Album Review: Nas - Nasir


Nas is my favorite rapper ever, I'm just going to be honest. I know he's got some problematic news breaking right now, but I can't write off Nas. I'm sorry, but it's clear a lot of people aren't. If the news hadn't made me want to, the album had me questioning Nas and his future in hip hop. His legacy is unquestionable, but the new album Nasir left us with questions about the future, especially when he's been telling us that the album is done for two years, and it's clear that's not what we got. Let's go track by track and look at the album, because it deserves that kind of attention, and it's only seven songs.

Not For Radio ft. Puff Daddy: I actually like this track, even if it sounded like Nas was rapping to a completely different track. We probably need to fact check a few things like, "Fox News was started by a black dude." I don't believe that one. He says some things like J. Edgar Hoover being black that are plausible because the idea that Hoover was a gay black man passing for white has been out there since the beginning. But Fox News? C'mon Nas. I also feel like this track was doing a lot to recreate the vibe of "Hate Me Now" a classic Nas track with Puff Daddy, screaming through the background. Again, it sounds like they were on a completely different beat that probably sounded a lot closer to "Hate Me Now."

Cops Shot the Kid ft. Kanye West: I hate this song with a passion. I don't hate Nas for it, he drops some Nas bars that you come to expect from a song about police shooting kids. He finishes his verse with:
White kids are brought in alive, black kids get hit with like five, get scared, you panic, you're goin' down, the disadvantages of the brown, how in the hell the parents gon' bury their own kids? Not the other way around? Reminds me of Emmett Till, let's remind 'em why Kap kneels
Here's where the issues come in. First off, this is the worst sample of Slick Rick ever. I don't need to hear Slick Rick tell us the cops shot the kid, 500 times to disguise the fact that it's a weak beat. If you think the production on this track is good, then you're delusional and really in love with Kanye West. On top of that Kanye has the nerve to spit some bullshit bars about cops doing drive bys and being paranoid by black people. Meanwhile this Jim Crow Negro is running around Wyoming yelling slavery was a choice, meeting with Donald Trump and posing with Trump supporters and hyping up black people that don't believe in racism. I hate this track with a passion. Kanye has the nerve to rap about people making money off black mother's tears, meanwhile he's trying to be best friends with those same people. How?

White Label - Just sounds like a throw away Life is good track. Long ass verse goes from love to how he started in hip hop. It's mostly forgettable and for some reason it sounds like Pusha T's song "The Games We Play" from Daytona. It's completely possible they were produced in the same session and Kanye plagerized Kanye.

Bonjour ft. Tony Williams - This is a great song from Tony Williams. It's not a Nas song at all. Nas raps about his lust for younger women and Tony sings some beautiful melodies. Yes, it's on a Nas album, and it has Nas verses, but it's 100% a Tony Williams song. Nas has multiple verses but none are really more than 4-6 bars and could have been one verse that was just split up. Seriously it's a great Tony Williams song.

Everything ft. Kanye West and The Dream: This is without a doubt the best track on the album. I kind of Wish someone besides Kanye sang on the hook. I mean The Dream was there already. But, with that being said it's one track I liked right away and didn't have to grow on me. It's just that good. This is a Nas song through and through. Three verses of just Nas talking about black people, the government, overcoming obstacles, love for your fellow man and trying to make amends for your wrongs. It's good and the best song on the album by far. Nothing else to say.

Adam and Eve: It's a forgettable track about how Nas has become lazy, as his daily routine is nice and easy. In comparison, there's also people who have just been lazy all their lives. Additionally it plays with the ideas that we either turn into our parents and grandparents or we go further.

Simple Things: I 100% believe this one is a throwaway from Life is Good. Nas reflects on the simple things in life. Things like being jealous of the love that they have in their simple relationships and things like that. It's forgettable and just over two minutes. You literally forget it's there.

