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Nas - Hip-Hop Is Dead (Def Jam)

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The Bottom Line

Nas’ agenda is clear this time:
  1. To make a great album
  2. To make sure everyone knows it’s a great album

Pros

  • Nas successfully connects the past with the present
  • Features vintage Nas

Cons

  • None

Description

  • First single from Nas' Hip-Hop Is Dead.
  • Produced by Will.i.am.
  • Reuses the "Thief’s Theme" beat.

Guide Review - Nas - Hip-Hop Is Dead (Def Jam)

In between this pursuit of greatness and his obligation to fans’ wishes, Nas finds himself in familiar territory: at the threshold of another historic album. It is for this reason that Nas does not trounce, but tread on the recycled beat. Nas has been here and it shows, “Any ghetto will tell you Nas helped grow us up /My face once graced SONY promotional trucks." Many may be disappointed with the more than obvious reworking of "Thief’s Theme" in the beat, including the electric guitar riff and marching band drums, but Nas follows the beat back to yesteryear with vintage material, “grindin’ hittin’ Brazilian dimes from behind.”

Nas is not trying to send a message, but convince us of the message: hip-hop is dead. This is not damnation, a discovery, or a mystery, however, but practical pep talk intended more for the player than the team. The player is Nas, as should be no surprise, he welcomes this burden: "If hip hop should die, we die together /Bodies in the morgue lie together”.

He plays quarterback, giving his influences a righteous, instead of a touchdown, pass (“what influenced my raps: stick ups and killings”), then running back, bulldozing the fact that “most intellectuals will only half listen, so you can’t blame jazz musicians." No cheerleading is necessary, Nas does that himself too, “I helped blow them up…so like my girl Foxy, a n***** went Def."

If Nas’ agenda is clear, then the expectations are discriminating and narrow: give hip hop the best album from any artist, any era. And, Nas does his best to negotiate reality with expectations.

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