One is arguably the most iconic lyricist in rap history; the other is a reggae star and the son of a legendary musician/activist (Bob Marley). So when Nas and Damian Marley announced plans to collaborate back in February 2009, fans from both genres eagerly anticipated the result.
Originally, the idea was to release just an EP, but when the duo hit the studio to record last year, they decided to turn it into a full record, entitled Distant Relatives.
“Reggae is one of the roots of hip-hop. Hip-hop music has helped reggae in its transition periods. Together we kind of wanted to give people that. To find the roots of reggae and hip-hop,” Nas told the Omaha World Herald back in June 2009. In the same interview, the Queens rapper also discussed the meaning behind the album’s name: “We’re in a recession. It’s a hard time for America. People are killing themselves over jobs, but we take for granted what we do have here… In the world, we’re family. We’re all relatives in a way. So we named the album Distant Relatives because it talks to all people.”
Marley and Nas will alsofocus their attention on the difficulties in America and in American urban ghettos, and relate those experiences through the duo’s shared African ancestry.
Distant Relatives’ first single, “As We Enter”, leaked back in June. Over a smooth reggae bass and bright horn riffs, Nas and Marley effortlessly toss rhymes back and forth, focusing more on their ensuing collaboration and less on the socio-political front Nas had previously promised. The second song, “Strong Will Continue”, is just as sharp, both musically and lyrically, as the rappers channel Tupac by presenting an uplifting, inspirational ode to those who continue to find themselves in a hole.
Distant Relatives is set for an April 20 release date (seems appropriate for these two). The official website for the record can be found here.
On top of the two singles, I also posted a small trailer of Marley and Nas working in the studio (courtesy of RapBasment.com)