Distant Relatives

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Distant Relatives
Distant Relatives (Nas & Damian Marley album).jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 18, 2010 (2010-05-18)
Los Angeles, California
Miami, Florida
GenreHip hop, reggae fusion
ProducerNasir Jones (exec.), Damian Marley (also exec.), Stephen Marley
Nas chronology
Distant Relatives
Life Is Good
Damian Marley chronology
Welcome to Jamrock
Distant Relatives
Singles from Distant Relatives
  1. "As We Enter"
    Released: February 23, 2010
  2. "Strong Will Continue"
    Released: April 13, 2010
  3. "My Generation"
    Released: August 30, 2010[1]

Distant Relatives is a collaborative studio album by American rapper Nas and Jamaican reggae vocalist Damian Marley. It was released on May 18, 2010, by Universal Republic and Def Jam Recordings. The album is Nas' tenth (third for Def Jam) and Marley's fourth studio album, respectively.

Distant Relatives was recorded between 2008 and 2010, being produced primarily by Damien and Stephen Marley, both sons of the most-known Jamaican musician Bob Marley. Fusing musical elements of hip hop and reggae, it features lyrical themes concerning ancestry, poverty, and the plight of Africa. It features appearances from K’naan, Stephen Marley, Dennis Brown, Junior Reid, Joss Stone and Lil Wayne.

The album debuted at number five on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 57,000 copies in its first week. Upon its release, Distant Relatives received positive reviews from most music critics.


News of the album first came at the 2009 Grammy Awards, when Nas told MTV reporters "Right now, I'll tell you first, I'm working on an album with Damian Marley. We tryin' to build some schools in Africa with this one, and trying to build empowerment. We're tryin' to show love and stuff with this album. So, the record's … all about really the 'hood and Africa also as well."[2] The album title derives from Nas and Marley's relationship, their shared African ancestry, and the shared ancestry of the entire human race; which musically and lyrically inspired each recording.[3][4] Leftover tracks from Nas and Marley's previous albums were originally planned for an EP based on Africa. After working together, the duo decided to record a full album together.[5]

Recording and production[edit]

Nas and Marley began recording in 2008; recording sessions took place in Los Angeles, California, and Miami, Florida. Marley and his brother, Stephen, produced the majority of the album, using live instrumentation in the recording process.[6] They collaborated with guest artists, including Stephen Marley, Joss Stone, Lil Wayne, and K'naan.[5][7] On the album's production, Marley told Rolling Stone, "We're trying to have a sound that's reminiscent of both of us, but not exactly like either... A lot of charity albums come off corny. We want this to be something you'd play in your car."[6]


Fusing hip hop and reggae musical elements,[8] Marley and Nas also incorporated samples from African music into the album.[5] The album's lyrical content heavily revolves around themes concerning Africa, from ancestry and poverty,[5][9] with social commentary of the United States and Africa.[8][10] The track "Count Your Blessings" reflects on the plight of Africa.[6]

Release and promotion[edit]

Nas and Marley performing in Wellington, New Zealand, 2011

The album was released May 18, 2010 on Universal Republic and Def Jam Recordings.[11] Its proceeds will go to a project in Africa, with the possibility of building a school in Congo.[6]

Panel discussion[edit]

At a sold-out panel discussion on the African diaspora and its relation to music, sponsored by National Geographic, Damian and Stephen Marley and Nas were among the several hip hop and reggae musicians voicing their solidarity. The discussion focused on the collaborations between artists of the two genres, and highlighted the Distant Relatives project.[12]


The first single, "As We Enter", was released on iTunes on February 23, 2010.[13] It has so far peaked at #10 on the iTunes Hip Hop/Rap charts and #41 on the iTunes Music charts. The single debuted at number 39 on the UK Singles Chart.[14] "Strong Will Continue" is featured as soundtrack in EA Sports game, 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. "My Generation" was released in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2010.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars[16]
The A.V. ClubB[17]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[18]
The Guardian4/5 stars[19]
Mojo4/5 stars[20]
MSN Music (Consumer Guide)A−[21]
Pitchfork Media6.1/10[22]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[23]
Slant Magazine4.5/5 stars[24]

Distant Relatives received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 73, based on 23 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[26] Allmusic's David Jeffries complimented its themes concerning Africa, calling it "one purposeful monster and a conceptional bull's eye that fully supports its title".[16] Sputnikmusic's Ryan Flatley stated, "Nas and Damian Marley are a formidable pairing, seemingly on the same level throughout most of the album in thought and overall presence".[27] Dave Simpson of The Guardian described its music as "thoughtful, sincere, weighty stuff, tackling subjects from African poverty to the diamond trade without sounding preachy or schmaltzy".[19] Gervase de Wilde of The Daily Telegraph called it "predictably brilliant".[18]

