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What Went Wrong With… Nasir by Nas?

A review of Nas album Nasir by What Went Wrong Or Right With...?

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.

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28 replies »

  1. Honsestly Nas’s career is only going because of nostalgia like we should give him a free pass for eveything he makes thats whack just because he made Illmatic.

    • I agree. I remember that people were rightly critical of It Was Written all the way to Nastradamus but from Stillmatic onward, fans and the media have been in constant awe of Nas whether it’s deserved or not (in this case not).

  2. You’ve mentioned Nas as a top thirty of all time emcee in the past . I wouldn’t put him – even in his prime – anywhere close to the top 200 emcees of all time . He’s been a sell out since 1998 . The sad thing is that Nas has become a household name and guys who are much more talented like Kool G Rap , Chino XL , Canibus , Vinnie Paz , One Be Lo , Wise Intelligent , Ras Kass , Apathy , RA , Killah Priest , Brother Ali and K-Rino never did . Just like Eminem — Nas is one of the most overrated emcees of all time .

  3. Shut the hell up. The production is 7/7 but Nas does give us lackluster flows and lyrics throughout. It’s as almost he doesn’t care about rapping anymore. Blaming Kanye ain’t the move. Nas let us down on this album, dickhead

    • Don’t get all bent out of shape ’cause I’m criticising Kanye. The production maybe okay in like two songs but the rest is amateur night. If you can’t hear that, I guess it’s time to rock a M.A.G.A. hat and crawl up West’s arse like the brown-nose you are.

  4. if you’re offended by music more often than not its doing its job. the fact that a reviewer would declare music offensive in the first place makes me a bit more cynical of the reviewers ability to critique fairly. If an artist has to limit his lyrical content the boundaries of what is created gradually become more narrow and subsequently the less interesting the music becomes. being challenged is a part of life that allows the human race to evolve. embrace it, stop looking to be hurt by anything you don’t agree with. I am sure its not personal.

    • I think you’re missing the point. You’re focussing on the word “offensive” too much without actually taking into account what I wrote. I could for instance write “my ears were offended” by a piece of music and I might be referring not to the content but to the fact that the music is badly constructed. Being “offended” therefore isn’t always literal and being offensive isn’t always an aspect of being anti-mainstream.

      Of course being “offensive” or “anti-mainstream” is part of Hip-Hop, Rock, Metal, Grime etc. but being “strangely offensive and derogatory” (which is what I said) can be just a case of misjudged lyrics or in this case, living for too long in a predominantly white world. Nas is no longer a QB resident, for years he’s been surrounded by rich white liberals (think Get Out). So when he says that FOX News was created by a black man or brings in “Mud Huts” (a racist contrivance when it comes to black people) into his songs, this is not “offensive” in the anti-establishment sense but “offensive” in the sellout sense. You don’t bring in incorrect facts or racist cliches into Hip-Hop unless you’ve left the working class ghetto where you were born and began to hang around a bunch of white people (or rich minority sellouts) who tell you lies.

      Maybe re-read the review. A rapper can offend the public with their lyrical content like dead prez or N.W.A. (in their prime) or they can offend their fans by selling out like Kanye West and Nas. Being offensive isn’t automatically “music doing its job” and NASIR sure as shit isn’t breaking boundaries.

  5. I have to look at this stuff in the long run . Recently on his new YouTube channel K-Rino posted a video where he and other NOI members in Houston put on a free barbeque for people in a housing project in the city’s poorest area . An area where the police or EMS seldom want to venture .

    Nas became a millionaire in 1994 basically overnight . Now , I’m not saying that all emcees who have made money are sell outs . Tech N9ne , Z-Ro , Scar Face , Chuck D and Insane Clown Posse are all millionaires . But Nas seemed to relish in materialism and the jet setter lifestyle . That fundamentally changed who he was as a person . Some could say Nas gives back to the underground and Golden Era . He sent in verses for AZ and Fashawn within this decade . He did tracks with DJ Premier within this decade . In this decade he also did a track with Justin Bieber . So I guess that shows us where he is really at . Nas’s first album included I still think that he is hugely overrated . I can’t understand it . In the first half of the 90’s there were so many other emcees from the North Eastern United States that were as good or in many cases —– better .

  6. It’s possible that Scar Face and Z-Ro aren’t millionaires . That’s especially fucked up because Face has been in the rap game for over 35 years . Most likely corrupt execs , managers and lawyers took his money .

