So why is Nas & Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?
When Nas is on his game, there are few who can touch his level. And on Distant Relatives, his rap skills mesh with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley’s reggae skills and pedigree to form a highly unusual and exquisitely pleasing musical duo.
It would be one thing if these two collab-ed on a track or two and had done with it, but Distant Relatives is astonishingly good and surprising over the course of just over an hour and 13 tracks.
That being said, two songs stand out and rank among the best I’ve best I’ve heard over the last 15 years or so: “As We Enter” and “Nah Mean.”
Let’s start with “As We Enter,” the lead track. An equal parts relentless, cool, and unique sample from Ethiopian jazz artist Mulatu Astake sets the backdrop for Nas and Marley to trade off lines with each other using their own highly distinct styles.
I’m tempted to quote the entire song, but I’ll highlight this really fun bit, with the pair going back and forth:
Even if it’s in Swahili or body Ghani
Masuri Sana, switch up the language and move to Ghana
Salute and honor, real revolution rhymers
Rhythm piranhas, like two Obamas, unfold the drama
“Nah Mean” manages to go even harder, bursting with energy and a lively loop (sampled from Sara Chaves’ fantastic “Kurikutè”) and lyrics that constantly come back to hit the song title, nah mean.
The lyrics dem a flow like a stream, nah mean?
The music video for “Nah Mean,” as aside, is one of the best I’ve ever seen that simply features a bunch of people walking down a street. There’s an authenticity and energy that you can see and feel and hear.
“Tribes At War,” credited to Nas, Marley, and K’NAAN, leverages strings and a Caribbean beat to form a song – which includes Marley’s vocals and rapping from Nas and K’NAAN – that manages to be exciting, soothing, and pleasing at the same time.
Spoiler alert: look for more Nas as the best 1,000 albums ever project is now poised to crack into the top 375!
Some stats & info about Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, Reggae, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was Distant Relatives released? 2010
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #380 out of 1,000
Nas & Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives on Spotify
A lyrical snippet from Nas & Damian Marley’s Distant Relatives that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe
I’m shrewd about decimals and my man’ll speak patois, and I can speak rap star.
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.