dancehall artist Cham.
Damian Marley’s Is It Worth It? (Gunman World) is lead single off the compilation and will be accompanied by short film music video directed by Nabil Elderkin, who has previously worked with Kanye West, Nicki Minaj and Frank Ocean.
Successful producer and deejay Damian Marley drops new single. Hard Work is taken from the forthcoming compilation Set Up Shop Vol.2, set to be released later this year on the Marley-owned Ghetto Youths International label.
Listen to Hard Work below.
Jo Mersa is son of Stephen Marley. His grandfather is Bob Marley and his uncle is Damian Marley. One could say that the music industry has great expectations on him and his debut EP Comfortable, a six track set mainly produced by himself.
He was born in Jamaica, but has migrated to Miami, U.S., and made his musical debut last year with the track Comfortable, included on Ghetto Youths International’s – a label owned by Stephen, Damian and Julian Marley – compilation Set Up Shop Vol. 1. He has also toured extensively with his father.
Comfortable is a cross-over effort with an infectious and hook-filled mix of reggae, dancehall, pop, hip-hop and electronic dance music. Best of the bunch is hip-hop-influenced opener Rock and Swing, which borrows elements from the mighty Enter Into His Gates With Praise, and the catchy remix of Comfortable, on which Jo Mersa shares vocal duties with label mate Wayne Marshall.
Jo Mersa certainly has much to live up to, but manages to carry his family’s legacy forward into the 21st century.
More than ten years has passed since Wayne Marshall dropped his debut album Marshall Law. Now he’s back with a second set on a new label – the Marley owned Ghetto Youths International. But that’s not the only Marley connection. Damian Marley has also produced most of the tracks and he also makes a guest appearance on the club anthem Go Hard, a cut that also features Assassin aka Agent Sasco, Vybz Kartel, I Octane, Aidonia and Bounty Killer. Did someone say prominent guest artists?
Well, we’re not done yet. Not nearly. Tarrus Riley, Cham, Capleton and Stephen Marley is on board, so is Tessanne Chin, this season’s winner of NBC’s The Voice and Marshall’s sister-in-law. Hip-hop artists Ace Hood and Waka Flocka also join the party.
On album opener It’s On Now, Wayne Marshall sets the rules for the album and states that Tru Colors represents his growth over the years. It has come down to this. A mature and contemporary reggae album spiced with hip-hop, R&B, gospel and electronic dance music.
Wayne Marshall is a multi-faceted artist, equally at home with singing and singjaying. I prefer the latter, even though he makes a strong singing effort on a version of R.E.M’s mega smash Losing My Religion. Marshall’s take is called On the Corner and is about the choices people make in life, choices essential to the fate – “that’s me in the school yard, that’s you in the school fight trying to please your ego… That’s me in the studio, that’s you on the crack pipe searching for the answers and still hiding form the light”. Listen kids – these choices are crucial and might have an significant impact on what happens in life.
Other important issues discussed is child molesting and missing children on Be on the Alert, honesty on Tru Colors, struggle on Nah Give Up and aspiration on Stupid Money.
Tru Colors certainly covers a diverse range of moods, styles and topics and Wayne Marsall shows that he is a clever lyricist with a feel for memorable melodies.
Christopher Ellis, the youngest son of the late legendary Jamaican vocalist and rocksteady pioneer Alton Ellis, teamed up with Damian and Stephen Marley of Ghetto Youths International a few years ago. Over the years his involvement with the label has not been particularly fruitful. Until now.
Damian Marley has produced Christopher Ellis debut EP Better Than Love, a set collecting five original tracks with mood and melodies taken from late the 60s soulful Jamaican rocksteady and reggae scene.
It’s reminiscent of Jimmy Cliff’s comeback album Rebirth with influences from the often overlooked producer Leslie Kong as well as the early works from masterminds such as Clive Chin and Joe Gibbs.
Christopher Ellis’ versions of his father’s material has been average and I haven’t been convinced by the man’s talent until now. He definitely carries his father’s legacy and I’m sure this EP would have made his father very proud.