Review Roundup: Nas & Damian Marley – ‘Distant Relatives’

Distant Relatives

Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley bridge the continental gap on their joint album Distant Relatives, in stores and online today. But did the rap and reggae stars find common ground with critics? Find out below.

Entertainment Weekly: Few best-of-both-worlds collaborations work as well as Distant Relatives … Together they vent assorted complaints in righteous tones that only occasionally lapse into preachiness. B+

USA Today: The rapper and the reggae star connect the dots between the music of Africa, the Caribbean, and America on this potent and often provocative collaboration. Their lyrical acumen, sense of history, and insightful commentary give the project depth. 3.5 out of 4

Los Angeles Times: Nas and Marley have created an intermittently novel and vexing record, one that proves that the two genres need not be so distant, provided they can avoid didacticism. 2.5 out of 4

Rolling Stone: Having spent his last album pondering American racism, Nas takes his new one to the motherland with buddy (and Bob’s son) Damian Marley. Though they decry Africa’s ills, they also offer hopeful visions on the Lil Wayne-assisted “My Generation.” 3 out of 5

SPIN: At times, the results are a bit aimless; even a cute kids’ chorus can’t save “My Generation” from Joss Stone’s wailing or Lil Wayne’s awkward motivational turn. When the two principles catch a groove, though, it’s impressive, as on the unrelenting organ buzz of leadoff single “As We Enter” and the riotous “Nah Mean.” 3 out of 5

The Guardian: 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.” 4 out of 5

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “As We Enter,” “Tribes at War,” “Strong Will Continue,” “My Generation”



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49 Comments

  1. ture art

    rap up the album sicck. Pree patience n listen gong cross x mix x fire x mad sick maddd

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  2. TOTALLY

    BIG ALBUM.X

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  3. genius

    Album is pure GENIUS! Best album of the year, and will resonate years to come….

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  4. Harryking

    Real music

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  5. random head

    The album concept is pure genius, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. I would have loved to see a wider variety of producers on an album featuring both Nas and Damion Marley. Unfortunately, only Damion Marley produced and therefore only 2 out of the 13 songs on the album are worth listening to. The lyrics and concepts are cool, but most of the music blows. The first track is good, and Nah Mean is cool, but the rest are kinda “meh”. Too bad. I was looking forward to this album. I guess ego rules all.

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  6. kody

    @random head……………..u must be smoking crack 2 say only two tracks are nice on the album , u are either a young teen from the suburbs who doesn’t know what music is or your just smoking crack , this album is a FUCKING CLASSIC U DIRT BAG !!!!!!!!

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  7. pap-game

    dispear is the best in tha album

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  8. Jay Jay

    I got to agree with random head, to me there only like several tracks that were really good but unfortunately the rest are kinda meh, but still good. the album was hyped up, so I guest my expectations were little high for this one

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  9. renz

    Anybody who dont like this album is wack and they prolly like wacka flocka, The only corny song on the cd is the song with Lil Wayne.

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  10. UltraKid

    Every song on the album is great even Lil’ Wayne.

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  11. Mr Xclusive

    ^ even? wow the only good song is with wayne

    idiot

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  12. yes!

    Los angelas times are haters and spin and rolling stone lol! All the other rating wee good!

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  13. Tito

    The whole album is ill . . .like nas said its not hip hop its not rap its some different shit . . i wasn’t expecting no ill rap beats or welcome to jamrock beats i was expecting Distant Relatives.
    for the ones who said only 2 tracks where hot
    just stick to your drake. even though Wayne didn’t slack in his bars.

    the whole concept behind this album is crazy they deserve some Grammys.

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  14. Tito

    i meant to write its not rap its not reggae on those first 2 lines lol -____-

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  15. findthelove

    I agree. The album is good, a classic, but the best song is with Lil Wayne. He kills everything in his path, he’s the rapper eater. Young Mula Baby, Free Weezy. Welcome home Gucci.

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  16. victor

    i really really liked the album it was a breath of fresh air in this day and time, where all one could listen to is lil wayne and drake. during this time i went back in time and found inspiration with bob marley, the beatles, pink floyd, 90s hip hop and john lennon. my concept of music has evolved, and i loved the route this album took its both inpirational and mellowed out. Although wayne is on it aka lil wack i pretend like his not, i give it a 5 out of 5. favorite track Land of promise. for those who dont like it and actually think that lil wayne is the only good thing in this album and also think that his actually a good rapper go suck a fat dick (no disrespect) u are just horrible people.

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  17. greg

    Album is a bit tired except for one or two songs. Personally cannot stand the way joss stone sings. They should have left her out of my generation. Lil weezy did a great job.