Although he found its musical fusion "a little overblown", David Amidon of PopMatters felt that "the alchemy between Nas and Junior Gong’s voice is obvious and engenders a strong sense of unity".[28] Mojo commented that the album "finds a glorious similitude between the two disciplines."[20] Slant Magazine's M.T. Richards called the album "a bright, richly cultured work" and praised its themes of humanity and humility, writing that it "shines with passion and zeal, both in its content and production, which oozes earthy warmth".[24] In MSN Music, Robert Christgau stated, "The result is an exceptionally melodic reggae album that's intensified by rapping devoid of dancehall patois and a hard edge unknown to roots revivalism. The result is also an exceptionally political hip-hop album that's most convincing when it doesn't multiply Afrocentric distortion by Rastafarian reasoning".[21]

In a mixed review, J. Gabriel Boylan of Spin felt that its "revelatory message blunted by digressions".[25] Sean Fennessey of The Village Voice found it to be "rudimentary" and "a tasteful affair full of uninteresting revelations and self-serious proclamations".[29] Jeff Weiss of the Los Angeles Times commented that the album "vacillates between the dreary and dynamic", and criticized its "didacticism": "[L]eadened by reductive philosophies and crippling self-seriousness, the record often feels overly ponderous".[30] Pitchfork Media's Tom Breihan viewed the lyrics as trite and stated, "Nas and Marley fall into a sort of middlebrow funk, kicking overripe platitudes over sunny session-musician lopes and letting their self-importance suffocate their personalities".[22] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club called it "an Afrocentric manifesto sometimes loaded down by the weight of its noble ambitions".[17]

Commercial performance[edit]

Distant Relatives debuted at number five on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 57,000 copies.[31] It serves as Nas's tenth top-ten album and Marley's second top-ten album in the United States.[31] The album also entered at number four on Billboard's Digital Albums,[32] and at number one on its R&B/Hip-Hop Albums,[33] Rap Albums,[34] and Reggae Albums charts.[35] As of June 2010, it has sold 134,000 copies in the United States.[36]

Internationally, Distant Relatives attained some chart success.[37][38] It entered at number 33 on the European Top 100 Albums chart.[39] In the United Kingdom, it debuted at number 30 on the UK Albums Chart and at number four on the R&B Albums Chart.[40][41] In Canada, the album entered at number 9 on the Top 100 Albums chart.[42] In Germany, it debuted at number 38 on the Media Control Charts,[43] and in the Netherlands, the album debuted at number 72 and peaked at number 65 on the Mega Album Top 100.[38]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks were produced by Damian Marley, except tracks 4, 9, and 11, which were produced by Stephen Marley.

1."As We Enter"Nasir Jones, Damian Marley, Mulatu Astatke2:58
2."Tribes at War" (featuring K'naan)Jones, Marley, Keinan Warsame4:30
3."Strong Will Continue"Jones, Marley6:02
4."Leaders" (featuring Stephen Marley)Jones, Marley, Stephen Marley4:20
5."Friends"Jones, Marley4:49
6."Count Your Blessings"Jones, Marley4:24
7."Dispear"Jones, Marley5:53
8."Land of Promise" (featuring Dennis Brown)Jones, Marley, Dennis Brown4:00
9."In His Own Words" (featuring Stephen Marley)Jones, D. Marley, S. Marley5:00
10."Nah Mean"Jones, Marley4:09
11."Patience"Jones, Marley, Amadou Bajayoko, Mariam Doumbia5:46
12."My Generation" (featuring Joss Stone & Lil Wayne)Jones, Marley, Dwayne Carter, Jr.4:02
13."Africa Must Wake Up" (featuring K'naan)Jones, Marley, Warsame6:41
Total length:57:13
LP/iTunes bonus track
14."Ancient People" (featuring Junior Reid)Nasir Jones, Damian Marley, Junior Reid4:35
Total length:61:48
Sample credits[44]
  • "As We Enter" contains samples of "Yegelle Tezeta" by Mulatu Astatke.
  • "Tribes at War" contains a sample from "Tribal War" by Earl Lowe.
  • "Friends" contains a sample from "Undenge Uami" by David Zé.
  • "Land Of Promise" contains a sample from "Promised Land" by Dennis Brown.
  • "Nah Mean" contains a sample from "Kurikute" by Sara Chaves.
  • "Patience" contains a sample from "Sabali" by Amadou & Mariam from the album Welcome to Mali.
  • "My Generation" contains a sample from "Generation" by Ziggy Marley.


