Although Nasir Jones is still among the best MC’s ever to have lived, Hip Hop Is Dead had me scared. It was that much glossier than nearly any of Nas’s former releases; and its major point of excitement was the controversy that brought the album’s concept: the belief that culture and life of hip hop has, in fact, died. This brought upon the heavily heated debate between rappers, and even more, upon those not even aspiring for hip hop, wondering about the modern world, thinking about whether or not our whole culture and way of life is dead. Either way, it worked towards the veteran rapper’s benefit, and sold platinum in an era where platinum records are rare. Nasir Jones went from this topic to something more explosive, and ultimately, something that matters more to the major public: discrimination of blacks. From there, he recorded the album Untitled, an album of questions, answers, and truths about our questionable system of government and discrimination of not just blacks, but all kinds of people. Untitled is a diverse and brilliantly executed political record, setting itself apart from most hip hop, and even most of Nas’s discography.
Say what you will about Nas, but this remains true: he’s a damn good MC. His lyrics on Untitled are more inspired than anything Nas has done with the exception of the majority of It was Written, and of course Illmatic. He seems like he’s really trying to get his message out to the people, telling people how he feels about politics and other such ideals. He starts off the album more of the his regular New York hustling with a little mainstream flavor, particularly on “Make the World Go Round”, a wonderfully pop rap song about going from the rags to the riches, while indulging mostly on the riches. After “America”, though, the tracks take much more of a political look at things. Throughout this two-thirds of the album, Nas gets at media (“Sly Fox”), realities of life (“N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and The Master)”), and gets up and front with his curiosity and support for Barack Obama (“Black President”). Untitled is wonderfully lop-sided, and maybe better so, giving the album much diversity, with the album ranging from thought provoking metaphor-crusted poltical songs to catchy, hooky pop rap songs.
Nas’ lyrical performance is awesome, and while the beats don’t match up entirely, they’re else well-built and fitting for the album. “Make The World Go Round” contains a bouncy bass line that creates an excellent backdrop for snaps and 80s poppy synths, making for a superbly pop rap song, while “N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and The Master” contains a grandioso violin line and a jazz-influenced bass line. This isn’t the best of the batch though, that would belong to “Black President”, with a galloping marching beat and drab, low pitched synth with a bounce. Among the highlights on the album include the paranoia-inspired rap rockisms of “Sly Fox”, back-in-the-good-old-days jazz of “You Can’t Stop Us Now”, and the funk-inspired synths of “Y’all My Niggas”. Even with these numerous highlights, there are lowlights, like the high pitched keyboard annoyingly pop of “Hero”, or the droneing keyboard-drawn strings of “America”, and who can forget “We’re Not Alone”, whose beat is unusually similar to that of “America”, droneing and over long, but with an additional layer of piano that makes it listenable, but not enjoyable. But admittedly, Untitled isn’t the most enjoyable Nas album, in fact, most of it is probably some of Nas’s least accessible stuff, but the fact is it truly gets in tack with Nas’s heart and beliefs makes Untitled one of the better hip hop albums of the year.
|other reviews of this album|
I respectfully disagree with Nick Butler on this one, and finally got to the review.
Album Rating: 3.5
Hip-Hop is Dead was way better than this.
I say Illmatic was way better.
Album Rating: 3.5
Well, yeah, but that goes without saying.
Album Rating: 4.0
awesome review i agree more with this one.
ive actually only heard this one and hip hop is dead from him. i really need to check out Illmatic.
and "make the world go round" is one of the most underrated pop songs this year. like idk with that infectious chorus i figured it could have been a bigger hit.This Message Edited On 12.27.08
Album Rating: 3.0
if you like this, you'll probably want to give Illmatic a 6/5. it's fine, but i'd prefer better beats. but most of you probably already knew i would say that... this was #20 of my top 20 hiphop of the year, but i removed it.
keep writing, i think you'll be a really awesome writer by the time you're a senior/ in college.
by the time you're a senior/ in college.wait a minute.. What?
if you like this, you'll probably want to give Illmatic a 6/5.I rate Illmatic a 5, but after hearing the "acclaimed" STILLmatic, I don't even wanna check this or Hip Hop Is Dead out.
BTW, I'm wondering why the cover art has always gone worse and worse after the brilliant Illmatic. This Message Edited On 12.27.08
I still remember all the controversy around the title of this album.
This album was pretty crappy. I only enjoyed maybe four tracks tops, but I liked this review nice job.
Hey look , you got a troll neg! Merry Christmas.
Good review, not worthy of a neg, so I pos'd.This Message Edited On 12.27.08
relax i'm a big boy, i can handle it
*crys in the garage*
Maxy, you forgot to do a summary.
Good review. That long last paragraph could have been split up into 3 (highlights, lowlights & conclusion), but overall, you get your points across well as per usual.
Album Rating: 4.0
Queens Get The Money really is the truth about 50.
This album is awful, boring, and uh... bad.
Boring? Yes. Bad? No.
this has grown off me a bit, but i still don't think its boring.
Aight, it aint bad.. i love NaS and his shit but this was awful.