Conclusion: The album actually grew on me, not every track, I still don't listent to "Cops Shot The Kid," ever and I occasionally skip "White Label," but the rest grew on me. The thing is, on a 7 track album if two of the songs are bad and the others aren't necessarily spectacular, the album can be seen as a dud. After Teyana Taylor revealed she heard her album and it was completely different tracks than what she had recorded, I know for a fact this isn't what Nas worked with Kanye on. You can tell because there's unnatural shifts in his voice. Nas is a slow speaker but if you listen to just the intro on "Not for Radio," it sounds like his voice is slowed down as if you manually slowed it down. None of the tracks really sound like Nas was rapping on the beats, Nas isn't great with beat selection but he can at least ride the beat, and he wasn't riding any of these beats.

Now let me say this, Nas you let Nas down this time. You let the fans down too, because everyone knows this is not the album you were working on. You were doing songs with Young Metro and DJ Khaled screaming the album was done to anyone that would listen. Nas isn't a GOOD Music artist or even affiliated like 2 Chainz, he didn't have to do this at all. It's clear he's trying to finish up the Def Jam contract because Def Jam hasn't always been the best home for Nas. They forced him to change the name of albums, they initially let him promise to release The Lost Tapes Vol.2 but backed out, causing him to pen open letters. They wouldn't ride with him when protesting Fox News. Everything was all good at Def Jame when Jay Z was running the show because he knew and respected Nas. But, Jay Z isn't there and the Def Jam ship is clearly sinking. Artist are fleeing the ship, Rick Rubin is a Trump supporter, Russell Simmons is accused of raping 17 women and his only response is to tell Terry Cruise to shut up. There was no damage control for the accusations that he and Kelis were acting like Ike and Tina, meanwhile other labels are doing anything they can to protect their artist.

It's okay if you want out of the contract. Financially, it was a lucrative deal, you don't need the money due to investments in outside companies that have turned into very profitable businesses. Just say the contract has left you unhappy due to all the constant disputes with Def Jam. You don't have to lie and say this is the album you've been working on because we know damn well that it isn't. It's a last minute project you threw together to get out your contract and that's okay. You know it, because usually when an album drops Nas is everywhere, but this time, he's nowhere. A few tweets about the album the week of and it was done. You don't care about the album. Teyana Taylor blew the cover on what we all knew. You probably didn't hear the album until the listening party and even then there were changes before it dropped the next day. You didn't like this album but you aren't saying that and it's okay.

A few of the tracks grew on me but that's it. It isn't a great album. It's not a labor of love like God's Son or Life is Good, it's not a reflection of society like Untitled or Illmatic, it's not even a braggadocios album like Stillmatic or Street's Disciple. That's okay, just don't lie about it. Don't sit there and feed us some lies about how each track represents one of the seven deadly sins because we're not going to sit there while some armchair hipsters break down what they think it means. It's Nastradamus the sequel, an album created to escape a record deal that just wasn't working anymore. You put Nastradamus in the hands of the label and you left Nasir in the hands of Kanye to get free, you were content showing up and hitting record then leaving. It is what it is, this is what you do Nas and that's okay. 5 cool tracks out of 7, that's a 71% so a C, an album that isn't horrible and isn't great, one that grows on your or falls to the wayside. That's what it is. I'm not even mad, just disappointed.

You should buy Darrell's Book, watch him on the Blerds Online YouTube Channel or The CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. 
Album Review: Nas - Nasir Album Review: Nas - Nasir Reviewed by Darrell S. on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 Rating: 5

1 comment:

  1. Nas is also my favorite rapper, but I'm in agreement with you. It feels much more like a first draft than a finished product. It feels like the point where Nas and Kanye get together, listen to it, discuss what works, what doesn't, and continue the process of fine-tuning it. Instead, they stopped here and shoved it out there. As for the individual songs, I'm okay with Cops Shot the Kid because it has some life, and I actually love Adam and Eve. That beat really works for me, and the vocals feel like a match. The rest of it...meh, at best.

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