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  18. Me Says

    Best album of the year. Period. If you don’t agree, it’s probably because you only heard it and didn’t actually listen.

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  19. omega

    FINDYOURLOVE stop be a fuckin stan because i can name 10 songs better then waynes verse. fuck lil waynes wack ass.

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  20. Kevin

    Album is not genius or art.. don’t overdo it. But i’d be damned if i said it wasn’t worth a buy. Nas finally hits an innovative note and it’s great.

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  21. DARRELL

    This album is powerful, brilliant, groundbreaking, thought provoking, inspiring…i could go on. when I hear tribal war…the mesmerizing bass line, the african choir and damian marley’s chorus, then nas comes in like a lyrical assasin over bongo drums and orchestral strings. this is brilliant! one of my fav tracks.

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  22. Lou

    hands down a classic. check the lyrics. this is real music. something we have been waiting for a long time.

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  23. Bravokid

    This is a classic album and good music through out that i have heard in a long time. You have to open your mind and heart to this album. Its almost a genre of music on its own. It isn’t the typical hip hop or reggae and majority of the songs have African influence musically. Most people who aren’t deep or spiritual would not gravitate towards it, for instance the people who commented about only liking 2 tracks. Thats their opinion but obviously they don’t know music period and are narrow minded, as My yute renz did seh dem prob wah hear some wacka flocka rubbish,or all a typical commercial beat wid nas and gong on it.This was an album of pure meaning and vision and they had a direction so it would not have worked with no other producers FUC@#$% FOOLS. I wouldn’t say that LA Times, Spin and rolling stones are haters i would say that they lack the ability and knowledge to understand this form of music. I’m sure they don’t know a lot of history or even really care about Africa and the countries of the world that suffer. This Album is brilliant Musically, lyrically and delivery. Immense Diverse Production

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  24. Tito

    to the people that say lil wayne is wak i mean trust me i use to say that buhh da dude has skills wen he could spit good bars he goes in. . its just that he does tha smart thing and does industry shit to get sales and popularity . . .even though i hate his voice and find it anoyyin wen he does that stupid lough wen da dude gets serious on tracks he goes in .
    and plus i bet all the ones who hate him and dis and dat only heard the mainstream songs.

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  25. Rick

    This isn’t a Lil Wayne album, he makes a guest appearance and does aight. Whoever says the only good song is the one with Lil Wayne, doesn’t know shit about music and need to stick to their Young Money, commercial pop rap garbage.

    This is the first time a Rap Artist and Reggae Artist has done a full length album together and the results are amazing. The content is incredible and the production, mostly done by Damian Marley himself is off the charts. They’ve done something special here and this is a breath of fresh air considering all the commercial crap getting air time these days. This is something for the true music, hip hop, reggae lovers out there, that are smart enough to understand some deeper content. You kids can have your lil wayne, drake, soulja boi and bow wow…

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  26. Eric M

    Greatest Album of Our time in addressing what other’s dare not to. “Patience” is the most thought provoking track on the Album and goes to prove that Damian is a Lyrical Genius. Nas also proves that no matter how materialistic a rapper can be, he can also steer the youth in the right direction. 5 out of 5. Perfection.

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  27. shreyas

    for real, this album is dope, been waitin for this ish to drop. peace

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  28. chad

    Best album since hip hop died along with Pac and Big. Listeners of Drake and all other skip pop artists will be lost listening to this album since “swag” isn’t even mentioned ONCE! Nas is the truth, If he would have died instead of Big, he would be crowned king. Damian also was ill on this album, definitely made Bob proud. I also was impressed with Wayne’s verse, it actually made sense. Album is by far worth the $10, but I must emphasize its not for the weak minded, dont be ignorant while listening to it. Read the lyrics as well, Damian says some deep shit; so does Nas. I think Distant Relatives will turn out just like Illmatic; number one ten years later once people realize its fire. I would like to see Jay z try to do this; PLEASE do not make an album with Linkin Park. 5/5

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  29. benson chimwemwe Hlongo

    one of the good albums to come out of hip hop dying age!

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  30. D

    This album is absolutely sick! If lil wayne or gucci are you favorite artist, then Keep It Pushing!
    I don’t believe that humans living on this planet could listen to this entire album and come to a conclusion that lil wayne killed it… huh? wtf? This album is for the Wise and Strong Individuals sick of hearing about guns gold teeth and cars.

    Thank The Almighty For Such an Album!

