Reggae scion Damian Marley is prepping his largely self-produced fourth studio album, Stony Hill, which is scheduled for October.
This marks Marley’s first solo release since 2006 when he dropped the critically acclaimed Welcome To Jamrock, which garnered him one of his two Best Reggae Album Grammy awards. The other was for his prior project, Half Way Tree in 2002, the album which first put Marley on the international map.
Stony Hill’s first single, “Nail Pon Cross,” debuts yesterday (August 4) on Billboard and is streaming exclusively on Tidal, where Damian is one of several artists/co-owners.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything grandiose when I was writing the lyrics, just day to day personal relationships,” Marley told Billboard in an exclusive interview.
“The song touches on the judgments we see in the media and in politics, but it is really about how we pass judgment on each other.”
The cover of the song sees Marley nailed to a crucifix a la Jesus Christ, with the concept detailing unfair condemnation against people because of their flaws, beliefs or even the colour of their skin.
The video for Nail Pon Cross (Jamaican patois for “nailed on the cross”) directed by Darren Craig, was filmed in Los Angeles in mid-July and is scheduled for a debut on Tidal on Aug. 9.
It evokes a preeminent example of heartless condemnation—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In its climactic scene Damian, dressed in a long sleeve shirt, jeans, a bandana around his forehead replacing a crown of thorns, is nailed to a cross alongside a young African-American male, a Mexican immigrant, a Muslim man and a Los Angeles cop.
For the Nail Pon Cross video, Marley found inspiration in Nas’s forceful 1999 Hype Williams-directed video for “Hate Me Now.”
“The imagery in Nas’s video was made to look like a modern depiction of Christ’s crucifixion, that’s where I got the idea for the Nail Pon Cross video,” said Damian.
“I haven’t seen Kanye’s Rolling Stone cover and Madonna’s energy and message is a whole lot different than mine; they thrive on controversy and I am not doing this to be controversial, this is to represent the judgments that people make so if someone has a problem with the video, that is exactly what the song is talking about.”
Eleven years ago, Damian Marley released Welcome to Jamrock, the Gold-certified winner of the 2006 Best Reggae Album Grammy, with its powerfully gritty title track winning the Best Urban/Alternative performance Grammy, a first for a Jamaican artist.
Since then, Damian’s busy schedule has included recording the SuperHeavy album as a member of a short-lived supergroup that included Mick Jagger and Joss Stone and working with Nas on the critically lauded Distant Relatives.
He has also released his Set Up Shop mixtape series and occasional hits such as the chart-topping Affairs of the Heart and Gunman World to keep his fans happy while also embarking on several production ventures.
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