"Distant Relatives" by Nas and Damien Marley

Nas and Damien Marley
Distant Relatives

Universal Republic
2010

Review

Nas is one of my favorite rappers. I don't always like the music he puts out though. To my ears, his output has been inconsistent. But the man has released one certified classic album and more than a few classic songs off of less than classic albums ("One Mic" still gets me every time). I have love for Hip-Hop and Nas is a big part of why that is.

Reggae and Dancehall are two genres of music that I also love. The problem is I never know what's good in those genres. I know Damien Marley for being Bob Marley's son and for that "Welcome to Jamrock" classic that they play on KROQ when they want to be cool (I think rock-radio seems to only know Bob Marley and "Welcome To Jamrock" when it comes to Reggae music).

The combination of Nas and Reggae wouldn't make sense to most people. But I think if you take the cues from "Welcome To Jamrock" you can sort of see how it might work.

Well, it works. It's amazing actually.

I'm mad at myself for waiting for so long to pick this album up. Nas is at his best here. He's somewhat subdued to fit the more instrumental music. Take "Leaders" for example, the music is on some island meets Sade vibe and Nas crushes the beat with the skill of a veteran. When I say "subdued" I don't want you to take it to mean that he's bad, it's more that he's confident enough to let himself become part of the music. Damien and Nas weave in and out of the tracks seamlessly. There's great chemistry and I really think they bring the best out of each other. The best way for me to describe their energy and performances is to say that they have turned themselves into instruments in an orchestra, blending in for the benefit of the music. MC'ing is usually about being the focus and being the biggest ego on the track, none of that happens here.

It isn't exactly Hip-Hop, but neither is it really Reggae. It's interesting to think about this blending of genres because Hip-Hop itself is supposed to be a blend of everything. So here you have two artists meeting each other halfway and created something that is entirely new and yet you can still see where the influences lie.

I want more.

4.385 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. As We Enter (02:28) 4
2. Tribes at War (feat. K'Naan) (04:30) 4
3. Strong Will Continue (06:01) 5
4. Leaders (feat. Stephen Marley) (04:19) 5
5. Friends (04:49) 5
6. Count Your Blessings (04:23) 5
7. Dispear (05:53) 5
8. Land of Promise (feat. Dennis Brown) (03:53) 5
9. In His Own Words (feat. Stephen Marley) (05:00) 3
10. Nah Mean (04:08) 4
11. Patience (05:45) 4
12. My Generation (feat. Lil Wayne & Joss Stone) (03:59) 4
13. Africa Must Wake Up (feat. K'Naan) (06:40) 4