Nas released his 11th solo album this past weekend titled “Nasir”. This album had many years of anticipation leading up to it. In 2010 Nas was rumored to have worked on a Kanye West produced album in Hawaii that never saw the light of the day and then he dropped “Life Is Good” in 2012. On two DJ Khaled albums, we heard proclamations that the “Nas Album Done” and we patiently waited with no reward. Now it’s finally here!
Right off the bat, you can feel maturity in the perspective of Nas, and it’s potential influence on the Hip Hop landscape as a whole. This album is coming off the heels of Kendrick’s “Damn”, J Cole’s “KOD”, Jay-Z’s “4:44”, and Childish Gambino’s single “This Is America” which all are influenced by current climate in society. Nas starts off his album with bars like “Black Kemet Gods, Black Egyptian Gods, Summoned from heaven blessed, dressed in only Goyard” which automatically instill confidence in listeners by reminding them of their history.
Then on the same track, Nasir provides more perspective when he states:
To Catholics, Moors and Masons (motherfuckers!)
John Hanson was not the first black pres to make it
Abe Lincoln did not free the enslaved
Progress was made ’cause we forced the proclamation
(Fuck your proclamation!)
SWAT was created to stop the Panthers
Glocks were created for murder enhancement
For hunting men, circumstances
Edgar Hoover was black
Willie Lynch was a myth, Colombians created crack
The government made stacks (welcome to America, niggas!)
Reagan had Alzheimer’s, that’s true
Fox News was started by a black dude, also true (fuck you too!)
In a day and age of Google, lyrics like these are monumental and push listeners to do much-needed research on their history to formulate their own opinions on social issues. “Not For Radio” definitely sets the tone for the albums socio-political references.
Nas follows up that performance with “Cops Shot The Kid” where Kanye West samples the legendary Slick Rick song. It opens with a racially charged Richard Pryor dialogue and then Slick Rick’s lyrics for the sampled hook drop. And for those who have lost faith in Kanye West his verse on here reminds you that he is not lost! Nas and Kanye West talk about the dichotomy of life in America for our black and white youth.
Nas raps . . .
So y’all are blowin’ my high
Type of shit that’s killin’ my vibe
White kids are brought in alive
Black kids get hit with like five
And Kanye raps . . .
Money is bein’ made when a mom cries
Won’t be satisfied ’til we all die
Tell me, who do we call to report crime
If 9-1-1 doin’ the driveby?
On “White Label” and “Bonjour” Nas takes a break from overt socio-political talk. While there are subtle bars that address the social landscape these songs are filled with how Nas maneuvers through social circles and environments with confidence and enjoys the fruits of his labor.
On “White Label” he raps . . .
A million cash for a Nas feature
Nas cheaper, do it for free if you do it for me
52 bar verse if the beat is movin’ me
Stumble through customs, coppin’ Cubans at the Duty Free
Layin’ on the most expensive beds, still I’m losin’ sleep
Next to Jet’s Beauty of the Week 1993
Chin grabber, neck choker, in her mouth spitter
Blouse ripper, ass gripper, that dig you out nigga
On “Bonjour” he raps . . .
Eat at selective kitchens
Speak on our next intentions
Over-creamy Polenta, it come chef recommended (bonjour)
Then Nas closes out the album with his final 3 tracks being a hybrid of the first four. He floats back and forth through political commentary and cultural tastes with a touch of self reflection. On “Everything” he raps “When the media slings mud, we use it to build huts” reminding you of how resilient we are as a people. Then he raps “Listen vultures, I’ve been shackled by Western culture, You convinced most of my people to live off emotion” and “People do anything to be involved in everything, Inclusion is a hell of a drug” to address the peer pressure and group think that takes place in America.
On “Adam and Eve” he reflects . . .
After my morning walk, Havana cigar, the ganja spark
See my doctor more, sweatin’ the sauna or the spa
Spendin’ fifty large at the Bellagio
Spent twenty on a bad bitch I hardly know
New girl every night, two girls was every other night
Sexual addiction, gangster tradition
They wanna fuck me, have me under they belt, slightly offended
Yeah, that’s how I felt, that’s how it ended
And on “Simple Things” you see more of it when he raps . . .
Rollin’ dice, throw no aces
With my gangsters, we discussin’ buyin’ acres
Other safe bets, nothin’ regular or basic
Ridin’ back to back, me and Jungle in some spaceships
Nas has been at his best when he shares lessons learned and essentially serves as a mentor through his music. He does that to perfection on this album. Some have critiqued Kanye’s production on this album but I think it perfectly compliments Nas. We have heard more dynamic production from Kanye in regards to the combination of sounds but that was not necessary for Nas. It’s cool to hear once in a while as we heard with Nas’ features on DJ Khaled and DJ Esco’s projects but on a Nas album, I want him in his own element. In my opinion, the beats provided are modern versions of the classic sounds we associate Nas with such as “One Mic”, “If I Ruled The World”, and even the classic sound of Nas and Kanye’s famous collaboration “We Major”.
If I was being picky and had to give a critique I’d ask for more Nas verses or bars on some songs, but again that’s me being picky. I love the album as it is and this album could easily be Top 2 or 3 because it has ZERO skips on it and it has a perfect balance between consciousness and flare. He definitely hid the medicine in the candy with this one.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.