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Nas' controversial "Hip Hop Is Dead" release came out in 2006, and came at a time when he declared the 'death' of the genre, as he considered it's true origins to have been diluted to a point beyond recognition when compared to its form in the seventies and eighties. It was the New Yorker's eighth album to that point, and saw him make another big statement to change the way all music of that time was seen.
1. "Money Over Bulls**t"
To get things going on this album you have him dropping a dark one where he chooses to take on all of those who really disagree with the statement which he comes out with. Just as he had done with the last few albums prior to this, you get him taking on classic samples which have been extensive used in Hip Hop (especially in the eighties).
2. "You Can't Kill Me"
As his statement obviously means he is essentially killing off himself and many other people who he doesn't want to say fit in with this trend, he exempts himself from it with this one, and affirms it in the true Gangsta Rap way by setting a scene where people are there attempting to get him in a kind of Mafioso scene, but he obviously prevails in the scenario.
3. "Carry On Tradition"
On this one you find that on some fly beats from Scott Storch you have him speak on the residual respect which people have form the 'veterans' of the genre, and how the majority of those from 'back in the day' are just washed-up entertainers who are bound to complain about the direction of the music today, with musky they can't possibly relate to. It is a thought-provoking work form him, and shows that he understands how the game works, and he can't take sides on this issue with the older generation and those who are on the rise
4. "Where Are They Now"
Although not nearly as exciting as the remixes, this track has im ask where all the big names of the eighties and nineties have gone. In the later version he got to work with a few of the people who he lists here as he goes back into the history of Hip Hop and speaks on top of some funky James Brown samples, and how excited it made him as he heard all that he came up with.
5. "Hip Hop Is Dead"
The titular track here had a big impact at the time as it really represented what Nas meant by the statement and made people reconsider what they see 'real Hip Hop' to truly be, and whether they have actually encountered it recently form the act which performed then. He take son classic breaks such as "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and "Apache", it is a hardcore tune and is a perfect showing of what he wants Hip hop to be again.
6. "Who Killed It?" (Lude)
7. "Black Republican"
In what was a highly hyped recording, you have Jay-Z and Nas unite after years of battling over the crown as the 'King of New York'. Personally, I wouldn't have said that this particular track is all tha special, but to those who really got caught up in the issue when it was at its height in around 2001, this one finds them flowing to their best ability, just showing that such an event had to have them come with he most complex lyrics they could possibly come up with.
8. "Not Going Out"
Kelis, his wife comes to sing on this one with him and it seems to bring out the darker side of him as he decides that it is appropriate to turn things into a Gangsta Rap track on top of typically soft beats from Stargate. It has lots of sharp contrasts within it, and I found that it overcomplicated things here, and so the standard seems to stay as it was in the track prior to it.
9. "Still Dreaming"
On this one you get Kanye doing some fresh beats for this one, and even rapping on top of it too, and I found that it made for one of the biggest tunes on the thing, and although it seems to go completely off-topic when you compare it to where we came from with the earlier tracks on the record, the standard of what is done here is too good to simply dismiss as it isn't quite fitting in with expectations.
10. "Hold Down The Block"
Mark Batson is behind this one and as he hadn't worked with Nas before, I wasn't really sure what to expect from it, but as I saw it, he chose to really take the title of the collection into consideration as he constructed a tune which appears to et right down to the true, East Coast, head-bopping, underground stuff which made it such an exciting time in music.
11. "Blunt Ashes"
This one has him choosing to take things back to their roots as he chooses to explain how much of the urban music scene has been constructed on straight-forward inspirations from one artists passed down to another, all making for class acts which have defined it, and here he questions whether he fits this too, or whether he still needs to more to reach this stage.
12. "Let There Be Light"
Kanye West is one of a few who come together to provide the production of the track as you get Nas getting deep as he chooses to take a short break from his concept and deal with something which approaches much boarder issues, in a way which seems to take it back to the 'message raps' of the eighties.
