Artist: NasTitle: Hip Hop Is Dead PREVIEWRating: 5 StarsReviewed by: Robert Longfellow<font face="verdana" size="2"
Again, that is not the rating, but most of y'all won't bother even reading this line so at least wipe the foam from the side of your rabid mouths. Last night (Thursday, November 9th), AllHipHop.com was strategically inside New York City's Sony Studios along with a host of scribes, label reps, Nas gofers and cute chicks that got hip to God's Son last week to peep Nas' new album Hip-Hop is Dead: The N. Morose title aside, Nas publicity budget is alive and well as guests were treated to 11 and a half (the "half" would be more like 30 seconds of a Nas and Jay-Z collabo) new Nas joints while provided with free liquor and BBQ. Here's a gander at, as per the "program" that was distributed, "a session to Celebrate the Resurrection of Hip Hop"...
QG Tru G - After an intro from Nas himself talking about having a love and hate relationship with Hip-Hop, we get down to business and the album is started. Beforehand he mentions Jay-Z's presence in the studio tonight. Gives the obligatory thanks, yada, yada, yada.
With all the hype, the first note on this album better be phenomenal. A slow rolling boom bap beat with whistling highlights is heard. Sounds like Dre. Yep, it is Dre's production, with Game dropping a verse on the joint for good measure. Yeah, the Compton homie is name dropping but hey, Nas helped him close out Doctor's Advocate so why not jump on the intro here? Nas raps something about being a Compton nigga with a New York State of Mind. Not exactly an apocalyptic, "this will save the art of rap" jam, but a nice enough kick off with Nas rapping something about being the first New York nigga rhyming with Dr. Dre. True enough.
Won't Go Back - Sleepy keys and hard drums make this beat. Kind of reminiscent of that Sting sample the Trackmasters flipped on It Was Written. Got some smooth humming and singing from some singing dude on there too. Sounds like Quan, but that cant be him. Nas mentions something about a terry clothe rob and the hood being in him but he's never going back. True.
You Mean The World To Me - From jump this is obviously the latest Nas narrative rap about some chick, probably Kelis. The track is fully of airy organs, you expect it to pick up, but it doesnt. The second verse tells a tales of girlfriend and baby daddy drama. Autobiographical, unlikely. But he should be leaving that alone for a minute.
Play On Playa - Ahh yes, a silky Marvin Gaye sample from his I Want You masterpiece propels this song. Now that's a classic. Snoop Dogg is on the help out. This is getting the biggest reaction in the room, even amidst the industry schmoozing going down.
Where Are They Now - It's damn hard to fugg up a James Brown sample: "Get Involved". Yeah, I snitched on the source but since this The N is a Sony/Def Jam release, they'll surely clear the joint. Big Daddy Kane, eat your hear out. The songs drops old school MC names but is more of a tribute than a dis. Mr. Cee is in the building and by the pained look on his grill, he digs it.
Carry On Tradition - Choice quote, "Everybody got a label, everyone's a rapper but few flows is fatal." Indeed. Speaking of, where is Joe Fatal? Anyway, wack rappers should take note of this song. Maybe it will make them realize how fraudulent their flow are since on a bad day Nas is better than like 92% of these imposters with with microphones. This is the b*tch and moan about the state of Hip-Hop track (He mentions something about the live in the park sound verse the studio sound).
After this track finished they decided to play the intro of the Nas and Jay-Z collabo, but stopped. What part of the game is that? Mr. Cee is pleading for them to "go in". They don't. Bamas.
"Hip-Hop Is Dead"- Sounds familiar? Same In A Gadda De Vida sample, but probably just a different version, courtesy of will.i.am. Still pales in comparison to "Thief's Theme", though. Will.i.am will redeem himself, later on.
Still Dreamin - On the intro Nas wonders out loud if Langston Hughes and Alex Haley (might not have been Haley...hey, Grey Goose and Hennessey was free up in this piece) smoked before they wrote stories. Ok, the beat is eh. Sounds like some soft chanting going down in that background and that ain't Hip-Hop. Actually, this song is likely better if listened to when under the influence. Wait, Chris Webber produced this joint?
Blunt Ashes - Bong! This Kanye produced joint is sick. Did he have to rhyme on it though? Slick drum programming and some dreamy vocals make this sounds like a way smoother take on "Black Girl Lost."
Let There Be LightThis incessant R&B crooning on rap records can be irritating at times. Despite the singing with an Aaron Hall type tone, Nas manages to drop cocksure (no Mark Foley) quips: "Nas is the ghetto American Idol, whatever you do, you still aint taking away my title."
Can't Forget About You - After the Def Jam publicist plays game show host and instructs the crowd to pay close attention, we are made privy to industrial flavored drums and distorted, psychedelic feeling keys . Seems like the best track was saved for last and it's a winner. While beat heads wrap their ears around the groove, Nas refrains is: "When's the last time you heard a real anthem?/Nas, the millionaire the mansion /When was the last time your heard your boy Nas rhyme, never on schedule but always on time."
There's also another ditty in there about "heinous crimes selling more records than creative rhymes." Can't say he's lying. Oh yeah, word is this sick groove is another Will.i.am joint. As the track concludes he lets it becomes clear Will done flipped Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable." Gangsta.
Supposedly there are few more tracks being mixed and mastered (is one of them a track with DJ Premier?) while that song with Jay-Z is being held under wraps. Hip-Hop Is Dead is definitely a more streamlined effort than Nas' last Street's Disciple album. The title may have folks running their jaws, but talks of Hip-Hop's, and for that matter Nas', demise are greatly exaggerated.