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Nas States Hip Hop Is Dead On New Lp

Posted on November 7, 2006 by


Nasir Jones has a message: Something is terribly wrong with the state of hip-hop today.

One of the greatest MCs to ever pick up a microphone, Nas has watched as his beloved hip-hop has gone from its innocent days of B-Boy battles and lyrical sport to today's fake-thug posturing and commercial excesses, and he's got something to say about it. Throughout his storied career - which began with 1994's classic Illmatic and has spanned the last decade with over 12 million albums sold - Nas has been more than just the genre's foremost lyricist and thinker. He has become a statesman, some would argue hip-hop's "conscience."

As evidenced by last year's highly-publicized reconciliation with longtime adversary JAY-Z, and his subsequent signing to Def Jam Recordings, Nas has shown that actions speak louder than words: unity is more powerful than divisiveness. The time has come for hip-hop to grow. Now, with the December 19 release of his long-awaited Def Jam debut - the aptly-titled Hip-Hop Is Dead - Nas returns to his role as mentor and teacher, his legendary mic skills as sharp as ever, and takes today's young rappers back to school. The lesson? Hip-Hop - As Nas sees it - is very much alive.

"What I mean by 'hip-hop is dead' is we're at a vulnerable state," Nas recently told MTV News. "If we don't change, we gonna disappear like Rome. Let's break it down to a smaller situation. Hip-hop is Rome for the 'hood. I think hip-hop could help rebuild America... We are our own politicians, our own government, we have something to say."

Nas keeps it vital from jump. On "Q.B. True G," featuring Compton's The Game, the two MCs trade verses over a vicious Dr. Dre beat; the student pays homage to the teacher, remembering standing on line to cop Illmatic. On the Nas-produced "Where
Are They Now," Nas runs through a litany of classic, bygone MCs over a monster James Brown sample. "Still Dreamin'" features a soul-heavy beat and hook from Kanye West. Elsewhere, Snoop Dogg shows up on the west-coast tinged "Play On Player."

Will.I.Am productions show up twice on the album: the title track, "Hip Hop Is Dead" is set to a heavy rock beat interspersed with old-school breaks and showcases some of Nas' most dexterous mic work in years. "Unforgettable," featuring Def Jam songstress Chrisette Michele, riffs off a Nat King Cole sample, with Nas' looking forward to the golden years, while looking back on his past: "When was the last time you heard a true anthem/Nas, the millionaire, the mansion/When was the last time you heard your boy Nas rhyme/Never on schedule, but always on time."

Finally, Nas brings an uncompromising political stance on "White Man's Paper (War)" featuring Damien Marley. Set to a throbbing Bob Marley sample, Nas flirts with controversy, chanting: "I get my news from that white man's paper/So I get my views from that white man's paper/ My people act a fool for that white man's paper/And I
don't think it's cool, Fuck that white man's paper/ No books in our school cuz that white man's paper, Is droppin' cruise missiles on the head of our neighbors/And I'm like why?"

The tones and themes throughout Hip-Hop Is Dead should be familiar to Nas fans: defiance and wisdom, mourning and hope. However, his perspective, focus and intensity have changed. There is a new sense of urgency in Nas' pleas for change.

"When I say 'hip-hop is dead,' basically America is dead," Nas continues. "There is no political voice. Music is dead. Our way of thinking is dead, our commerce is dead. Everything in this society has been done. That's where we are as a country."

Hip-Hop Is Dead, and the remarkable circumstance leading up to its creation, marks a new passage in Nas' story. While the past is certainly gone, and the present is constantly changing, with a new label and an incredible new album, Nas' future is an open page, waiting to be written.

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Reaction Comments

Comment by trematik, on 21st December 2006

Whenever u hear de name nas.its makes u wanna bow down like givin respect 2 a king.a hiphop king.

Comment by Freeze, on 20th December 2006

Nas is one of the greatest mc's ever. I don't think niggaz understand so i'll say it again. Nas is one of the greatest mc's. You can't hate on a man for keepin it real. Niggaz think you say in a rhyme you sale drugs and you sale drugs thats real. But if you say you don't sale drugs and you don't you ain't real. Niggaz is confused these days. Don't hate on the nigga. His a real man

Comment by wmoton, on 17th December 2006


I feel nas niggaz need to get back 2 lyrical skillz and real street music

Comment by tupacliveson_20, on 5th December 2006

I like nas and if you think about it someways he's right and in someways the niggas wrong. Shit happens. Love you nas

Comment by jamie brown, on 29th November 2006

Fuck u nas, where the fuck is d.j. Premier. Call me nastradamus because its a wrap for your ass if you don,t kill this one. You are trying to cater to these savage ass niggas. They are not built to do what needs to be done out here. This ignorant ass hip hop is controlling our youths. You are not going to reeducate with that bullshit production team on this one. Energy is everything god. The frontline soulja's can't use this watered down flow. Trust me you will lose your core market with this one. I guess it's up to raekwon. I hope his third eye is open, because the essence has left you.

Comment by omolaw, on 9th November 2006

I love u nas

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