Nas & Damian Marley Celebrate Album Release in NYC [With Photos]

Nas and Damian Marley celebrated today’s release of their ambitious rap-meets-reggae album, Distant Relatives, with a performance last night (May 17) at a sold-out Highline Ballroom in New York City.

DJ Green Lantern set the mood by spinning numerous reggae classics before the duo fittingly walked out around 10:15 p.m. to “As We Enter,” the opener from their LP. Minutes later, Nas was still acquainting himself with the new material as he read the lyrics for “Friends” off of his phone, while the backing band—complete with hand drummers—captivated the audience.

“Nah Mean” proved the perfect segue into the first of the QB rapper’s solo sets. Ending with the line, “So now I do rapping, it pays,” God’s Son then dipped into his first hip-hop classic of the night, “Nas Is Like,” with both Green Lantern scratching and the ensemble on their respective instruments. And during “If I Ruled The World,” he slipped in a quick tribute to the recently departed Guru, singing, “My man Guru… walked right up to the sun” during the song’s refrain.

In between tracks, Nas reminded the crowd, “Hip-hop and reggae been related since the early days,” shouting out DJ Kool Herc and his Jamaican heritage. The legendary DJ later joined him onstage during his second solo set after Marley had worked the crowd up with “Move,” his body-long dreadlocks flying around throughout.

Later, the pair rejoined for “Strong Will Continue,” after which Nas’ revealing third verse was met with the loudest applause of the evening. “Hate Me Now” followed poignantly before Esco once again went solo for “One Mic,” supported only by a djembe.

Marley returned for “Welcome to Jamrock,” and the duo then performed their first collaboration, 2005’s “Road To Zion.” “Africa Must Wake Up,” the last track on Distant Relatives, closed out the nearly 2-hour show.

“Thank you for rocking with us on this music journey, this experience,” Nas signed off, with Damian by his side.

Distant Relatives is in stores now. —Devin Chanda

Photos courtesy of Jonathan Weiner. Click on image to enlarge.

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  • ozzy b

    i wish i lived in new york

  • M. Baby!

    Hip-Hop is getting bigger and bigger. It’s great to see two empowering artist come together as one to uplift, encourage, and give more hope to the world. True Hip-Hop will never die…unlike these songs you hear on the radio now that only last for 3 months and you don’t hear from them ever again. But when you speak from the heart….that’s timeless and priceless. The track “Leaders” lets you know how the album is gonna be. Gotta cop this album

  • BeerGangsta

    Let’s make this summer the best jam every. Nas is a Champ. Damian Marley is cool. I will buy this Album. Lyrics will be just right. Dam will hold up his part.

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  • Capostatus

    New York New York New York New York New York, we back baby. This is real hip hop NOT that Aouthern Country Garbage on the charts. Southern Niggaz are retarded.

  • http://xxlmag jayrucknyc

    I’m not interested. I want a Nas solo and If Nas is gonna do a joint album i want one wit AZ!!!!!!!

  • jtm

    everyone go and support and buy the album.

    • Herman

      Don’t forget Roc Marcy and Reflection Eternal’s album! Real shit, mang.

  • sealsaa

    jtm says:

    everyone go and support and buy the album

    Support the shows too. They’re going to be in the west coast from the end of May-June.

  • gaddic

    Another classic album again
    Nas is uncanny

  • $yk

    They’ll be in PDX Saturday. I’ll let y’all know how it was.

    And we get a whole lotta shows out here, like NY.

    Lupe was here (w/B.o.B) like 2 weeks ago. Wiz Khalifa was here w/Fashawn last week. dead prez was 3 weeks ago. Tech N9ne is coming on Monday.

    And cop that Roc Marciano ‘Marcberg’!!!!! is the only place! They will/can send you a hard copy! And take Visa or MC (debit/prepaid debit)!

  • EmCDL

    I’m coppin all three albums: Distant Relatives, Reflection Enternal and Marcberg!

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  • k rach

    he need to do a album with AZ

  • illbig

    i gat the album already but damians mother rita marleys house bent down in ghana,and we expecting him down if he can ghana is with u, all the marley family is all love i chased this album since day 1 and am now taking it in like food.