Escobar season has returned, and this time he has returned with production from non-other than Mr. Yeezy himself. The last Nas album dropped in 2012, so it’s been 6 years since Nas has released an official studio album. The anticipation was enormous when Kanye announced in April via twitter that he would be producing Nas’s new album.
Since then everyone has been patiently waiting for the album, especially since Kanye West produced it. Everyone has been eager to hear what type of hits these two would conjure up. Kanye and Nas have worked together in the past sparsely.
Apparently, Kanye is the uncredited producer for Nas’s song on ‘The Lost Tapes’ titled ‘Poppa Was A Playa.’ Nas and Kanye have worked together on ‘We Major’ (2005) and ‘Still Dreaming’ (2006). Needless to say, those songs were great, but if those songs were any indication as to what those two can do, then we the audience would be in for something special.
This album is supposed to be Nas’s last album on Def Jam and it is rumored that he will be doing an album exclusively produced by DJ Premier. We’ll cross our fingers on that one. Mass Appeal Nas’s label/magazine has just inked a distribution deal with Universal Music Group.
Fast forward and we are now in the aftermath of the album release. I first heard the album on YouTube via the live stream listening party. My initial response was unsettled. I really didn’t know what to think. I was hyped to hear the music but was left disappointed after the listening party live stream. So I waited until the full album as available a listened to it again.
This album sounds more like a collaborative album from Nas and Kanye. This album has a more conscious vibe to it. This is typical for Nas but the content on this album has a lot of substance, in terms of what he is saying. In terms of how he says it and brings it across, sounds a little contrived, but generally, his delivery is in typical Nas form. I do think the album should have been longer, but I understand that in today’s microwave society, people need to be spoon fed baby portions.
Nas set the bar high for himself that even when he does great things lyrically, it still sounds typical and regular for Nas. However, this album is lyrically superior to anything out right now. With the exception of Black Thought’s recent release with producer 9th Wonder and Styles P latest album ‘G-Host.’
In terms of production and beats. I think Kanye specifically crafted the beats for Nas. They are Nas type of beats. He even speaks about his decision to not choose top 40 style beats. Some people feel the beats were Kanye’s throwaway beats, but to me, sonically the beats sound like Kanye style of sampling is more in line with Salaam Remi’s, but you can still hear Kanye influences throughout the album.
This album also sounds like a blend between ‘Life Is Good’ and ‘The Untitled “N” Album.’ One thing I can say for sure is that as a rapper, Nas has mastered the sound of what I call “Grown Man Rap” or “Grown Man Music” Here is my review song for song.
Adam & Eve
This track is probably the best song on the album. Lyrically this is the Nas we all have of come to respect and honor. Kanye laced this beat with that Soulful sound we have come to associate with him. This is ‘Blueprint’ Kanye. Kanye took the sample of a Persian Rock Musician from the 1970’s to make this beat. Nas opens up with “Ghetto Othello The Moor…” Very powerful way to open the song and it displays his awareness of his Moorish heritage and ancestry, which is pretty cool. I think it’s a good thing that Nas has brought more awareness to the Moorish Identity and culture. Kanye has also curated and styled the merchandise for Nas. He has incorporated a lot of Moorish American symbolism from the Moorish Science Temple. I suspect that Kanye’s upbringing in Chicago was somewhat influenced by the MSTA culture out there.
This is my second favorite song on the album. This is that classic 1996 vintage Nas we have come to expect. This is song has that ‘You Wouldn’t Understand’ from the “Life Is Good” album. He raps about the life of luxury, from a grown man’s perspective, and not from a typical “stunt” and “floss” style because he laces it with some gems about life, like when he says “watch who you getting pregnant, that’s long-term stressing.” He also speaks about investing money properly so that your children will benefit. Overall this song is a classic Nas song. The hook is great and classy. It has a soul, and jazz vibe, with a pinch of violin strings.
Not For Radio
This is a really good song. It had to grow on me a little before I started to rock with it. It has the feel of “Hate Me Now.” The orchestra-style sample and Puffy makes me think about “Hate Me Now.” Nas opens up strong on this song as well, with “Black Khemet Gods.” Once again he pulls on the conscious Hotep perspective on this track. He even brings up Moors again in reference to a popular myth among modern Moors concerning John Hanson. Overall this song knocks and Nas doesn’t fail to deliver lyrically. Kanye also did a pretty good job on the beat.
This is another banger. The sample and beat are classic Kanye. There is an added Jamaican sounding sample during the apex of the beat. Nas rhymes are sharp and fitting for the beat. There doesn’t seem to be a focus in terms of content and sounds more like a freestyle rap. Not that it’s a problem, because it goes along with the flow and vibe of the beat. He speaks about starting businesses and how the level he is at now, is above the average.
This song slows things down a lot. But its also a good song. Definitely another soulful sounding song. It’s smooth and laid back with a slow tempo and pace. This song in many ways is addressing DJ Vlad’s accusations about Nas “…being the worse beat picker.” Nas said “Never sold a record for the beat, it’s my verses they purchase / Without production, I’m worthless / But I’m more than the surface / Want me to sound like every song on the Top 40 / I’m not for you, you not for me, you bore me.” Check it out below.
This song is about 7 minutes. It’s another slow tempo song. It’s a “We Are The World” type of song. Kanye makes it a little cheesy for me with the singing, but it still works out, because the balance of Nas’s bars and Dreams vocals makes it solid. Nas sounds a little contrived with the delivery of his verses on this song, but overall he still does a good job with the lyrics and content. The beat is a really cool beat as well.
Cops Shot The Kid
This my least favorite song on the album. For starters, I don’t like how the Slick Rick sample plays through the verses of Nas. It makes it difficult to even hear what is being said. This song sounds like it’s taking from the hook of the ‘Nas A Don’ song from the album “Life Is Good.” The song is a cool song overall. Nas does a good job lyrically and Kanye actually did a good job. I think Nas wrote that verse for him. Either way, it ends up being something tolerable as an addition to the album.