The hype surrounding the release of Nas and Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley’s joint album ‘Distant Relatives,’ dated back to last summer when the two toured together in the ‘Rock The Bells’ festival. After the long wait, the album has finally arrived and has fulfilled its expectations providing what every musician, or music group should do by prioritizing good music, with a meaningful message over everything else.
Last time we heard from Nas was the ‘untitled’ album, a thoughtful depiction of American oppression done well enough that it should be regarded as a historical artifact just as much as any piece of well constructed literature, or famous speech that are considered in that respect.
‘Distant Relatives,’ takes on the thesis of ‘untitled’ and applies it to the Africans in Diaspora across the world that share a relationship regardless whether they’re from Kingston Jamaica, or Queens New York. A philosophy that has came from the likes of Marcus Garvey (who they quote on the inseam of the album), now being introduced to hip-hop which is in dire need of thought provoking music that only comes from very few artists in the game now.
The lyrics on this album are nothing less than what you would expect from the greatest lyricist of all time, and are strongly complimented by Damian Marley’s equally potent, non-relenting deposition he harmonizes. Marley shows his best in the song ‘Patience’ with the lines ‘Paying no mind to the youths-Cause It’s not like the future depends on it,’ and in the same verse ‘Evangelists making a living on the videos of ribs of the little kids.’ Nas epitomizes his best in the song ‘Dispear’ with his contrast of the ‘masters and the masses’ in which he pits the heads of Wall St. and other ‘financial forecasters’ against all of those who are not as fortunate, who make up the masses.
In anything, you really can’t determine its value after one week. This album is comprised of very good songs throughout which is why it is a very good CD. However, it’s one or two epic songs short to be considered an instant classic. There seems to be a lack of versatility amongst the songs as far as production goes, but the genius in lyrics and content prevail over the redundancy to make it a quality CD.
Whether it develops into a timeless classic where two of the greats came together to create a new sound in hip-hop and a valuable reference for social commentary? Give it a couple years.