    Peace to the Gods & Earths

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  31. Logan

    What y’all smoking? There’s only two good songs on this album at best. They made it for a great cause, but it will soon be forgotten…

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  32. Tito

    ^^ do u hear yourself when you talk?

    that’s how i know you have no knowledge in hip hop culture or your just ignorant about it. read the lyrics see the message behind them and then come to me with your only 2 good songs, you probably only like my generation because Lil Wayne is in it and as we enter cause its catchy . . .man ignorance like yours should be forbidden.

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  33. XK

    This album isn’t made to please everyone and find favour with everyone – because truly, NaS’ music has never tried to do that! I suspect Damian’s too. The unique combination of their level of musical and artistic creativity “unfortunately” renders them “too much” in the eyes of so-called musical expert reviewers. Interestingly, the people who really get and understand the message love the LP! So really… no-one gives a f**k what the “expert reviews” say! Mull over this: Bob Marley never received a grammy while he was still alive because “expert reviewers” thought he was too serious and just ranted on about the plight of people in some messed up country – no-one wants to hear that! He hardly got press! And when he did, it was mostly unfavourable. But because the message in his music was meant for the people, it reached the people, and the people embraced and approved of it – which went far beyond where no “expert reviewer” could possibly go. The people have embraced this LP as such! In the times of sales-motivated rubbish music, it gives us hope that there are still those who are motivated by purpose and mission! 10/10!

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    Karo Reply:

    @XK, I couldn’t have said it better. No matter what head space I might be in, this album takes me to a place that gives me Hope. I am a black man in South Africa and we …(the world) need a bit more of this kind of artistry from time to time. Most of the current crop in Hip-Hop is actually disappointing …. but they are the slaves of whitey suit label execs looking purely for profit and not Art!!!

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  34. TT

    @XK…you spoke the truth and nothing but the truth. I mean…I’m all goose bumps right now. You hit it straight on the head. You should be a reviewer. 10/10.

    PATIENCE is on another level. I think people should take time to read the lyrics. It’s nothing like I ever heard in many years.

    Africa Must wake up!

    THIS ALBUM IS A CLASSIC!

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  35. Ras Antar

    Hopefully this album will help rescue rap from the hands of the satanic forces that now control it. People that don’t like this album are what Nas said on the album “ignorant & afraid of change.” This is the album of the year hands done.

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  36. a voice from a distant relative

    This album has opened my eyes.
    This album has opened my eyes to hip hop.
    Is it even hip hop? I dare not say, because I know nothing of the genre. I am more of a folk and acoustic, or psychedelic rock kind of guy, But this album is One of My Favorites. There is no track I do not like. The album is definitely worth listening to, and i don’t mean for pure entertainment, or for some beats at a party to dance to. This is stuff you sit down and dedicate an hour of your day to, n just a heads up: relax, massage your mind, cuz ur gonna do some thinking.

    I bought this album right away with no hesitation after i had heard it all the way through… and I’m a hardcore music pirating crook, i dont even remember when the last time i bought an album was… I just had to own it (sweet thing, it comes with a pamphlet with all the lyrics which is really helpful for me cuz sometimes i can’t make out what Damian is saying).

    I am currently in the search for truth, i find truth is hard to come across these days. There is just something about what Nas n Damian sing about that just stinks of truth. Many of the things i can’t put my finger on, probably because i was born into a life in which everything comes easily to me, and i dont have to struggle to live. i believe this makes me ignorant, but i believe this album will help me and others like me to unveil me from my ignorance. i am looking for wisdom and truth, and i don’t care if it means the crumbling of all that i perceived to be true. i only hope to be ready for it, even if it means some hurting and struggling. Like Nas and Damian say “Only the strong will continue … The victory’s found in truth … Stand up and fight if you know say you’re right and no you won’t ever fail / Tipping the scale and the wind shall prevail and the boat shall forever sail … come we got a journey to go” (from their song “Strong will Continue”)

    That’s all i got to say for now, but i would love to discuss the album and some of their songs in more depth (more so just hear what you have to say, my minds a sponge and i want more).

    Conclusion after all this: Great album; makes me want to do some research; just the beginning of new times come an increase in awareness and conciousness.

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  37. Crossfyah

    This album is a classic.the truth is never readily accepted as many prefer to be blind with ignorance.After watch they perform live in Copenhagen Denmark I decided to get the album.The songs connect on a level that is way deeper than the commercial crap being fed to people who need an awakening.The experience I had at the live show is something I can never fully explain,it was almost a spiritual kind of happiness its as if the music spoke to me.I listened to all the tracks and there is none that I’ve found fault with,just real music for the spirit.On the track ‘friends’I can still feel the drums speaking to me in a way that nothing else can to those with african blood.Amazing work and I do not care who likes this album but I love it.

