International Hip Hop superstar Nas and Grammy-winning artist Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley join creative forces to release this highly anticipated and exciting 2010 collaboration. This is an album created by the two serious ar... more »tists to explore and celebrate the correlations and deep-rooted connections between reggae and Hip Hop, tracing both sounds back to the African motherland that is both the cradle of humanity and the wellspring of mankind's music. The project features the signature instrumentation and musicianship of Marley with the hard-hitting beats and lyrics of Nas. Distant Relatives traces the direct line from Dancehall Reggae's breakthrough moment 40 years ago to the rise of Hip Hop several years later.« less
International Hip Hop superstar Nas and Grammy-winning artist Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley join creative forces to release this highly anticipated and exciting 2010 collaboration. This is an album created by the two serious artists to explore and celebrate the correlations and deep-rooted connections between reggae and Hip Hop, tracing both sounds back to the African motherland that is both the cradle of humanity and the wellspring of mankind's music. The project features the signature instrumentation and musicianship of Marley with the hard-hitting beats and lyrics of Nas. Distant Relatives traces the direct line from Dancehall Reggae's breakthrough moment 40 years ago to the rise of Hip Hop several years later.
""Distant relatives" is a collaborative effort by Rapper Nas and Reggae singer Damian Marley (Bob Marley's son). Recorded with a live band, it's a Reggae/Hip hop hybrid which works rather well. Both had previously collaborated on the track "Road to Zion" from Marley's album "Welcome to Jamrock", and from thence came the idea for this. Most of the lyrics revolve about Africa (poverty, AIDS, the diamond trade without sounding corny or heavy handed) and proceeds will go towards building a school in an African country.
"Tribes at war" has African percussion, Arabic strings and a cameo from K'Naan. "Everyone deserves to earn, every child deserves to learn" sings Marley in his world weary delivery while K'Naan asks "I drink poison then vomit diamonds, I gave you Mandela, Black Dalai Lamas, I gave you music, you enthused in my kindness, so how dare you reduce me to Donny Imus?". Damien had previously appeared on the track "I come prepared" from K'Naan's album "Troubadour".
"Strong will continue" has a marching beat and electric guitars (with some semi-biographical rapping from Nas touching on his ex and alimony payments) while the beautiful and lilting "Leaders" features Damian's brother Stephen. It sounds like a Bob Marley classic.
"Count your blessings" is a gently stomping horn-peppered number finding Marley thankful for love and assurance, new health insurance, strength and endurance, and urging us to do the same, while "Land of promise" is a cover of a song by Dennis Brown featuring the Reggae legend himself. It is a slow burning Dub with lyrics seeing a new Africa with Ethiopia the capital.
"In his own words" features lovely jangly guitars, hand claps, a choir, and Stephen Marley again, and "Patience" is a beautiful ballad with a mournful lament for a chorus.
"My generation" has a children's choir singing "My generation will make a change" with Joss Stone complementing the choir and Lil Wayne dropping a few verses telling us "This generation I'm a represent, a generation led by a black president... So when you finish reading Revelations, thank God for my generation". Stone repays a favour as Nas appeared on the track "Governmentalist" on her "Colour me free" album.
Closing is the almost seven minute long "Africa must wake up", a lush string-swathed slow burning Dub with another appearance from K'Naan and a great guitar solo. The lyrics teach us Africa is a land that gave the world the first architect, philosophers, astronomers, prophets, doctors, and from where all the world's religions originated. This is my favourite song.
Production is largely handled by Damian whose talent Nas compared to Quincy Jones. As beautiful and moving as the music is, the lyrics are even deeper and educative. "We're all distant relatives, no matter where you're from, where you live, how near how far, Africa, China, Japan, Afghanistan, Israel, we're all family" to quote Nas from "Africa must wake up"."
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
iumak | 05/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rapper Nas (Son of Jazz Musician Olu Dara), and Reggae artist, Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley (Son of the legendary Bob Marley) deliver a truly unique listening experience. Though, as artists who excel in their respective fields, it isn't really a surprise to many that their joint LP is pure gold.
