Nas and Damian Marley

As consolation for Rock the Bells skipping our city, that hip-hop festival's collaborating headliners branch off to play First Avenue, something they've both done before, and well, but never together. Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley's bracing street music of international black protest is expansive enough to include Nas rapping over an Ella Fitzgerald sample (singing an Irving Berlin tune) on "Road to Zion," from 2005's endlessly blast-able Welcome to Jamrock. Their beautiful friendship proceeded to a forthcoming album benefiting school construction in the Congo, Distant Cousins, recorded with horns and a live band in Los Angeles. Both the Queensbridge rap legend and the youngest performing son of Bob Marley have reputations to live up to, and not necessarily ones that have much to do with their present-day selves. But recent music from both suggests a mutual career peak, and few rap-reggae fusions have generated so much anticipation. 18+.
Tue., June 30, 8 p.m., 2009

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