What happens when you take one of the illest mc’s of all-time and put him on a track with a “toasting” reggae sensation? You get distant relatives. I’m not referring to your typical long lost cousin kind of distant relative, I’m talking about the family member who you never met but instantly click with. Although Nasir Jones and Damian Marley’s respective lineages don’t intersect, their musical collaboration will make any listener think they were fraternal twins who complemented each other with each breath they took on the mic. Today these musical geniuses who combined forces a little over a year ago release their collaborative album entitled, Distant Relatives.
The thirteen track album takes the listener on a journey from the economically depressed areas in Zimbabwe, to Ghana, to the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, to Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. This socially and politically conscious album stems from what Damian Marley says is “ […] talking humanity. Our people. It’s stemming from Africa being the cradle of civilization.” Listening to the album was like listening to two gifted rhetoricians present a rhythmically laced lecture on the African diaspora. Nas’ gruff New York city drawl coupled with Marley’s Jamaican argot harmoniously tell stories of finding salvation in the promise land, youth uplift, and changing the world through leadership.
One song that particularly touched me on the album was “My Generation”. The song starts out with the high-pitched voices of a youth choir led by Joss Stone proclaiming “My generation will make a change/This generation will make a change”. Although Damian Marley and Lil’ Wayne both spit good verses on this track Nas’ verse really spoke to me. In fact, the first time I heard it I rewound it back to his verse about four times.