Review : Damian Marley - Distant Relatives (ft. Nas)
EwFew best-of-both-worlds collaborations work as well as Distant Relatives, which pairs Nas' incendiary rhymes with the keening hooks and global rhythms that Bob Marley's youngest son favors. Together they vent assorted complaints — war, poverty, Nas' divorce battle with Kelis — in righteous tones that only occasionally lapse into preachiness. B+...full text
GuardianExpanding on the collaboration begun on the track Road to Zion on Marley's 2005 album Welcome to Jamrock, Distant Relatives traces hip-hop's roots to Africa via Jamaican dancehall and reggae, which explains why the fusion of rapper Nas's blistering raps and reggae royal Marley's compelling, world-weary deliveries sounds so natural. It's thoughtful, sincere, weighty stuff, tackling subjects from African poverty to the diamond trade without sounding preachy or schmaltzy. Nas is at his best addressing "those who get left behind" on Strong Will Continue, while Marley has inherited his father Bob's knack for simple phrases that hit home, notably Tribes At War's "Everyone deserves to earn, every child deserves to learn". An eclectic musical backdrop sounds more comfortable with reggae than acoustic guitars and pop, and Count Your Blessings' lyrics celebrating "love and assurance, new health insurance" jar somewhat. But tunes as strong as the eerie, haunting Patience and troubled reggae Leaders ("They took our leaders and lynched them") will prove difficult to deny....full text
BbcWhen Nas confirmed this collaboration with Damian Marley, he mentioned how hip hop and reggae are intertwined. Documented history agrees: hip hop exploded from the projects of New York only after taking inspiration from Jamaican sound system culture. (Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop book of 2005 explores these roots.) This set’s title is a nod to a mutual lineage that stretches back to Africa – its artwork features an image of Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia when the country defended itself from invading Italian forces in the late 19th century.
With common backgrounds considered, it’s disappointing that collaborative projects featuring prominent artists from these fields haven’t yet delivered a worthwhile album. Marley’s 2005 release Welcome to Jamrock was a step forwards, but Distant Relatives represents an accomplished attempt to go further, fusing traits with few discernable flaws. It succeeds where previous “Artist A feat. Artist B” efforts have not by allowing space aplenty for its twin protagonists to shine, neither compromising their strengths to play second fiddle while the other steals the spotlight....full text
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