Nas & Damien Marley – Distant Relatives Review

This is a highly anticipated release for me.  I have avoided all leaks on this so with will truly be “my first glance” at this album.

To me Nas is one of the best MC’s to ever pick up a mic, and Damien Marley is just overall great.  I think Nas has some issues choosing beats, so I hope Damien can help with that.  I love reggae so I think this album will be right up my alley.

Note: A lot of people get pissy about my “reviews”.  Remember these are just the first thoughts I have after hearing the song for the first time – a lot can change.  I have countless albums in my collection that my opinion has changed about given repeated listens.

So without further ado…

1. As We Enter
– Hmm uh oh…this is not my style…I love the obvious chemistry between Nas and Damien – but this beat is real corny to me.  I was hoping to hear Jamrock style production.

2. Tribal War
– See right away again I am not instantly feeling the beat, but then I find it OK when Damien starts singing.  I like this song better than the last…Nas is doing his thing so far on this.

3. Strong Will Continue
– OK here we go!  This is good!  Pretty laid back, but I think Nas and Damien fit over beats like this.  It’s a bit plodding though – I love how the beat picks up during Nas verse…reminds me of Hero when he is rapping.

4. Leaders
– This is pretty typical Damien Marley – nice vibe to this.  Nas is a ridiculously good rapper.  Even when the production isn’t blowing me away his verses will

5. Friends
– Cool little track – I dunno though I was hoping for more of a reggae rap beat combination I think.  Like harder drums would have been a nice addition.  When the beats do lean towards more hip hop it is on some laser shit not that boom bap.  That said I am feeling this joint – love Damien on it.  I like Damien on this song more than Nas actually.

6. Count Your Blessings – I love what Damien and Nas are saying – I dunno if this is my style of song.  It isn’t too bad – seems a bit too flighty if that makes sense.  Like a lounge song or something.  I feel like I should be standing with one hand on my hip while wagging my finger in the air.

7. Dispear – This is reminiscent of current dancehall music.  Wouldn’t be surprised if this was a popular riddim in Jamaica – could totally see Movado or Buju over this.  Nas sounds nice on this.  In fact he is killing it, I can barely type as I try to catch what he is saying.  I love the chemistry between Damien and Nas…that is the best part of the album.

8. Land of Promise
– Dennis Brown is listed on this joint and he is a legend damn it.. a LEGEND.  Hope it is good.  Pretty typical reggae beat here..almost too generic.  Like if some white director was making a movie and needed stock reggae music he would choose this beat.  Damien is killing it though – which he should be, this is more his style than Nas’.

9. In His Own Words – Sounds like a Miley Cyrus song starting LOL Nice guitar on this actually.  This might end up being one of my fag songs on this album.  Kind of rap song I can play around old people and they might say “Oh that guitar is nice”.  They won’t be too pleased when Nas jumps in – but I am!

10, Nah Mean
– OHHHHH SHIT!  This is EXACTLY what I expected and hoped for.  Remember when I complained about the album production missing that rap edge..this is that edge.  OH man this song is gonna stay in my rotation for ages..I know that already.  Great great song – this will not get old on me.

11. Patience – This is crazy it samples the Guns and Roses song of the same name!  Just kidding.  Someone should sample that though. I am feeling this – that vocal sampale is crazy.

12. My Generation – First impressions – CORNY.  Just kidding I shouldn’t be so cynical – I just hate little kid hooks for the most part.  Comes off kind of corny – but there is a great message here.  Damien is killing it right now.  Joss Stone needs to be edited out.  Why not get a great reggae singer – she just seems out of place.  Seems like she is trying too hard too – but that is always my issue with Joss.  Weezy sounds great on this…Weezy is back y’all.  Autotune Weezy is dead!

13. Africa Must Wake Up – Another song I can play in front of my parents friends 🙂  Seriously though this is cool. Beat is kind of laid back but it matches the subject matter.  Nas doesn’t have a bad verse on this whole album.

So in conclusion I wasn’t blown away by the overall production on first listen.  BUT I think it may grow on me a bit.  While there aren’t too many stand out tracks that make me really jump out of my chair on first listen (except Nah Mean) this is the kind of album you will have to really give a fair listen and really absorb.

As I type this, the album is playing again and I already like it more.

One thing that is certain – is even if the production doesn’t grow on me – the subject matter and the chemistry between Damien and Nas will save this album. They sound great together and you can tell they are on the same wave length in terms of world view and politics.

I am looking forward to giving this some more spins and coming back and giving my final verdict a month or so from now.



  • brem

    Count your blessings is actually the best song on the album

  • Alexjelowe

    good review, see exactly what youre saying with the most part but i feel the harder more meaninful tracks are quality, "oh that guitar is nice" line killed me though i feel that song would be better with bob's roots rock reggea type shit and nas going over it, a bit too miley for me!!

  • jay

    one hand u say dennis brown as a legend... then u fail to recognise the beat of one of his greatest hits... it is not simply a 'generic' reggae beat... but it is probly the kind of defining beat that has led to the generic reimaginations that u speak about

  • Yeah good catch on that - I don't have a problem with that production from the stand point of roots reggae. Like a classic Dennis Brown song over that is great. I was hoping for more hybrid production - like say Jamrock...or from this album - Nah mean. Again though this was my very first skim of the album..i come back and update these when i have given the album the attention it deserves.

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