The bulk of the production is handled by Marley, and it consists of an array of innovative rhythms never before heard on a rap or reggae album. Distant Relatives opens up with one of these unconventional tracks, simply titled, 'As We Enter'. This is a really bouncy track that is meant to solidify the duo's readiness. I loved this song because of how intense it was and Nas did a great job with the hook. This chorus is catchy but it also establishes the duo's dominance in the worlds of hiphop and reggae. "The kings is [are] back, time to return the crown"
The album doesn't continue down the road of intensity however. After the first 3 tracks or so things get fairly mellow. This isn't bad though, because the songs are still good. Just don't expect to be pumping your fists all the way throughout the LP.
Things start to heat up again at 'Dispear' which clearly has more of an African influence to it. The whole song feels very tribal and aggressive. It's as if someone where being chased through a jungle of some sorts. The lyrics are also very impressive and I'm reminded of the brilliance of Nas' last Untitled LP when I hear him speak again.
After Dispear, things only continue to get better. 'Land of Promise' is an amazing song, and more Reggae/Bob Marley esque than anything else presented to us thus far. I thought it was great because it showed that although these two are doing something completely different, they can still pull back and add elements of their original selves, when needed.
'My Generation' is the infamous song that includes a Lil Wayne feature. Surprisingly, his verse isn't too "different" so he isn't the burden that fans thought he would initially be. The chorus is a lovely culmination of children's voices singing, speaking on how their generation will change the world. Aww
Things end on a beautiful note with the catchy, "Africa Must Wake Up". I first heard this song on a performance video and I was blow away by how good it was. This is also the kind of song that has a good message, which is always an added bonus. The perfect way to close out an amazing, AMAZING CD
Iumak gives this album a 10/10. If you buy one CD this year, let it be this one. Don't download it for free, purchase this however you can. Music is terrible these days (See my other CD Reviews for details lol) so when we get good music, we have to support and appreciate it. I encourage everyone who hasn't tried Distant Relatives out, to go out and buy this right now."
Brandi Singleton | 05/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am at a loss for words after listening to this album. I can't think of the last time I have heard such a powerful, complete, well-rounded body of work. This album is a MUST BUY. Nas is at his best lyrically...which is saying a lot since when he is just coasting he is still miles ahead of most rappers. Damian is great lyrically & on the production of this album. This is the most cohesive effort I have heard in years & by far the best two-genre collaboration I have ever heard. This album deserves all of the critical acclaim, Grammy's and everything else. It is THAT good."
Return To Zion
M-20 | 05/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nasir Jones is one of the most influential and most powerful emcee in the rap game, from the classic storytelling from illmatic to the more political socio rap from Nas today, Nas is a veteran in the music business. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley is one of the most well known reggae artists of this generation, and being the youngest/last son of the reggae legend Bob Marley, Damian knows a little bit about making good music with all types of sounds. These two unlikely duo did a song together back in 2005 on Damian Marleys album Welcome to Jamrock called Road To Zion, which was an instance classic. If listeners ever heard that song, they don't know anything yet.
This is album takes Hip Hop and Reggae to another level, every song on here is truly an inspiration to the human soul and really makes you feel the poverty thats going on in the motherland of Africa. Each song has a purpose whether it be to lift up your spirits, directly hit the human conscious, or start a revolt, this album is really about starting a new revolution. Nas and Damian's lyrical delivery is really on point on this album, even though I believe that Nas is one of the best lyricsts the music business has to offer, there are times where Damian Marley outshines Nas. The production is a joy to listen too, no track sounds the same, and each song has a specific instrument used where the beat surrounds around. This album is one of the best Hip Hop albums I've heard in a long long time, and reggae album as well, even though its not your typcial reggae album. THis album is truly a revelation and will soon become an untimely classic.
