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Throughout 2009, Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley have been tucked away in famed Los Angeles studios, recording their self-titled Distant Relatives album. Flowing along with the album’s potent union of Hip Hop and Reggae music and culture, the duo has joined National Geographic for a Distant Relatives event.

On December 12, Nas and Damian Marley will come together at National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium in Washington DC to lead a discussion on the cultural links between the early days of Hip Hop and its Caribbean and African origins. The discussion will travel the journey from Africa through the slave trade to the American and Caribbean colonies, spawning both the dancehall parties of Jamaica and the park jams of The Bronx.

Key figures of this discussion will be present. Moderated by Sway Calloway, the Distant Relatives event will include DJ Kool Herc, Rakim, Daddy U-Roy, King Jammy, Jeff Chang and Moussa Lo and DJ Red Alert – in addition to Nas and Marley.

This event is significant because it features the often reclusive “Godfather” of Hip Hop: Jamaican-born DJ Kool Herc, who brought about the music elements of the culture to The Bronx as early as 1973. Kool Herc is paired with legendary Jamaican deejay Daddy U-Roy a rarely-credited Rap pioneer for his 1969 hit “Wake The Town,” recorded in the country the same year Herc moved to the States. Also speaking together for one of the first times in history classic Rap innovators DJ Red Alert and will share the stage, as both have incoporated elements of African and Reggae music to their careers. Red Alert and Rakim will be joined by Hip Hop author and scholar Jeff Chang. The panel is coordinated by Reggae deejay and VIBE magazine founding editor Rob Kenner, presently authoring a book on the links between Reggae and Hip Hop.

The event will be taped to be included in the expected 2010 Distant Relatives documentary film, due around the release of the highly-anticipated album.

Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online and at and via telephone at (202) 857-7700, or in person at the National Geographic ticket office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Tickets purchased online can be picked up in the lobby prior to the event. The event is sponsored by VTech.

The event will also be streamed live at

An official after party at neighboring nightclub Zanzibar will feature an open microphone, and early reports claim the nightcap not to be missed. Said event is free to event ticketholders.