Nas: Hip Hop Is Dead

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"Carry on tradition" talks about rappers now hanging out with white and Chinese girls, forgetting about their roots and 'hoods they came from.

 

When Nas broke into the Hip Hop scene back in 1994 with his first album "Ilmatic," the scene at the time was dominated by West coast gangsta rap of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Nas, along with acts like Wu Tang Clan and B.I.G helped tip the Hip Hop balance back to NY. This time he is attempting to bring the old school flavor back into the game. Back in the days when it wasn't about money and cars, wasn't about gangsta lyrics but intricate skills and lyrical flow. Nas laments at the death of Hip Hop and blames the new rappers of today who apparently broke with the old tradition.
 
"Carry on tradition" talks about rappers now hanging out with white and Chinese girls, forgetting about their roots and hoods they came from. The song also addresses the issue of the old school rappers feeling that Hip Hop still owes them and he addresses new rappers who would do any thing to get in the game. "some of you new rappers I don't understand your code, you have your man shoot you like in a soprano episode." In "Where are they now," Nas goes through a list of old school rappers who have now been forgotten, some of these names have not been heard in a decade or longer.
 
Rappers like Force MDS, King Sun and Positive K. Moreover, quite fittingly he raps over a beat from back in the day when sampling a James Brown song was the sure way to get a hit rap song.
 
"Everybody sounds the same, commercialized the game, reminiscing when it wasn't just business, If it got where it started So we all gather here for the dearly departed from Hip Hop is dead is yet another grieving session, but at least William's production in which he uses a sample from Incredible Bongo Band livens up the atmosphere. In "Hope," Nas puts the blame for Hip Hop's demise on the corny rappers who are all about hustling. "you are a hustler you aint a rapper get your paper man, wanna be a hustler, get your paper man, but this rap shit is real."
 
This album also features songs that tackle other issues. In “play on play” Nas boasts about being a playa, “keep 20 gs in both sides of my thigh that’s four pockets, 80 thousand I brows for the nicest price.” Snoop Dogg guest appears on this track and as usual offers competent verses. “Can’t forget about you,” is a song about memories, again a verse is dedicated to old school rappers but only as being part of the many memories he retains—Tyson vs. Douglas fight also makes that cut in his memory banks. The song has a very mellow jazzy production, which sampled Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.” Defjam president Jay Z also appears in “Black republicans,” and the Game appears in the racy “Hustlers.”
 
Essentially the lyrical content in this album is one of lament on the state of Hip Hop today and a sense of nostalgia in which songs like “Hope” and “Where are they now,” clearly convey Nas’s state of mind. Nas simply rejects the notion that Hip Hop has simply moved on as rapper Young Jeezy put it in his recent interview with Monie Love. Jeezy says “I don’t think hip-hop is dead at all.” Adding, “It’s just a new day and time, it’s a new story, it’s a new movement.”

Jeezy took it as an insult to say that Hip Hop is dead, because he sees some of the blame being imputed on him by Nas. This album could be an attempt from Nas to resurrect Hip Hop, but I’m not quite sure what that would entail and what the end result would be. But one thing is for sure, it contains some of the best tracts you’ll hear this year.


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