Sat. Jun 25th, 2022

As the stale state of Hip-Hop continues to leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who have grown weary of the southern takeover, Nas finally returns with his highly anticipated and controversial album, Hip Hop is Dead.
On his first release as a Def Jam artist, the once chipped toothed don delivers a refreshing dose of New York Hip-Hop. It may have some people wondering if Nas’s boss may have saved the best for last when he asked some 11 years ago, “Who’s the best emcee/ Biggie, Jay-z, or Nas?”
While the title track and overall theme of the CD is claiming that Hip-Hop is dead, ironically Nas spends the length of the album proving his own assertion to be false.
In “Carry On Tradition,” Nas delivers a lyrical spanking to the emergence of artists who claim to not be rappers but hustlers. “Some of these new rappers got they caps flipped backwards/ with they fingers intertwined/ it’s some gang sign madness/ I got an exam/ let’s see who can pass it/ Let’s see who can come up with a Daddy Kane line the fastest.” Though not one to point fingers, Nas also holds himself accountable, confessing, “Hip-Hop has been dead/ We the reason it died.”
Continuing to carry on the tradition of legends like Rakim and KRS-One, Nas shines the brightest on tracks that encourage instead of condemn his listeners. The Williams featured, “Let There Be Light” allows Nas to deliver the ghetto gospel in a way that we have not seen in some time, with relevant lines like, “Let there be light/No gang banging in New York tonight.”
With songs “Can’t Forget About You,” featuring gospel singer and recently signed Def Jam artist Chrisette Michele, and “Where Are They Now” featuring a posthumous James Brown sample, Nas takes listeners through nostalgic tales of days past, while managing to create tracks that have the potential to garner radio spins.
Powerful production and a lyrical prowess that is unrelenting make it very easy to forgive Nas for his minor mishaps. For instance, on the Kelis featured “Not Going Back” he admirably pays tribute to the hood he loves but refuses to go back to. However, skip ahead two tracks, and you got the king of contradiction from Queens professing his street credibility on “Hold Down The Block.”
Although the majority of the collaborations are effective, (i.e. the thematic “Black Republican” featuring Jay-z and the inspiring “Still Dreaming” featuring Kanye West) the unnecessary verse from West Coast rapper Snoop only slightly detracts from the groove of the Scott Storch produced “Play on Playa.”
Whether you agree or disagree with Nas, one thing is for sure, you already know he doesn’t mind if you hate him now. Besides, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell, hip-hop is not what it used to be. However, with God Son’s current New York State of Mind, he has managed to offer an enlightening solution for resurrecting something that he has proven has eternal life. Who said contradictions had to be a bad thing?

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