Count Your Blessings for Nas & Marley

By Jennifer Rust

?Distant Relatives? is a feast of heavy base beats that flow from
beat to beat with Damian?s smooth voice and Nas?s melodic rapping.
The combination of American style hip hop and rhythmic reggae beats is
enjoyably hypnotizing. This is Nas and Damian ?Junior Gong?
Marley?s first album together. The title of the album is part of the
theme of African unity which prominent within the album. 

Who says an African America and Rastafarian from Jamaica can?t make
an album preaching the love and salvation of Africa[1]? Not me. The
album is a representation of Nas and Damian?s shared African
ancestry.  The sounds of African beats, languages and drum rhythms
come together brilliantly with Nas and Damian?s unique flavours.

Nas and Damian explore new flavours and rhythms in each track which
intertwine to form a unique ?African? sound. The repeated
references to Africa are not a gimmick as Nas and Damian are involved
in starting up a school in Africa, and have participated in a National
Geographic sponsored discussion on the African diaspora and its
influence on music.

The album[2] is an expression of Damian?s devoted Rastafarian
beliefs[3] in peace, freedom as shown in ?Count Your Blessings?,
an almost nauseatingly optimistic upbeat track. It is offset by a
track entitled ?Despair? which starts with an African-sounding
choir, followed by ?defy the man? rapping of the desperation and
exploitation within Africa. Damian raps like lightning, blasting
through kick-ass unintelligible lyrics.

All of the tracks are written by Nas and Damian, and most are
produced by Damien and his half-brother Stephan Marley. They embrace
the connection between reggae and hip hop which enhances and
complements their different sounds. Beyond the modern backtracks are
simple drum beats that bring the music down to an earthy level.
Together with classic smooth Marley magic the album alternates between
sway-to-the-grooves and bounce-to-the-beat vibes.

The lyrics leave the listener feeling inspired; as if peace is
possible and the world can get better. In this modern age of noisy
traffic, air pollution and income driven society, spending an hour
floating through Nas and Damian?s rhythmic melodies makes the sun
seem just a bit brighter and the future just a bit more hopeful.




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