Nas’ latest album Nasir is out today and unfortunately it’s a disappointment. This LP is not only short, it’s also mediocre, almost sounding like it was created in the space of a few hours with some left-over production from Kanye West. The overall feeling is underwhelming to say the least, and with Nas’ strangely tame and stagnant flow, you wonder why this turd wasn’t polished a little more before it was flushed out into the world.
Before it was finally released on Mass Appeal Records, it was reported that Nasir would be part of the recent GOOD Music release schedule. After hearing the other offerings from GOOD including the shite Ye however, you may think to yourself is Kanye’s GOOD Music putting out any good music? This has to be the most ironic label name in Hip-Hop history. With Kanye handling all the production on this LP, I guess it doesn’t really matter whether Nas’ album is distributed by another label, this is a GOOD Music album in spirit; roping in a decent rapper to lay some verses over bargain-basement beats.
With Kanye churning out albums like a musical Mr. Brainwash without the added element of satire, it makes you wonder who is buying these pieces of aural excrement. The recent slew of Kanye West-produced LPs are not only vanity projects for Kanye, they seem like a distraction from his recent slavery comments and MAGA hat-wearing bullshit. Unfortunately for West, with such mediocre albums, these LPs do nothing but highlight what a sellout hack he is (and always was).
Back to Nasir itself, this album is a huge let down if you’re a Nas fan. The first track starts with the line “Escobar season begins” but despite this lyric (and song) trying to sound like “Hate Me Now”, it sports a basic flow. Although the production is decent enough, when it comes to the chorus, the music suddenly changes, snare drums interrupt the song and a terrible autotuned mess follows… “I think they’re scared of us!”. Alongside the echoing, angelic sounds (which sound okay until the interruption) there’s the dumbed-down flow from Nas, therefore this track falls short of being a memorable opener.
With Nas talking some nonsense about “Fox News was created by a black dude” you think to yourself, wasn’t Fox News founded by Rupert Murdoch and wasn’t Roger Ailes their CEO (both white)? When Nas raps about “Columbians created crack” you then think didn’t the CIA and FBI send cocaine to the US and clear the routes to create an epidemic in black neighbourhoods? It almost sounds like Nas is apologising to the white establishment in parts of this confused track. Hey, that Kanye “slavery was a choice” shit might be catching.
In terms of production, the first two songs (“Not For Radio” and “Cops Shot The Kid” – the best songs on the LP) at least contain beats and samples that make you want to listen but the rest of Nasir is a complete and utter mess. “I’m Gonna Have To Leave You” is a production-shambles, overwhelming the rapping in places; the vocals in the background, the chopped-up melody sample, it all jars, and with just one verse, the song then fades into nothingness. “Bonjour” contains almost the same sample as the song it follows, and there’s some crap R’N’B on there too. There’s more of the same in “Everything” which is heaving with lame singing and self-satisfaction, the production in “Adam And Eve” sounds like Firm-Era Nas (but with the addition of a crap hook) and in “Simple Things” there’s a simple boom boom clap beat with a mid-noughties-sounding sample. “Simple Things” also contains a basic and repetitive chorus, this is not how you end an album. Basically, there’s nothing new, nothing interesting, and nothing ground-breaking on this LP.
On the lyric-side of things, Nas raps “when the media flings mud we use it to build huts” (in the song “Everything”) and not only is that strangely offensive and derogatory, it doesn’t work as an effective metaphor for the relationship between the multi-ethnic public and the media. There’s also the nonsensical line “I could sell Alaska to Russia” which seems to be there just because it rhymes. In fact most of the time Nas comes off as lazy, high or tired, sure there’s quick mentions of Kemet and the “back of the bus”, but alongside quick anti-immunisation lyrics there’s mentions of polenta and investing money. Safe to say that this isn’t the Nas you knew from Illmatic.
I’m always calling to attention how unappealing contemporary rappers and their albums are, but I think it’s also important to highlight when a Golden Era legend makes mediocre music. As a Nas album therefore, Nasir is a definite disappointment with the MC sounding either hackneyed, confused, dumbed-down, bored, or all of the above throughout the LP. After a couple of listens you wonder to yourself is this the same Nas who made “The World Is Yours” and “Ether”? Goddamn, how the mighty have fallen.
At approximately 25 minutes long, Nasir is essentially an EP containing mixtape-level music. Taking into account the shitty, lacklustre production from Kanye West, the overall badly-constructed and out-of-style vibe, the mediocre delivery and flow from Nas, not to mention a shit album cover (not as bad as Ye I guess) this is a huge pile of unsatisfactory, uninspired, uninteresting trash.
You Can Hate Him Now.