    Nas apparently has a net worth of over 50 million USD . With that kind of money he could afford top of the line armed security . He could go into the poor neighborhoods in New York City and New Jersey – places that he used rap about – and put on a barbecque and concert for thousands of people on his own dime . After all these years I have learned who the real artists are . You see K-Rino and ICP doing things like that on a monthly basis on their own dimes .

    Also I would like to say that Nas is an egotistical cunt for not appearing on the studio albums that Kool G Rap and MC Shan dropped last year . He should of phoned them up and demanded that he give them free production and studio time . Those two men literally broke their backs and risked their lives paving the way for Nasir . I’m sure though if Black Star were to reunite and drop a studio album or if the pederast cosigning KRS
    did some kind of prestige project he would be hitting them up right away . Nas is still salty that Kool G Rap embarrassed him badly on that track 24 years ago . It’s diva behaviour . Even Immortal Technique is acting like a diva these days .

  7. Lastly , I want to thank you for this blog . For promoting real hip hop and critical thinking ability . I checked to see what “genius” hip hop critic Clayton Purdom of The AV Club had to say about the Jackson Hole albums that Kanye has produced . (I guess the Teyana Taylor one comes out in a couple days) .

    All four projects – Pusha T , Kids See Ghosts , Kanye and now Nas – he praised unequivocally . It seems that if he gives any of these albums a bad review that he will lose his contract with The Onion Inc. . This is the same guy who said that he doesn’t need to give any reasons as to why ICP “sucks” in an article on horror core as an entire genre . In his horror core playlist he put Kendrick Lamar and 21 Savage . He didn’t put one ICP track on the playlist . He claimed the whole genre and art form of horror core “isn’t cool” .

    Hip hop critics are no longer reliable outside of this blog and The Misanthropik One’s YouTube channel . The reason being is that the paid professional “critics” ignore all underground , alternative and independent hip hop .

    It’s sad to see Nas end up where he has . Hanging around with Kanye like Kanye is his boss and meal ticket for being relevant .

    • Fuck, he put Kendrick and Savage in a Horrorcore playlist? That proves he either doesn’t know his shit or he’s employed as a mainstream culture-moulder (or both). It seems that all the online publications these days from HipHopDX, Pitchfork, Genius etc. are all there just to overrate certain aspects of music so to push agendas and styles to the forefront. The fucked-up thing is that the public have started to believe them, that’s why Kendrick’s DAMN. will be forever remembered as a “classic Hip-Hop album” or the “best album of 2017” because mass-overrating effects the buying public.

      And by the way, how can a 30-something man-child with a 5 O’clock shadow and zipped hoodie (the literal embodiment of mainstream, un-cool-ness) declare anything as not cool?
      Clayton Purdom

      Not to be superficial but how can this man say what is and isn’t in style? He looks like the end result of a hipster fucking boiled ham…
      Clayton Purdom

      People like this are telling the masses what to listen to and what to watch, that’s part of the reason mainstream music and film is so fucked up right now.

  8. Unrelated qn: What are your thoughts on De La Soul’s post-Stakes is High albums, as well as ATCQ’s post-Midnight Marauder albums? (Please be as detailed as you can)

    • I don’t know if you’ll ever get to them, so I figured now was the best time to ask 😅
      (I do like them though)

    • I’ll just say that if I ever got round to writing about A Tribe Called Quest it’d be in whatwentrightwith.com because they’re one of the most consistent groups around. To be honest that goes for most of the Native Tongues, although when it comes to De La Soul, I don’t like the stuff they made in the 2000s (to the present) it sounded too much like they were trying to fit into a genre that didn’t match with their initial/original sound.

  9. What went wrong with being original & creative?
    The photograph of children on the album cover was used by another artist. Nowaah The Flood x The Architect – Trill Life Mathematiks

    The samples on Adam & eve were also previously used by The Architect for a Nas remix project.
    The samples on Bonjour was also previously used on Planet Asia – Made It from .. Velour Portraits ep

    • Damn, and dickriders still think Kanye is some kind of musical genius.

      What’s worse is that under the original Iranian track on YouTube (where the sample comes from) the top comments are acting like it was Kanye who came up with sampling this song…

  10. Unpopular opinion: Your Old Droog is doing a far better job at imitating Nas peak career then Nas himself, and even has a greater potential for legendary mc due to the consistency of his albums.

    Also just about everything in Mr. Jones discography after Illmatic has been “meh”. Except for a few songs on his latter two albums.

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