Nas & Damian Marley
Distant Relatives


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ryan Flatley EMERITUS
May 18th, 2010 | 95 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nas and Marley prove to be a formidable, unsuspecting collaboration on Distant Relatives.

When I first heard that Nas and Damian Marley were collaborating, I was a tad skeptical. After all, Nas is one of today’s best rappers coupled with the fact the man has defined his career from scratch. On the flipside, we have reggae/rap/jam rock artist Damian Marley, who has instant name recognition without even producing an album. I would say that qualifies as an unusual pairing, but that is one of the main reasons they produced Distant Relatives. In fact, it was worth wondering whether Distant Relatives would lean more towards Marley’s or Nas’ style and if the two styles would mix like that of oil and water. Well, that answer comes quicker than you would think.

Distant Relatives wastes no time as “As We Enter” provides a dynamic synergy in a call-and-response track that essentially sets up each owns personality and background. As Nas spits ‘and I got the guns’ Marley responds ‘I got the ganja’ it shows their goal of creating a “we one, together” vibe through a loose quip of their preconceived notions (and truths). With that, “As We Enter” showcases how effortlessly Nas and Marley make what could have been an awkward pairing. Along with “As We Enter,” more Nas-esque tracks include “Tribes at War,” “Strong Will Continue,” “Dispear,” and “Nah Mean,” but are certainly not limited to a simple big-shot rapper influence as Marley’s vocals flow naturally. These tracks are powerful, driving forces within Distant Relatives that keep up what is otherwise a rather relaxing album. Marley shows his tenacity vocally specifically in “Nah Mean,” as a thunderous beat reminds us of the finer moments seen in Illmatic.

However the album is hardly one-dimensional. The use of a full band to record Distant Relatives really enhanced the jam-rock/reggae geared tracks. “My Generation” plays as a gospel jam, with a cameo from Lil’ Wayne, whose presence on the album was quizzical, if not downright awkward given his general raunchy style. In fact, the slower paced songs are fitting for any sort of summit for a slew of causes, specifically “Africa Must Wake Up,” which Marley’s hypnotizing chorus leads through Nas’ verses and K’Naan’s bridge that encapsulate a fitting closing track. In summation, the tracks can tend to seem drawn out given their length and the quickness of “As We Enter,” but are true testaments to Marley’s reggae background and their willingness to test uncharted waters.

Nas and Damian Marley are a formidable pairing, seemingly on the same level throughout most of the album in thought and overall presence. Distant Relatives is an important reminder that we are all one together, no matter how different the background, and thus proving Nas and Marley’s ‘hypothesis’ that even though they are hardly similar, they can join to create fantastic music, even if it's a track or two too many. Granted, they completed this album in a relatively short time, it begs the question how much they could grow if they worked with each other on future albums. At that point, they may not be such distant relatives.



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user ratings (221)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
TheIllmatics (4.5)
"This goes out to all the wisdom and knowledge seekers of the world."...

TheMabee (4)
...

dub sean (4.5)
Maybe they really are related....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Satellite
May 18th 2010


20826 Comments


Hmmm interesting. Good review.

MUNGOLOID
May 18th 2010


4350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Surprised to see the good feedback for this, need to check it out asap.

Bulldog
May 18th 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

I'll check this out, but I'm predicting a 2.5-3

Transport
May 18th 2010


25 Comments


not sure i like your concluding paragraph

Inveigh
May 18th 2010


25097 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm pretty interested in this, Road to Zion was a great song

Digging: Hail Mary Mallon - Bestiary

Satellite
May 18th 2010


20826 Comments


I'll check this out, but I'm predicting a 2.5-3

That's dumb.

reeshespeeshes
May 18th 2010


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Albums owns hard

Thor
May 18th 2010


10202 Comments


After all, Nas is one of today’s best rappers

eh...I don't know about that

O.J. Simpson
May 18th 2010


408 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nas's material is pretty inconsistent, but in a purely technical sense he's one of the better one. Not necessarily stylistically though.

Counterfeit
May 18th 2010


17819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^123

Want to get this.

O.J. Simpson
May 18th 2010


408 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's so much better than a lot of the crud Nas has put out recently, but there is still small remnants of garbage stuck to the bottom of even this.

Slipping Away
May 18th 2010


1261 Comments


as we enter is cool but I probably wont get this

HenchmanOfSanta
May 18th 2010


1900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nas is one of my favorite MCs, but I wasn't sure about this. I'll check it out when I get the chance.

O.J. Simpson
May 18th 2010


408 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is better than a LOT of just regular Nas material.

In fact:

1. Illmatic
2. It Was Written
3. Distant Relatives

for top 3 Nas albums.

O.J. Simpson
May 18th 2010


408 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is better than a LOT of just regular Nas material.

In fact:

1. Illmatic
2. It Was Written
3. Distant Relatives

for top 3 Nas albums.

MUNGOLOID
May 18th 2010


4350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn over stillmatic and hip hop is dead? if that's the case, then this is a straight-up buy for me.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 18th 2010


31475 Comments


it begs question

Missing "the"

Nice review, i'm alternating between a 3-3.5 at the moment, but it'll probably end up being the latter

Digging: Hyperdub - Hyperdub 10.4

O.J. Simpson
May 18th 2010


408 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

damn over stillmatic and hip hop is dead? if that's the case, then this is a straight-up buy for me.


well i'm one of those crazy people who thinks Stillmatic is kinda crap. But this is still REALLY GOOD.

qwe3
May 18th 2010


21369 Comments


^ If this is that good I'm getting it. Not expecting to like it more than Stillmatic though. That album was sweet.
Looks interesting though.

AtavanHalen
May 18th 2010


17927 Comments


Stillmatic isn't brilliant but I honestly think Hip-Hop is Dead is Nas' second best record.

Very keen to hear this.



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