Ok so I know I’d be just like everyone else if I said that no album Nas ever makes can ever compete to his 1994 masterpiece, Illmatic, but goddamnit his newest effort is close. With his 2006 release, Hip Hop is Dead, Kelis’s significant other is clearly maturing into a multidimensional emcee, while still trying to return to the roots that helped create Illmatic. I’ve always loved Nas, though I must say I haven’t enjoyed much of his new stuff, with the exception of a few songs (“Bridging the Gap”, “Got Yourself a Gun”). I’ve also never understood the ‘beef’ between him and another hip-hop mogul, Jay-Z. The two have been feuding for years, so I was absolutely stunned to hear Jay on Hip Hop is Dead‘s “Black Republican”. It’s a shame the two didn’t kiss and make up earlier, because they would’ve already made more unique tracks like this one.
The title track is my personal favorite, with up-and-coming producer Will.i.am (of Black Eyed Peas) pulling a Kanye with his sample of “In Da Gadda Da Vida”. This song shows a new dimension of Nas, since most of his top tracks are more reflective, slow, and lyrically strong (like “One Love” or “One Mic”, for example). Hip Hop is Dead is still chock full of these reflective tracks, but, in my opinion, the strong points of the album are tracks where Nas strays from this comfortable style. Songs like “Where Are They Now” and “Can’t Forget About You” demonstrate Nas’s multi-dimensional style, and I like what I hear so far.
The album release date is set for December 19th, but you can preorder the album here. Be sure to check it out when it drops, because Nas is back, and he’s at the top of his game.