Though Nas thought hip-hop was dead three years ago, he’s currently working to resurrect the genre, and celebrate African ancestry, alongside Grammy-winning artist Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.
Nas and Damian are presently in the studio recording a joint album titled Distant Relatives. The Queensbridge rapper’s hard-hitting lyrics will be ever-present throughout the effort, supported by the reggae artist-producer’s signature instrumentation.
The album, named for the bond the artists share, showcases a common interest in their African lineage, which inspired each record both musically and lyrically.
“As an American, we have so much even in a so-called recession that a neighborhood like Queensbridge or Red Hook is Beverly Hills compared to the way people are living in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Ghana,” Nas said in a statement. “So obviously if we making records with that theme, there’s gonna be things I want to build on. I think Africa has a lot to teach us.”
“We know there are dire situations here in America, but when you look at America—with public libraries and free education—these are not opportunities most Africans have,” states Damian. “It’s a completely different scale of trying to help people. Africa is the backbone of the world and the foundation of everything and Africans are in a situation where they need help more than anywhere else.”
Nas and Damian previously collaborated on the latter’s track, “Road to Zion,” off his 2005 album, Welcome to Jamrock.