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Damian Marley & Nas 'Distant Relatives' concert Review (MeView)

Disclaimer: I wrote this on my BlackBerry, whilst on holiday, so if there are any mistakes or bits that don't make sense, please forgive me. Catch the review of Distant Relatives here

I've been told I go in on the reviews. I guess it's because I retell every nook and cranny. So I've decided to call it a MeView instead of review? Why? Because I'm weird like that :D

So the day of the concert I predicted will be concert of the year was finally here; Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley & Nas Distant Relatives concert lands in London, England - Hammersmith Apollo to be precise - after the cancelled date in May due to volcanic ash. Two legends, united to craft the best hip-hip (can I call this genre-colliding project hip-hop?) album I've heard in a few years. Armed with an innovative, inspirational, introspective, incredible, (and again what I class as, and you should to, to be honest) a classic album sure to stand the test of time, will the concert live up to my billing?

Unfortunately the traffic on Fulham Palace Road means that this review misses out on the performances from top UK support; rapper Ty, and rapper x punk rocker x all out rebel Akala. I've seen Ty perform before on a couple of occasions and know he must have held it down, sighted Akala once at Love Music Hate Racism in 09 sounded alright. So yeah, I'm guessing they did it well.

1Xtra's Hip Hop flag bearer DJ Semtex held it down with what I'd guess was a solid hip hop set filled with a bunch of classics, but yeah you guessed it, I was still on the roadside these times.

Sidebar: I assure you this was not to do with running on BMT (the derogatory acronym "black man time"). They had stupid temporary traffic lights narrowing the road down to one lane.

Back to the story, literally ran for 5mins because I kept up to date via Twitter (who said social-networking sites are the devil?) as I'd heard (read a tweet) that a legend will grace the stage. Touched down inside the venue to witness the most knowledgeable selector I personally know of burn down the stage. David 'Ram Jam' Rodigan, the dub-wise s'maddy (patois for "somebody"). You know what you get when he's on; history and geography lesson about artist, then a clean dubplate received by immense forwards and gunfingers aloft. Those artists were Dennis Brown ('To The Foundation' & 'Here I Come'), Garnett Silk ('Lord Watch Over Shoulders'), Beres Hammond ('What One Dance Can Do') Junior Reid ('One Blood') and Buju Banton & Ninja Man in combination on the Sleng Teng riddim. All of which got major forwards. Oh and we can't forget the honourary Bob Marley - you didn't think we'd get away with that did you?! I was taken back by the responses. As an avid reggae fan, I sometimes fall into the trap as a lot of people that forget the power of the genre amongst, thinking it's only a genre popular amongst ethnic minorities (Africans but mainly Caribbeans). The multi-cultural crowd lapped it up.

At this point I realised how hot it was inside; my armpits were putting down a storm, smelt fresh as daisy's on a spring morning though - know this. The sensimillia did ah bun hard too. Next and last DJ set belonged to the Evil Genius, the duos tour DJ Green Lantern. He drew for hip hop classics from yesteryear from the likes of DMX (Ruff Ryders Anthem), Black Rob (Whoa), and Wu-Tang ('Triumph' I lost my head when that dropped). Obviously had the tribute to 2pac and Biggie. The whole crowd sung along to an acapella of Juicy, which when you think about it, a lot of the people in the audience weren't the generation that would have checked for Biggie at the time of release or even at point of death. The power of a well-written and constructed classic song. Oh yeah, some random dude came out on stage, I recognised the beat, kind of heard a part of Green Lantern's introduction, but I couldn't hear anything. Clocked it was Jay Electronica's Just Blaze produced 'Exhibit C', but "What was that Jay? Huh? Can't hear ya mate?" The microphone didn't work for at least 6 bars. Peak.

Out popped this random Ras, once again I'm wondering "who's this random Ras? That isn't Jammer is it?" Please note: I didn't really wonder if it was Jammer; that was thrown in for (poor) comedy effect. Turns out, it was Damian's chef (shouts to @EmmaGemmaAmy follow her) turned host. He is the second of the 3 randoms. The last is a hero amongst men, women and children. I'm sure you've all heard about him "drum roll please" *clears throat* "he iiiiiis...the real flag man!" For those of you unfamiliar with the flag man, artists from the Rastafarian faith always have one on stage waving a red, gold and green flag. He is an integral part of the proceedings.

On to the headline performance, they entered with As We Enter, obviously. Well it was just a snipped before Tribes At War then Nah Mean. Nas performed the second verse Nah Mean over the Bam Bam riddim (Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus & Pliers fully equipped with a dancehall mix (if you know what I'm talking about, you know. If you don't, it's when the instruments play in stabs). Not gonna tell you the whole set list because they will be back in April. Nas solo material up first; a track from I Am... (Nas is Like) and Illmatic (Represent), Hip Hop is Dead (the irony of that tune; good message but dead tune), couple tracks from It Was Written (Street Dreams & If I Ruled the World). Damian rejoined Nas for a couple more Distant Relatives tracks then Damian's solo set. Damian started with The Mission (same riddim as Mavado 'On The Rock'), before his verse on the remix of Mykal Rose's 'Shoot Out'. Next up were a couple songs I'm sure majority of the crowd never knew but the whole place was rocking and "ah walk and skank". A couple Bob Marley tracks were performed, but they weren't the obvious (No More Trouble, can't remember the other). It is worth pointing out Jr. Gong seemed to come into his element after taking a rather laid back approach earlier whilst Nas handled majority of the verses.

Once again more songs from the album, one thing I do remember is Nas either forgetting the lyrics or not being able to catch the beat on Promise Land. From I heard the album, that track stood out as the one Nas seemed to find the most difficult.

Nas' solo bit seemed to be a bit more "commercial fan-friendly" with tracks like Made You Look, Got Yourself a Gun, and Hate Me Now, but amongst the other songs Damian performed, the moment it sounded like most people waited for was "Out in the streets, they call it murther" (yes Ini Kamoze says "murther" not "murder") from Welcome To Jamrock. If sound could lift a roof off a building, Hammersmith would be a drop top. He had no choice but to wheel it from top and drop again my selector-tor-tor *fade out*...

Now I can't remember the next bit properly, so forgive me if the order is incorrect. Somewhere along the lines they performed a song where it seemed like the whole crowd had a lighter, my favourite song Africa Must Wake Up, they disappeared, crowd chanted for more, random Ras/host asking if we want more, deafening response, Nas performed One Mic, Damian Marley performed Could You Be Loved, As We Enter, the end.

Oh and Amy Winehouse was whining up next to the speaker. She's a friend of both Nas and Damian. In fact, her and Jr. Gong was supposedly working together at one point last year. Hope those songs come to light.

In conclusion, I believe people will look back on this as the concert of the year. The fact they performed all but one track from a 14-track album to a great response, proves to me, it is a solid album. Not to compare or put them against each other (but I am doing both), Damian Marley is by far the better performer of the two. Good music still lives. Album sales of the album may not be good, but if they keep selling out shows with stellar performances, they will make some good money. You don't have to talk about hustling and frontin' to be popular. And finally, when they return, it is imperative that you go to see them!!!

Lastly, if you blagged tickets to go to Wireless Festival to see Jay-Z yet again last week, but didn't even think to blag this one, #iCantRateYou


  1. Hey, good post. I'm seeing them in brooklyn on july 31. VERY EXCITED :) but I was wondering about how many people were at the london's general admission, and I was just wondering how early I should show up for a good spot. Thanks!

  2. I was there.. loved it. Damian killed it. Btw the song you cant remember after War (no more trouble), was Love and Inity

  3. Brilliant post. Wish I had made the effort to go now!


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