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  38. Stilo

    Im on my way to buy this and support these ill artists. listen people…. Dare To be different!!

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  39. Emeka

    some of the smartest dummies cnt read the language of Egyptian mummies,

    Your 
real 
friends 
will 
serve 
you 
long
    Sunshine 
or 
rain
    Your 
real 
friends 
will 
serve 
you 
long
    Acquaintances 
will 
fade

    No
 question
    No 
jealousies
    No 
feminine 
tendencies
    We 
expecting
    No
 gossip
    No
 phony
 logic
    No 
counting 
your
 homey 
pocket
    Spare 
no 
expense
 for 
legal 
defense
    If
 your 
homey 
locked 
up
    No
 keeping 
tabs
    On 
who 
was 
the 
last 
who
 looked
 out
    Selfishness
    That’s 
a 
character 
flaw
    No
 holding 
out
    Yo
 what 
happened 
to 
the 
honor?
    You’re 
dealing 
with
    Sensitive

 Pre‐Madonna
 drama
    Teflon 
love
    For 
my 
dudes 
who 
solid

    Best album in recent history, listen if you cant read and listen, open ur minds.
    one love AFRICA

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  40. Selassie's Son

    YOu have to Be REAL HIP HOP HEAD and a REal Concious Person @ HEART to TRULY FEEL THisALBUM…For Me it was a BREATH of FRESH AIr……SIMPLY AMAZING!
    “GOOD OVer Evil”

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  41. amazingfabs

    People, if you don’t like the tempo of the beats, still give it a chance please, there are some good messages in it. The first barrier for me was just the tempo of the beats, I am used to a more bouncy type of album but I respected the artiste enough to not just play it. but actually listen to it, if you do the same it will reach you too trust me.

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  42. Slaps614

    I listened to the album with a open mind. I didn’t rally know what to expect. After listening to the album I cannot compare this album to the rest of industries entertainment. ALL I KNOW IS ITS A LOT OF TRUTH! From song to song I find myself feeling love to rage. ITS HOW YOU INTERPRET the information. Music is a powerful form of communication!

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  43. beretta92fs

    Hip Hop Needed this fellas…Best album since illmatic..

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  44. ali

    I can bet my life that an undeserving album like blue print 3 or recovery will take the grammy for best album believe me. When this happens am done with the grammies, everything seems to be political and about celebrity status. Its time for hiphop to go back to the grassroots and promote this kind of material. By the way, I’ve heard alot about the roots new album but haven’t heard it yet.

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  45. pizzo da lyrical praxis

    @xk: I love your firm analysis of this album. The problem is,who are the fuck gives these folks the rights to do all of this reviews? And when they review,who’s opinion is it,is it their personal opinion or that of millions of people who actually by this albums and listen to them? As an african living in Africa,you can only imaging the depth of what this album would do to me,these are artist who would have did songs about vanity and smile all the way to the bank,but for the fact that they have decided to do stuff of substance,they should commended for their efforts,and also for the fact that they intend to build schools in Africa with some of what they make from this LP,I can’t help but support by buying this album. In such a time where only Vanity sales,the younger generation desprately need such Comrades to speak the truth,weather they like it or not,Wayne can attest to that,this proves the brother has got skill and is only trying to make a living by giving the industry trash cos that’s all they want to buy. This album will not appeal to the younger generation because the word Swagger was not mentioned even for once on the whole album. Big up to Nas n Damian for this Classic. From Lagos Nigeria

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  46. Lin

    This is art in purest form and though I may not be an expert reviewer, I say the truth and only the truth as this album truly touched me emotionally, intellectually and even spiritually. We live in a world which finds itself coveted in lies and this strong love in seeking pleasure in materialistic objects. Mainstream music of this age and time merely represent futility and ignorance as they only discuss a self proclaimed title of being the “king” or having this so called “swagger”. May it be that many dislike this album due to it not being catchy yet listen to the lyrics…. everything in life is much deeper than what some selfish artist present to you. You’ve got to search for the truth for only then will you be able to open your eyes to those suffering, in agony who are most unfortunately in this circumstance due to the ruthless, dispotic political leaders and many others who have the chance to change the world into positivity yet only care for themselves. God bless Nas and Damian:)

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  47. DoubleF

    We argued a lot about the content in this album n I nearly popped lstening to people telling me lil Wayne murdered nas on the my generations track. I asked if they actually listened to what nas said in that track, it take a really intelligent person to hear n understand what nas n damien marley are saying, anyways I rest every comment since all they listen to are just a lot of drake, lilwayne, rickross where just guns weed and women are the order of the day.

    [Reply]

  48. cars

    cars…

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