Credits for Distant Relatives adapted from Allmusic.[45]



  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2011-05-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2009-02-09). "Nas Confirms Kelis' Pregnancy, Talks New Album". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  3. ^ Concepcion, Mariel (2009-04-08). "Nas, Damian Marley Prep Collaborative Album". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 2009-04-09.
  4. ^ Cline, Georgette. "Nas & Damian Marley Prep Joint Album". Rap-Up. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  5. ^ a b c d Vozick-Levinson, Simon (2009-04-22). "Nas and Damian Marley on their 'Distant Relatives' collaboration". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  6. ^ a b c d "Spring Music Preview: June". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. 2009-03-20. Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
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  10. ^ Reid, Shaheem (2009-04-07). "Nas And Damian Marley Team Up For Rock The Bells Tour, Joint Album". MTV News. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  11. ^ Marley, Damian (2010-02-18). "Damian Marley speaks". Reggaeville. Archived from the original on 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2010-02-18.
  12. ^ The Source, Nas and Damian Marley Distant Relatives Coming in 2010 Archived 2010-05-28 at the Wayback Machine, TheSource.com, 14 December 2009. Accessed 6 January 2010.
  13. ^ Single Cover: Nas & Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley – ‘As We Enter’. Rap-Up.
  14. ^ The Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart - 23 May 2010. BBC Online. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  15. ^ "Distant Relatives by Nas And Damian Marley". Metacritic. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
  16. ^ a b Jeffries, David. Review: Distant Relatives. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  17. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan. Review: Distant Relatives. The A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2010-05-25.
  18. ^ a b de Wilde, Gervase (May 14, 2010). "Nas and Damian Marley: Distant Relatives, CD review". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved December 15, 2012.
  19. ^ a b Simpson, Dave. Review: Distant Relatives. The Guardian. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  20. ^ a b "Review: Distant Relatives". Mojo. London: 92. July 2010.
  21. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Distant Relatives". MSN Music: June 2010.
  22. ^ a b Breihan, Tom. Review: Distant Relatives. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2010-05-21.
  23. ^ Hoard, Christian. Review: Distant Relatives. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  24. ^ a b Richards, M.T. Review: Distant Relatives. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2010-05-25.
  25. ^ a b Boylan, J. Gabriel. Review: Distant Relatives. Spin. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  26. ^ Distant Relatives Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  27. ^ Flatley, Ryan. Review: Distant Relatives. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2010-05-19.
  28. ^ Amidon, David. Review: Distant Relatives. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2010-06-01.
  29. ^ Fennessey, Sean. Review: Distant Relatives. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2010-05-19.
  30. ^ Weiss, Jeff. Review: Distant Relatives. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  31. ^ a b Caulfield, Keith. 'Glee' Stops the Show at No. 1, Stones Come in Second On Billboard 200. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-26.
  32. ^ Digital Albums - Week of June 05, 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  33. ^ a b R&B/Hip-Hop Albums - Week of June 05, 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  34. ^ a b Rap Albums - Week of June 05, 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  35. ^ a b Reggae Albums - Week of June 05, 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  36. ^ "Hip Hop Album Sales: The Week Ending 6/27/2010". Hip hop DX. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  37. ^ a b c d "Nas & Damian Marley - Distant Relatives". Ultratop. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  38. ^ a b c d Album Performance: Distant Relatives. acharts. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  39. ^ European Albums - Week of June 05, 2010. Billboard. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  40. ^ a b The Official UK Top 40 Albums Chart - 23 May 2010. BBC Online. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  41. ^ a b UK Top 40 RnB Albums - 23 May 2010. BBC Online. Retrieved on 2010-05-27.
  42. ^ a b "Canadian Albums: Top Albums Chart - Billboard". Billboard.
  43. ^ a b Album Top 50 KW 20 - Gültig ab 28.05.2010. MTV. Retrieved on 2010-05-28.
  44. ^ Track listing and liner notes per Distant Relatives album
  45. ^ Credits: Distant Relatives. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-05-18.
  46. ^ "Chart History - Distant Relatives". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  47. ^ "Best of 2010 - Billboard Top 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-12-31.

External links[edit]