2010 Distant Relatives
The new collaboration from New York rapper Nas and Jamaican reggae-rapper Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley was released on May 18, titled Distant Relatives. Check out the new video from the album "As We Enter" and the videos from each of their careers in this special Then & Now.
Nas' politically charged self-titled album materialized in 2008 after a great deal of controversy arose over the original title--which caused Reverend Jesse Jackson and the NAACP to speak out against it.
2006 Hip Hop Is Dead
After being dissed on 50 Cent's song "Piggy Bank" in 2005 and Jay-Z's song "Takeover" in 2001, Nas made a surprise appearance at Jay-Z's much-hyped I Declare War concert in October. Together the two rivals performed "Dead Presidents," Jay-Z's 1996 debut single; the classic song, produced by Ski Beatz and featured on Reasonable Doubt, features a prominent sample of "The World Is Yours," a 1994 classic by Nas. The reconciliation of Jay-Z and Nas opened the door to a deal with Def Jam which was overseen by Jay-Z as president at the time. The label signed Nas and, in turn, released Hip Hop Is Dead in 2006. The album inspired commentary about the state of hip-hop and included a much-anticipated collaboration with Jay-Z, "Black Republican."
2005 Welcome to Jamrock
Marley's reggae-meets-hip-hop single "Welcome to Jamrock," became an urban phenomenon soon after its summer 2005 release. Street-level mixtapes began featuring it, urban radio couldn't get enough of it, and remixes--both legal and otherwise--began appearing at a fast pace. The well-rounded album Welcome to Jamrock delivered on the promise of the single that same year, reaching the Top Ten.
2004 Street's Disciple
Nas returned with Street's Disciple in 2004, a sprawling double album that delved deeply into various issues, most notably politics and his impending marriage to Kelis. The two-sided "Thief's Theme"/"You Know My Style" single dropped in summer 2004, several months before the album's release, and was followed that fall by the proper lead single, "Bridging the Gap."
2002 God's Son
At the end of 2002, Columbia released a new studio album by Nas, God's Son, and the rapper once again basked in widespread acclaim as the album sold well, spawned sizable hits such as "Thugz Mansion," "Made You Look," and "I Can."
Amidst relationship trouble with the mother of his daughter and dealing with his own mother's cancer, longtime rival Jay-Z dissed Nas on "Takeover," the leadoff song from his acclaimed Blueprint album. Among other charges, Jay-Z called out Nas for not having put out a "hot" album since Illmatic, and also alluded to sleeping with the mother of Nas' daughter. It didn't help that Jay-Z had risen atop the New York rap scene, giving him ample justification to call out Nas, who had fallen from favor and receded from the public eye while he dealt with his personal issues. Nas responded in December 2001 with Stillmatic, the title a reference to his classic Illmatic album, which had been released nearly a decade earlier. Stillmatic opened with the song "Ether," a very direct response to Jay-Z, followed by the aggressive lead single "Get Ur Self A...." These two songs in particular rallied the streets while the moving video for "One Mic" received heavy support from MTV.
2001 Halfway Tree
Marley's 2001 release Halfway Tree was created to be a junction between the new and the old as the neighborhood in Kingston, Jamaica of the same name is the junction between the rich and the poor. This North American debut offers enough social consciousness to keep his father's fans happy while still dabbling in newer forms of dancehall and hip-hop. Tracks like "More Justice" and "Give Dem Some Way" feature the kind of social commentary you'd expect from a member of the Marley clan. The family influence is also felt throughout the album--his brother Stephen Marley, produced much of the album and they even sample their father's classic "Could You Be Loved" on their track "And Be Loved." But Marley also strays away slightly from family tradition, dealing with love and sex in a raw, direct way on tracks like "Mi Blenda" and "Cool and Dandy."
Originally scheduled by Columbia as a follow-up album comprised of the pirated material from the I Am sessions, Nastradamus--released in time for the holiday shopping season, roughly six months after its predecessor--was instead comprised almost entirely of new material, recorded quickly to meet the late-November release date. The album went platinum and spawned two charting singles, "Nastradamus" and "You Owe Me."
1999 I Am
Nas addressed his critics on "Hate Me Now," the second single from his first 1999 album, I Am. The album had originally been planned as a double-disc concept album comprised of autobiographical material, but when some of the tracks were leaked, I Am was scaled down and released as a single disc, with the DJ Premier-produced "Nas Is Like" chosen as the lead single. Besides "Nas Is Like" and "Hate Me Now," which both broke into the Billboard Hot 100, "You Won't See Me Tonight" and "K-I-S-S-I-N-G" also charted as singles.
1996 It Was Written
Nas' follow-up, It Was Written was created with a significantly different approach than he had taken with Illmatic: where that album had been a straightforward hip-hop album with few pop concessions, the largely Trackmaster-produced It Was Written made numerous concessions to the pop-crossover market, most notably on the two hit singles, "Street Dreams" and "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)." These singles -- both of which drew from well-known songs, Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and Kurtis Blow's "If I Ruled the World," respectively--broadened Nas' appeal greatly and awarded him MTV-sanctioned crossover success.
1996 Mr. Marley
By 1994, Damian was working on his own solo project, and with the help of his father's label, Tuff Gong, he recorded Mr. Marley. Also lending a familial air to the sessions was the presence of Stephen Marley, who produced and co-wrote several songs for the LP.
DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Pete Rock entered the studio with the newly Columbia signed Nas and began work on his debut album, Illmatic. It sold very well, spawned multiple hits, and earned unanimous acclaim, followed soon after by classic status.
1978 Damian Marley: Beginnings
Damian Marley was born on July 21, 1978 in Kingston, Jamaica. He was the youngest of Bob Marley's children and was only two years old when his father died. At the age of 13, he formed his first band, the Shepherds, which also included the son of Third World's Cat Coore and the daughter of Freddie McGregor; the group even opened up the 1992 Reggae Sunsplash festival.
1973 Nas: Beginnings
Born Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones on September 14, 1973 in Long Island, New York, son of jazz musician Olu Dara. Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade, trading classrooms for the streets of the rough Queensbridge projects. Despite dropping out of school, Nas developed a high degree of literacy while delving into street culture that would later characterize his rhymes. His synthesis of well-crafted rhetoric and street-glamorous imagery came together in 1991 when he connected with Main Source and laid down a fiery verse on "Live at the Barbeque" that earned him up-and-coming notice among the East Coast rap scene.