Whether it's Busy Signal absorbing Chalie Boy or M.I.A. absorbing both, fertility along the rap-reggae border is eternal and very 2010. Yet nobody quite expected Queens hip-hop lifer Nas and toasting Jamaican scion Damian Marley, both living up to legends bigger than their present-day selves, to sound as good as they do together. The conceptual link is Africa, diasporic connections as specific as sampling Ethiopian internationalist Mulatu Astatke—on their irrepressible summer jam "As We Enter"—or as universalist as Nas pointing out, near the end of the Def Jam album Distant Relatives, that to be human is to have common, African family. If that sentiment seems too easy, the ingenious funk reggae of "Africa" and "Tribal War" (both featuring K'naan, not coincidentally) is persuasion enough, swinging elegantly between synthesizers and strings on the strength of a live rhythm section you should see. That beat and the voices—one cool and quick, one tender and cracking—are all that power "Count Your Blessings" past corn into a resilient optimism that's about the best Obama could hope for at this point. 18+.
Mon., Sept. 6, 8 p.m., 2010