Nas, Damian Marley prep album

International tour to follow disc's June release

NEW YORK -- Queensbridge rapper Nas and reggae artist/producer Damian "Junior Gong" Marley have announced that they are in the studio prepping their collaborative effort, "Distant Relatives," slated for a late June release. The two first join forces on a track titled "Road to Zion" on Marley's 2005 "Welcome to Jamrock."

The album title is inspired by Nas and Damian's relationship, but also their shared African ancestry, which is a common thread throughout the album. "Africa is the backbone of the world and the foundation of everything and Africans are in a situation where they need help more than anywhere else," Damian Marley said in a statement.

"As an American, we have so much even in a so-called recession that a neighborhood like Queensbridge or Red Hook is Beverly Hills compared to the way people are living in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Ghana," added Nas. "So obviously if we making records with that theme, there's going to be things I want to build on. I think Africa has a lot to teach us."

The album release will be followed by an international concert tour.

As previously reported, Nas and Marley are among the headliners of this summer's Rock the Bells festival, along with Big Boi, Common, The Roots, KRS-One, House of Pain, Tech N9ne, Murs, RZA, Raekwon and others.