Dancehall, the bastard child of reggae and the forgotten father of hip-hop, has been plagued with ambivalence from American audiences. Sean Paul scored extraordinary success with Dutty Rock and now The Trinity, but his dancehall is of bubblegum variety when compared to compatriots like Beenie Man and Vybz Kartel, whose music has proven too odd, indecipherable or homophobic for our taste. Jamaica’s other current trend, a roots reggae revival led by the romantic crooner Richie Spice, has failed to cross Caribbean waters. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley has managed to transcend these barriers, and not solely thanks to his family name. Last year’s “Welcome to Jamrock” blends hip-hop, reggae and dancehall, and rather than diluting any single element, invents an infectious and unapologetically modern reggae sound. Without trying to replicate his father’s music, Damian shares a lyrical focus on personal and social redemption. The song “Move” brilliantly samples the elder Marley’s “Exodus,” while Damian spits swift rhymes about struggle and survival, giving the reggae of his father’s time a twenty-first-century update. (Madeleine Bair)
August 27 at Charter One Pavilion.