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.
From out of the blue comes Damian, Julian and Stephen Marley’s first album on their Ghetto Youths International label. The title is taken from Damian Marley’s hard-hitting 2011 released single Set Up Shop. And several of the 14 tracks are in the same uncompromising and ferocious style.
The set contains a few already released cuts, including Damian Marley’s title track and his romantic Affairs of the Heart, but also a number of new scorchers, one from him and several from fresh talents, such as the conscious Black-Am-I, Ziggy Marley’s eldest son Daniel Bambaata Marley and Jo Mersa, Stephen Marley’s son.
Set Up Shop Vol. 1 is a bold and futuristic album that takes its influences from a number of genres and moods. It’s mellow and soft, like Daniel Marley’s sugary Treat You Right, but also rough, tough and grim, for example the dismal and provocative In Depence or the pounding heavyweight collaboration Go Hard with Damian Marley, Wayne Marshall, Aidonia, I-Octane, Assassin aka Agent Sasco, Bounty Killer and Vybz Kartel sharing microphone duties.
Most surprising is however Christopher Ellis – son of the great Alton Ellis – and Bay C from T.O.K’s catchy dancehall doo-whopper Don’t Change Your Number, or, for that matter, Damian Marley’s new nugget Dem Neva Mek It with its rocking R&B piano.
This star studded, eclectic and genre crossing compilation showcases an exciting mix of themes and talents as well as a new generation of Marley performers. These fresh voices certainly bode well for the future.
Set Up Shop Vol. 1 is currently available on iTunes worldwide.