Album Review: Nas – Untitled

22 07 2008

Disclaimer: This is my first ever album review. Don’t consider this a warning, consider it an accomplisment.

Nas – Untitled

4.5/5

It’s been 14 years since Queens Bridge MC Nas debuted with the classic album, Illmatic. Since 94′, Nas has been one of hip hop’s most original and prolific artists touching various subjects and kicking pure knowledge. Esco is back with his follow up to his last album Hip Hop Is Dead. While the title caused a raucous in the hip hop community and exposed the insecurity of artists’ music (unintentionally), Nas came with an even more controversial title, Nigger. Once the title was released to the public, controversy emerged in no time. Fellow music artists like Jay-z, Akon, and Alicia Keys supported the album titles message, but others like the NAACP opposed it. Eventually, the album title had to be changed in order to be released. Fans (including myself) were displeased with the album’s title removal, but we all know what the original title is.

On the albums lead single “Hero”, Nas raps “So untitled it is, I never change nothin’/ But people remember this/If Nas can’t say it, think about these talented kids/With new ideas being told what they can and can’t spit”

The album starts off with Nas going in over a sampled piano instrumental produced by newcomer rapper and producer Jay Electronica. The laid-back instrumental and abrasive delivery set the tone of the album. Nas even takes shots at 50 Cent when he drops lines like “Take 27 emcee’s put them in a line and they’re out of alignment/my assignment since he said retirement
hiding behind 8 Mile and The Chronic/Gets rich but dies rhyming/…Now add 23 more from Queens to B-more/I’m over their heads, like a bulimic on a seesaw/Now that’s 50 porch monkeys ate up at the same time”

At a time where mainstream hip hop mainly consists of rapping about materialism, sex, and drug trafficking; Nas took a completely different direction with his latest effort. Nas collaborated with R&B singer Chris Brown and The Game on “Make the World Go Round” which has the most mainstream appeal out of all the songs on the album. The rest of the albums content is discussing black stereotypes (N.I.G.G.E.R., Yall My Niggas), historical racism (You Can’t Stop Us Now), and politics (America, Black President). One of the standout tracks, “Sly Fox”, Nas exposes Fox and CBS’ propaganda and the lack of support for the hip hop community. Nas also has words for hip hop’s biggest supporter Bill O’Reilly (sarcasms) for attempting to remove Nas from a free concert for Virginia Tech. Another standout track on the album is “Fried Chicken” featuring Busta Rhymes. Nas and Busta rap over a smooth instrumental produced by UK producer Mark Ronson, about Fried Chicken.

The album ends with “Black President”, an ode to the presidential candidate Barack Obama. Nas discusses the possibilities and outcome of Barack’s potential victory this November. It features a sample from 2pac’s “I wonder if Heaven’s Got Ghetto” that states “and though it seems heaven-sent, we ain’t ready to have a black President”

In conclusion, this album is a superb effort by Nas. He’s definitely proved that he is at the status where he doesn’t have to strive for mainstream appeal, and he can make music from his point of view, projecting his opinion about society. Hip Hop needs albums like this at this day and age.

To sum it up in one word: Powerful.

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