Review Summary: Four from four.
In my Kids See Ghosts
review, I used the analogy of a family; DAYTONA
is the hardcore older brother, Ye
is the soulful older sister, and KSG
is the younger sibling trying so desperately to be heard. So, with NASIR
, we have the beatdown father; a worried man trying to reinforce that the world is cruel and heartless. It even matches the listening party; speakers were set up at Queens in New York, open for all to come and enjoy the music. It didn’t feel introverted or exclusive. Rather, it felt enticing to the common person, and the album feels that way.
Loud and proud, Kanye steers Nas back in the direction of relevancy, if stumbling a little on the way through.
Though it doesn’t have the selling points previous Kanye albums do, NASIR
does enough to stand tall next to its predecessors. The album dips in and out of moods, beginning with the statement that is ‘Not For Radio’; Abe Lincoln did not free the enslaved/Progress was made ‘cause we forced the proclamation
and the chorus I think they scared of us
; before delving into the genuinely worrying ‘Cops Shot The Kid’. This simple phrase acts as the main beat, a low drum beat pumping in the back as Nas presents a topic all too concerning; White kids are brought in alive/Black kids get hit with like five
. Kanye’s footprint is all over the album, but his impact on this track breeds one of the best lines; Won’t be satisfied ‘til we all die/Tell me, who do we call to report crime/If 9-1-1 doin’ the driveby"
With three albums already showing the range of Kanye’s production quality, NASIR
feels like a more specific choice for his performer. Beats continually compliment Nas’ synonymous voice and flow with subtle piano on tracks like ‘Bonjour’ and ‘Adam and Eve’. Nas’ lyricism at times can feel too tongue-and-cheek; ‘Bonjour’ and She didn’t see me comin’, now she’s an eyewitness
comes to mind; but the reliability of Kanye as a producer still allows him to come off as both comedic and genuine. This can also be explained away with Kayne’s explanation of the tracklist of NASIR
all relating to the seven deadly sins. Some are more obvious than others; My pedigree above you ass, you’ll never see I/I love the past, but see, where I’m goin’ I get to fly
on ‘Simple Things’ relating to pride; but the overarching theme does tend to enhance the listening experience but also get lost in translation. It’s easy to listen to NASIR
without the context, particularly when tracks like the aforementioned ‘Cops Shot The Kid’ are so obvious in their presentation. But it doesn’t detract from NASIR
to feel like a missed opportunity. Rather, it’s there for those who are willing to delve a little deeper, but what’s on the surface is enough to allow the album to excel as a Nas album.
So, as the father figure that is NASIR
comes and goes, with closer ‘Simple Things’ presenting just that; I just want my kids to have the same peace I’m blessed with
; it perhaps doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor Kanye’s previous releases so obviously presented. However, that’s what makes it more intriguing; it’s a Kanye-produced Nas album in 2018. No off-the-cuff musical direction, no over-the-top moments, just a straight forward, highly intriguing album that touches on several subjects whilst maintaining an obvious direction. Nas is given the canvas to let his flow control the album, and his decades of experience shine through, resulting in an album that satisfies the Nas/Kanye itch.
Four from four.
Recommended Tracks: Not For Radio, Cops Shot The Kid, Simple Things