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”