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Nas - Hip hop is dead

2007-04-13 11:42
Although Nas criticises hip hop killers in the title track Hip hop is dead : (“Everybody sound the same, commercialize the game / Reminiscin' when it wasn't all business /They forgot where it started”), Nas knows that there were moments in his career when even he had sold out (remember “Hate Me Now” with Puffy aka P. Diddy aka Diddy?).

It is for this reason that fans will feel that HHID is no Illmatic, Nas’ debut and best work to date.

Nas does, however, admit his role in the homicide on “Carry On Tradition”.- “I feel it's a problem we gotta resolve / hip hop been dead, we the reason it died / wasn't Sylvia's fault or 'cause MCs skills are loss / it's 'cause we can't see ourselves as a boss / deep rooted through slavery, self hatred” and on the track “Black Republican”: "We used to be a ghetto secret / can’t make my mind up if I want that / or the whole world to peep it.”

Ironically, Hip hop is Dead is very much alive. Nas is more than just a rapper. He is a storyteller and a lyricist, delivering with honesty and conviction. He examines a variety of subjects including politics, culture, and the rap game. He has a lot to say, especially about the rap game, about hip hop’s demise and the hope that it will be resurrected. His skills are predictably on point, and he spits from the heart.

On “Let there be Light”, Nas answers those who have criticised his commercial success and called him a sell out: “I can't sound smart because you'll run away / They say I ain't hungry no more and I don't talk about yay / Like there's no other way for an ex hustler, cake getter, Ex rich splitter to touch ya / I beg to differ / When you’re four years in the game we can have a conversation / Eight years in the game, I'll invite you on vacation / Ten years in the game / after I've enjoyed my fame, only then I'll let you pick my brain”

Nas may not be letting many people pick his brain, but he has invited The Game and Kanye West to join him on this album, and – as a result – they have created two of the best tracks. “Hustler”, which is laced with Dr Dre’s signature beats, makes the The Game/Nas partnership look like it was meant to be. The chemistry is remarkable. Equally captivating is the Kanye-produced “Still Dreaming”, where Nas and Kanye are just continuing from where they left off, after their collaboration on “We Major” from Kanye’s Late Registration. Chrisette Michelle lends her amazing talent with jazzy vocals to make this track a sure hit.

Other standout tracks include “Black Republican” with Jay-Z and “Let There Be Light” with Tre Williams.

Nas’ weakness is failure to pick outstanding beats. So it’s no surprise that “Play On Playa” with Snoop Dogg is mediocre, as is “Blunt Ashes”. And collaborating with your wife is not always a good idea, as “Not Going Back” featuring Kelis will demonstrate.

On the whole Hip hop is Dead is an ingenious album, one that Nas will hold up with pride as one of his achievements. Maybe he doesn’t truly believe that hip hop is dead after all, but he does want to save it. He wants people to care about hip hop (again) and talk about it. It would therefore be disappointing should the death of hip hop rob fans of any future Nas albums.

- Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala

In the end, Hip Hop Is Dead is the album I'll give to people in 20 years when they ask who Nas was.
-Peter Macia,

The hip hop debate: Click here put your two cents in.
If hip hop is dead, then Nas is one of the many MCs caught in the room with the smoking gun.

What to read next: Kalahari

Martin Maseko 2007/04/03 4:36 PM
Hip Hop is Dead My first cd bought was illmatic and I fell in love with Nas's Work, he's the only MC who can express himself in a humble manner and vividly. I have never been disappointed with his work and as far as the beats are concern, people have to listen carefully as to why he choses those beats, there a way about nas when he makes a record, he wants it to sound a certain way and he's still old school at heart. People need to be less concern with the beats, instead listen to his lyrics.
Qaqambile 2007/04/07 9:11 AM
hiphop is dead I think hip hop is not dead and Nas proved that. The best album Nas did was Stillmatic
Supreme_Being 2007/04/07 2:40 PM
Hip Hop Aint Dead... - Nomfundo H Mbaba+Tshabalala , u must be out of ure mind ifu think the "Play on Playa" beat with Snoop by Scott Storch is not impressive then girl u dont know hip op...thats a classic beat and only the real can feel it. it seems like u only concerned with commercial beats but jus like Martin Maseko said, concentrate on his lyrics Hip aint dead but its in a comma and needs the good Doctor to operate on the current state of hip doubt the South killed Hip Hop with their flashy lyrics bragging about cars, houses by the lake, how much money they got and how many women they sleep with every week and thats what has put hip hop into a comma not in the grave.
Abednego 2007/04/12 11:29 AM
hiphop is ead hiphop is dead but the game is the who is going to take it to another level
artimus1 2007/04/17 10:06 AM
hip hops been dead since its creation im inclined to beleive that hip hop has always been dead cause very few have ever really understood its underlying meaning as with any music with a real message it always becomes the thing your fighting. NAS and a all hiphoppers in it for the money will keep killing what started on the streets as a way to release some angst. so let the dogs bicker over scraps while those of us who rap graph and b-boy do our thing (usually part-time) this is vagina monologs cause mc's are too pussy to say shit (bigg juss poor peoples day) nas is a business man and the sheep need sheppards so keep looking to others instead of looking within you and all things true will stay dead! stop blaming rappers and dj's its the listners who are killing hip-hop
Minddo 2007/05/11 7:24 PM
hiphop hiphop iz not dead,not yet ,maybe it'll never die. i think iz jus that iz been commercialized and that'z y NAS says everybody sound the same,and that answer ya question of NAS's dope beats that you got problem jus listen to tha man and enjoy hiphop coz it 'll neva die,not when he iz stillmatic.
Kgethi 2007/09/17 2:17 PM
Nas nuts HipHop will never die Mr Escobar or Jones.It's your flow that is DEAD.Have you listened to Lupe Fiasco or The Game?Nas' music died da day he wed Kelis.
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