Nas & Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley

SXSW Music 2010

Nas & Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley

Emo's Main Room, Wednesday, March 17

With a line outside seemingly spanning the distance from Queensbridge to Jamrock, Nas and Damian Marley bridged the gap between hip-hop and reggae in offering a sneak peek of upcoming collaboration Distant Relatives. The musical styles aren't so distant. After all, Kool Herc was born in Kingston, Jamaica, before pioneering hip-hop in the Bronx. Nasty Nas introduced his branch of the family tree first with rap classics "Nas Is Like" and "NY State of Mind" before Illmatic's "One Love" morphed into the Bob Marley anthem, sung by Jr. Gong. Bob's son and God's Son traded bars on new joint efforts "As We Enter" and "Strong Will Continue" before Marley updated "Exodus" on the thunderous "Move!" "Before there was hip-hop, before there was gospel and blues, and before there was a DJ, there was the drum," Nas posited. That was all he needed other than the obvious on a stripped down version of "One Mic," as percussionist Leon Mobley pounded a polyrhythm more compelling than any instrumental DJ Green Lantern could pull from the crates. The duo closed with "Road to Zion," a masterful pairing that planted the seed for the current family reunion.

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