When Nas and Damian Marley hit the studio to work on a record inspired by Africa, they only planned on putting out an EP. But as the artists continued to invest themselves in the creative collaboration, the album that was supposed to contain only a few tracks, grew into something bigger, and eventually evolved into a full length LP titled Distant Relatives.
Marley told Billboard.com, “Once we started working on the music, it was Nas who said to me, ‘Yo, we should just make this a full album.’ He really liked the energy, I guess.”
Nas added, “I just think it was me and Damian finding our way. When you have two different artists working on a record when they’re used to doing their own thing their own way, it’s not as easy as people may think. We just flowed, and the next thing we looked up and there were so many songs done or so many songs started and worked on…we just decided to keep it going. It’s not reggae. It’s not rap. It’s different shit for each of us.”
The two recently previewed the album , shared some of their music with Rock The Bells crowds, and treated fans to records like “As We Enter,” “Strong Will Continue,” and “Africa Must Wake Up,” all of which have garnered positive fan reactions.
“I like to come out and tell the people live in person, ‘Yo, the album is coming’ and give them a little bit of music to start to get excited about it,” said Marley. “I think it also will help with the finishing of the album because we’re seeing how things work.”
Nas said that the Rock The Bells Tour has allowed fans to get acclimated to the idea of him doing a full album with a prominent Reggae artist.
“I know people are kind of like, ‘What’s happening? What’s Nas doing? What’s Damian doing? Is this really happening? So just being out here on the road we get a good feel from people about this whole thing.”
According to Nas, the album is 90% complete. He expressed plans to continue touring with Marley once the album is released. Originally set for a June release, Distant Relatives is scheduled to hit shelves in August.
Author: Salima Koroma