1) As We Enter - A great start to the album, the beat makes you wanna get up and dance, but also wanna kill somebody at the same time. Damian and Nas go back and forth with the rhymes and its a real treat. Nas lyrically destroys the track and lets everyone know that him and Damian are the Kings of what they do and they ain't playin. 5/5
2) Tribes At War feat. K'naan - In guerilla warfare this would be the music they would be playing before a big battle. The african precussions are used to create a battle atmosphere, and makes you imagine a circle of dancers dancing around a big fire. K'naan arrives dropping a good verse and the chorus would make you wanna go to war. 5/5
3) Strong Will Continue - this is one of the most bone chilling songs on the album. This is a song of hope, but also a song of uprising. The main theme is Resistance, finding a reason to go on even though you are at a time where hope is nowhere to be seen. Strong bass, and guitars are used in this song, and Damian outshines Nas on this one, but Nas kills it with the last verse. 5/5
4) Leaders feat. Stephen Marley - this song features brother of Damian, Stephen Marley who provides the hook. This song has more of a classic reggae feel with the instrumentals. Good lyrics by Damian and Nas, overall good song. 4.5/5
5) Friends - A more african feel than the rest of the album, with the backround vocals and strings and strong bumping of the drums. A more depressing feel but more educative storytelling. The song tells a good story of true friends and how long they can and will last. 5/5
6) Count Your Blessings - I Love this f***in song. This is my personal favorite on the album. The song is the most chill of the album and will just keep your toes tapping and head nodding. It's really hard to not like this track, its all about love. Damian and Nas provide verses that have a positive outlook of life. One of the best feel good songs I've ever heard in my life, and teaches people how to give thanks and appreciation to the one life they have. 5/5
7) Dispear - this track aquires pianos and strong choirs. This is a song of warriors with sounds of weaponry in the backround. The title of this song pretty much tells it all. Nas is the lyrical king, and outshines Damian on this one. Damian is truly a musical genius combining congas, strings and piano so smoothly. Great song. 5/5
8) Land of Promise feat. Dennis Brown - the theme of this song is AFRICA. The promise lands and the origins of the people. Its a storytelling of returning to the promise lands. Classsic reggae sounds and Nas adds his touch. 4/5
9) In His Words feat. Stephen Marley - the overall song is bless. Song gives strength to those that need it and gives you an extra push to keep moving forward. Its a beautiful song about going to hard times knowing that God will watch over you, and to stay faithful. Good message, good song. 5/5
10) Nah Mean - this is probably the only filler track on the album, to me the song seemed out of place, but its not a bad song. Its a hard song that showcases that if Damian would ever become a rapper he could hang with the rest. The beat goes soooooo hard and the lyrics are gangsta. Its a raw song but it seems a bit out of place. 4/5
11) Patience - all about lyrics on this track, filled with sounds of Africa. The chorus is memorable and eary. This is deep and its very hard for me to elaborate the impact, but the listeners will have different opinions. I for one, love this track. 5/5
12) My Generation feat. Joss Stone & Lil Wayne - The song for the children, filled with kids singing the chorus provided with the vocals of soul singer Joss Stone is a nice touch. Damian opens up the track with a spiritual verse, Nas proves that his vocab is mad crazy and his flow is incredible. I was amazed to hear that they would actually let Lil Wayne be on an album like this. Its pretty rare to hear Lil Wayne do a verse without cursing whatsoever, if Lil Wayne could put this much effort in his verses in every song he does, he could become legendary. A great song. 5/5
13) Africa Must Wake Up feat. K'naan - an ode to Africa and notifying that the continent is in trouble and people need to wake up and help their fellow people in need. The album couldn't end on a higher note, Nas and Damian couldn't made a better album. This unstoppable duo just proved that two different people from two different parts of the world that do two different types of music could come together and make great music and work as one to do good. This album is a milestone in how music can influence and help the world as a whole not just themselves. 5/5
Classic plain and simple
E. Schutt | Brooklyn, NY | 05/18/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great hip-hop meets conscious modern reggae. A must have this album will be the Bob Marley-Legend album of this generation."