‘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? 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 is an expression of Damian’s devoted Rastafarian beliefs 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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