Nas and Damian Marley Cruise Through UK

Under the spotlight: Nas & Damian Marley

Under the spotlight: Nas & Damian Marley

Damian “Jr Gong” Marley and his ‘Distant Relatives’ mission partner, Nasir “Nas” Jones, cruised through the UK on a 3-day musical blitz, which covered cities, London, Glasgow and Manchester. Diasporaw.net made sure to catch them in full action.

In London, Nas and Damian appeared at the world famous Wembley Arena and they were supported by soul goddess, Erykah Badu, and dancehall-reggae icon Spragga Benz, who also followed them on the rest of their trip. In Glasgow, they did their thing at the O2Academy and in Manchester they chose to perform at the grand O2Apollo.

In The Apollo, as the O2Apollo is commonly known, the queuing crowd was let in on time, between 630pm and 7pm. Inside, the MC hyped the crowd up as mostly hip-hop and reggae/reggae-dancehall music played in the background. Later on, he announced the arrival on stage of Spragga Benz. Spragga Benz came in with the some songs from his latest album “Shotta Culture”, and then he took his set back to the 90s, with tracks that made him a household name in Jamaica, back in the day. He lamented the death of UK reggae icon, Smiley Culture, “in the hands of babylon (police)”, and dedicated a song to him, before talking about his son, who faced a similar fate about 2 years ago. He also sung a song in memory of his son and then came back to his current songs. Spragga’s set was well received, although when he was performing, some members of the audience seemed not to quite understand his lyrics, which were delivered via a raw and strong patois-toasting.

The main MC came back on stage and a DJ played, mostly old school hip-hop records, with a vinyl and cassette-tape sound as the MC reminded those in the know and educated the young and unaware, about where hip hop came from. Another DJ came and played, mostly reggae songs, in a similar fashion.

Africa Must Wake Up

Africa Must Wake Up

The MC then introduced the main DJ for the night, DJ Green Lantern, who came on and busted some strong hip-hop and dancehall-reggae songs, but did not go on for long. Before letting Nas and Damian come on stage, he played a song by two hip-hop heavyweights, The Notorious BIG and Tupac, whom he called his number 1 and 2 in the game, respectively. At this point, it was close to 10pm and a Rastafarian man came onto the stage, and introduced “Nas, Escobar” and “Damian, Junior Gong” to the crowd. The crowd erupted ecstatically as the two artists walked onto the stage with their hit song, “As We Enter”. What happened after that cannot be easily explained with simple words. The artists went from tune to tune with songs from their collaborative album as the 3500 capacity crowd sang/rapped along. The spotlight was surely on them.

It wasn’t long before Junior Gong left the stage and Nas was left holding the fort, with the band and back up dancers of course. He proved why he is always ranked as one of the best MCs ever. He started with hits from multiplatinum “Illmatic”, his first album, and came back to some of his recent work. Damian was back shortly and they went back to “Distant Relatives”.

The most notable performance in that section was of the song “Dispear”. The 2 female dancers acted like they are from another planet, with some wild but entertaining moves. The instrumentalists, who were partially dressed in military attire, kept the vibe equally militant. As per the norm, Nas left the stage to let Damian talk to the crowd on his own and Damian did so impressively, taking the crowd back to the 70s, with songs by his father and up-tempo remix versions with which he got the crowd throwing fists in the air. He did a couple of his own songs before Nas came back to the stage and they carried on. The two showed how they have bonded as an act as they gave a world class performance. Damian’s presentation with Nas is the best I have ever seen him give alongside someone that is not his blood brother.

The most touching moment of the night was when they performed “Africa Must Wake Up”, before which, Nas talked about the reason why the two artists came together for the project. Nas expounded on how he believes he is a related to everyone. Speaking to the crowd, which was mixed, but about 80% caucasian, he said “Damian is from Jamaica, I am from New York, you are from Manchester, but we are here together..” He also said that,”…it doesn’t matter when you from, Africa, Europe, India, we are all one family, so why should anyone be suffering…” Damian asked for people to light their lighters or wave a cellphone, and soon after, most of the main lights were lit off, and a sea of lighters and phones could be seen glowing in the dark, as everyone sung along to the chorus of the song.

When the artists left, the crowd called for an encore and they came back with more electricity. Nas did a song with Spragga Benz and then with Damian and they closed the show. The crowd was pleased.

The next dates are in Europe and USA as below, but Nas announced in an interview below that the finale will be in Africa. Surely these artists are doing a better job in representing Africa than ‘some’ African artists.

04/04/11 Brussels, BE Ancienne Belgique
04/05/11 Paris, FR Zenith
04/07/11 Crans Montana, CH Le Caprices Festival
04/08/11 Zurich, CH Komplex
04/09/11 Milan, IT Palasharp
04/11/11 Amsterdam, NL Paradiso
04/14/11 Lisbon, PT Atlantico
04/16/11 Las Vegas, NV The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Ok, this deserves an encore. These guys may not be topping pop charts (which obviously indicates the deplorable state of the industry), but they are filling arenas, staging sold out tours, and the crowds are loving their music.

Check the guys out in Brussels, two days after, clearer video and clearer sound.

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