Hip Hop Is Dead

Artist: NasTitle: Hip Hop Is DeadRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: AJ FreshDue to the current

trend of proclaiming Hip-Hop’s demise, Nas’ eighth album Hip Hop Is Dead (Def

Jam), is pretty timely. If anything, the controversial title could make it a critical

component to the success and ongoing longevity of true Hip-Hop music-if it’s any

good. Nas’ impeccable delivery, and ability to manipulate verse while addressing

predicaments relevant to rap music is present throughout the solid 16-track album.

Hip

Hop Is Dead is a stab at the current state of popular mediocrity in Hip-Hop

and is a testament to why Nas is still considered-by a sizeable amount of fans

and even begrudging detractors-a trend setting artistic genius. On

the title track in demand producer and part time Black Eyed Peas band member will.

I. am delivers a heavy rock cadence which forces Nas to drop verses in perfectly

syncopated rhyme while bringing his point to the masses, Hip-Hop needs resuscitation.

If Hip-Hop is dying, Nas is the electronic defibrillator only used when the blood

pressure has dropped below life sustaining beats. Nas

continues his life saving missions throughout the ensemble with revitalizing wit,

sincere consciousness and dapper arrogance. On the morbid "Blunt Ashes",

produced by Chris Webber (yes, that Chris Webber) Nas raps about the suicide deaths

of Phyllis Hyman and Donnie Hathaway over macabre and hauntingly sorrowful effects.

But

in true Nas fashion, and showcasing his diversity, immediately following the somber

number God’s Son brings you back up the emotional ladder with the Kanye West produced

"Let There Be Light". An uplifting and inspirational recording, equipped

with wind blowing sound effects, cymbal crashing drum riffs and background vocals

delivered by street gospel crooner Tre Williams. The listener is left feeling

like everything will be all right. On

the LES produced "Black Republican,” the collaboration with labelmate

and boss Jay-Z, Nas raps about loyalty to the hood, and being a solution in the

form of a young black militant. Delivered over a beat with strong symphonic tones

coupled with the stringy violins and of course the ever-prevalent old school drum

pulses, the track evokes thoughts of power. Nas

continues his proactive rescue of our culture on the self produced track "Where

Are They Now", where he pays homage to the legends and lost rappers by shouting

out names ("Redhead Kingpin, Tim Dog, have you seen ’em, Kwame, King T or

King Sun…" (Ed. Note: Kwame’s been making some mean tracks for a minute)

over a diced up, trumpet infused James Brown sample. After

the serene, Nat King Cole sampling "Can’t Forget About You" and the

chest thumping "Hustlers" with Dr. Dre outcast The Game, the album concludes

with "Hope". The acapella finds Nas as raw as he has been in a very

long time; straight lyrics complimented by the robust cries from singing powerhouse

Chrisette Michele. Only

time will tell if the qualms with Hip-Hop that Mr. Jones has infused into Hip

Hop Is Dead will serve as hope and a turning point as far as the culture’s

debateble creative rut. Probably not, but it will firmly stand as another quality

effort added to a discography that won’t be checking out anytime soon.

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