Is “Nasir” Overrated or Under-Appreciated?

How could you judge an album mad quick without listening to it a few times. My synopsis after a few repeated listens, I can honestly say that I like the album, but I’m not completely blown away by it. Still has to grow on me a little more. I guess you can say that I’m biased in a way cause Nas is one of my favorite rappers ever. Personally, I enjoy his music and I always look for the greatness within it rather than the flaws. Before I dive into this review, I’m going to say that I like 4 out of the 7 songs: “White Label”, “Simple Things”, “Bonjour” and “Adam and Eve”, which is more than half of the album. So you can say it’s very good, but not the Nas I expected after such a long hiatus. I’m still gonna continue to bump it though.

Since he dropped it, I’ve read every hip hop internet nerds’ post on what Nas should have done, what beats he could have picked, how he should have used the same producers from Illmatic, blah, blah, blah. Some of y’all have never been in a studio, picked beats, and wrote music before. And some of you have. But I respect him for taking a chance with Kanye, even though Ye, to put it bluntly, is an ass. It was a really big gamble for Nas to lend his brand to Kanye with all his craziness right now. I guess he just wanted to try something new.

It would have been crazy if Nas had some of the beats Kanye made earlier in his career. But unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Everybody wants Nas to recreate an album he made when he was a teenager. To some people, nothing he ever does will compare to that. But for me, Lost Tapes was his best. It has resonated with me. And those were supposed to be his outtakes. Imagine? SMH. As an artist, no matter how many years you’ve been in the game, you want to work with new people, explore new sounds, and ride a different wave. And Nasir is a reflection of that. It is fresh, but not his best. This album would be a great segue into his next album. I hope he doesn’t wait too long.

Nas’ beat choices haven’t always been the best after Illmatic, but he always had a way of elevating any beat he touched with his bars. Every one of those albums had a few gems, and then other good joints that were debatable. With this line off “Simple Things”, he addresses the mass media on this matter: “never sold a record for a beat, it’s my verses they purchase, without production I’m worthless, but I’m more than the surface…” which is one of my favorite joints on the album.

Anyway, you can’t deny the head bop on “Adam and Eve”. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Kanye used the same sample Bay Area’s The Architect used for a remix he did of “No Ideas Original” off of a mixtape called The Architect X Nasty Nas (Remixes). And then they also used the same album cover from The Architect & Nowaah the Flood‘s Trill Life Mathematik album. I guess he thought both were good ideas and hooked the sample up for Nas to really rhyme on instead of a remix under some older vocals. Do we forgive the slight biting or just dismiss it as a coincidence? That’s up to you. Nas’ short album is still better than a lot of people’s albums. But not better than Black Thought’s new EP with 9th WonderNas and Thought are both my top 2 emcees. That’s just my opinion.

Soooooo “Not for Radio” beat was cool, but wasn’t a good set off to me. I don’t know if he did this on purpose or was this Ye rubbing off on him. But slavery wasn’t a choice. So some lines like Willie Lynch being a myth is false. He was a notorious slave master that wrote books and gave speeches to other slave owners on how to keep blacks mentally and physically enslaved. The word “lynching” was named after him; years later black people still suffer from those tactics used by him. Edgar Hoover was not black, as far as I know. Maybe Nas did some deep ancestry search and found that he had great great black grand parents. I don’t know. LMAO! Fox Broadcasting Company was founded by Rupert Murdoch, so what black guy was Nas speaking of? I wanted him to elaborate on those lines a little more, but a quick fact check could prove those to be false, which made it hard for me to get into that song.

“Everything” was okay. I could do without the singing. And the beat was weak sauce. But once again, the bars are dope: “when the media slings mud, we use it to build huts, irrefutable facts, beautiful merciful blacks…” When you listen to the hook, you would think he would talk more about the things he wants to change sort of like what he did on “If I Ruled the World”. But then again, the hook does say “don’t think the same as everyone else“. Here’s a another standout lyric from the song, “go and write whatever blog messiness is never the god, do what’s necessary I’m never worried…” Everything is cool, but…

“Bonjour”, on the other hand, was dope as fuck. I love Nas’ slow flow on that. “She didn’t see me coming, now she’s an eyewitness…” LMAO! Simple and clever. “Cops Shot the Kid” has a dope Slick Rick sample. I loved the way they freaked it. But the beat is so-so, and lyrically I feel like it was missing that venom.

Okay. I’m going to conclude it with “White Label”. Dope beat. Dope lyrics like, “laying on the most expensive beds, still I’m loosing sleep…”  I just fuck with the way Nas drops his bars like, “what you love could kill you, like a heart physician who dies from a heart attack…” It’s safe to say he is still one of the best, whether he picks the best beats or not.

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