DAMIAN MARLEY & NAS / “Distant Relatives Mixtape”

distant relatives 13.jpg I’m going to be brief about this one mainly because the music speaks so eloquently for itself. I and a number of other music lovers were almost convinced that Nas had given up on being a serious artist. Nas—super-talented, the boy got griot in his blood, passed on to him from his daddy, jazz and blues musician Olu Jones. My assessment was Nas hit his peak with his debut and never again reached so deeply for a full recording. But, my man is back with a concept and a whole mouthful of wonderfulness to make you think, make you stop, peep the scene, and check oneself to ask “am I doing what all I want to be doing, should be doing.” Damian we already knew was fierce and his rasta orientation squares easily with the pan-africanism that the name Distant Relatives forthrightly pushes just by uttering the syllables. Yes we are distant but we are also relatives. And who is this we? Well, listen: it’s everybody, we are all related. At the same time we’ve got a lot of Africa work to do, a lot of Africa to relate to. It’s been a long, long time since an African American rapper as popular as Nas has openly proclaimed allegiance to Africa. Concert Photography by David Oppenheimer Plus, the shit is funky. The hip hop and the reggae fusing, different elements pushing to the forefront from song to song, but always there is both a seriousness and a joy flowing from this collaboration. And it’s a collaboration that really works together and not just two men alternating doing their separate things. distant relatives 35.jpg They trade verses on some songs, one starts a line, the other finishes. Sure they have numbers that feature one or the other but in the main they really are working together and the fact that they are truly working together is an important statement. These tracks are taken from two different sessions. The first five selections are from a live in-studio BBC 1xtra radio program recorded in London. The remaining selections are from a May 17, 2010 performance at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. distant relatives 27.jpg I am very impressed that the live performances are on point. If you get a chance to see this show, you might want to reserve tickets at the earliest possible moment. Unfortunately, these recordings are not commercially available. Fortunately, however, sharing music is the raison d’etre of BoL. So, whether you get to see Damian and Nas, here is close to an hour of live versions of music from their new and aptly titled album, Distant Relatives. —Kalamu ya Salaam Distant Relatives Mixtape Playlist distant relatives 41.jpg BBC 1xtra Live Session 01 “As We Enter” 02 “Road To Zion” 03 “Welcome To Jamrock” 04 “Made You Look” 05 “Land of Promise” distant relatives 28.jpg Highline Ballroom, NYC 5-17-10 06 “As We Enter” 07 “Ancient People” 08 “Nah Mean” 09 “Count Your Blessings” 10 “Patience (Sabali)” 11 “One Mic” 12 “Land of Promise” 13 “Africa Must Wake Up”

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