13. "Play On Playa"
With Long Beach's Snoop Dogg on his side, you have a banger of a track here as Scott Storch chooses to show how he can drop the West Coast-styled beats just as good as anyone else. This is a big track for the collaboration and the overall quality of things which you find with it as you have a rare teaming of some of the best in the industry.
14. "Can't Forget About You"
This was one of the singles from the album and so it immediately stands out as Nas does things in a way which allows him to appeal to a mainstream crowd, and away from the underground stuff which only the purist can get down to. You have more beats from Black Eyed Peas will.i.am here, and it makes sure that we stay grounded as Nas flows about highlights in his life.
Coming directly off a big collaboration from his second album, Nas and The Game team up once again on this one, a track which I would have to consider their best time where the two hooked up and did things together. Not only do you find this but you also get Dre doing the beats, and together it makes for one of the biggest tunes to show that there is still life in Hip Hop.
16. "Hope" (Outro)
Although it suffers from being inconsistent at times, this one finds that Nas explores the statement, and is able to really show that we have perhaps gone too far in such a short period of time and it could be drawing towards a time where the excessive diversification will mean that Hip Hop does just fall apart.
Wow, what can i say. A true player's cd. Tunes to bounce to, tunes to cruise to. If hip hop was dead it's certainly come alive now. Nas carries true talent and with these 16 tracks he truly enlightens the urban music scene. Unlike many albums, this can be played as backin music to a spring clean or a long journey, or it can be the centre spotlight music at a party or special occasion. I also found that with Nas, he carries the hip hop gangster lifestyle but doesn;t promote guns and extreme violence like most of today's rappers do.
I had to write a review on this album after looking at the other two reviews as it is clear they have not got much experience of hip hop and the art form that it is and that greatness of nas and how this album rates among his others. I AM ONE OF NAS' BIGGEST FANS and i love illmatic it was written, stillmatic, god's son, and this, 'hip hop is dead' is probably one of his weakest lyrically.
YES nas has matured bla blah blah and he cant write about the same vivid descriptive hood stories we're used to and this is good in a way except for the fact that now what he has to describe, things such as his life the political situation in america and the state of hip hop, he cant do with nearly as much wit lyrical genius and concept that he did before. Though this album is better than the like of nastradamus street disciple and possibly i am (though of the strength of 'nas is like' alone kills many other albums), it is still a weak effort for nas as he set the bar probably the highest anyone has ever set it with his debut
illmatic and perhaps the quality was so great because he took 2 years to finish but anyway......
However nas' ear for beats has FINALLY got better on this album with will.i.am, kanye and scott storch producing and doing so well (though still doesnt compare to the premo, large proffesor and pete rock day) because lord KNOWS nas has picked some terrible beats to go with his dope rhymes in previous years.
Money over bullshit - this is one of the tracks i liked, its got a dark sounding basline beat, gives the kinda feel like nas is grabbing hip hop by the arm and pulling it off the edge of the cliff as he speak, with every rhyme aiding in bringing it back, he comes hard on this track talkin about various things such as hip hop being dead asking us to 'join me in war',his life as it isnow, and sellouts among other things.
You can't kill me - pretty average track that i neither hae or love, for any other artist this would be great story telling though for nas this is pretty normal, and the hook (chorus) isn't that great and to be honest the title and theme of the track really doesn't suit or represent nas' personality 'you can't kill me'
Carry on tradition - ahhhh now this is a good song, nas basically talks about carrying on tradition of the pioneers of hip hop and how people in the industry today are not carrying on this tradition, again its got one of those 'i'm back and here to sort this sh@* out ' sounding kinda beats.
Where are they now - speaks of old skool artists and where they could possibly be now he talks about alotta hood famous artists on this track and the people he group up listening to that influenced him into writing rhymes, it used a james brown sample which is pretty cool 'hit me', this track suggests that we, the hip hop community, have left these great old skool legends disintegrate into the background without paying proper respect.
Hip hop is dead - one of the best beats on the lp and nas spits at a faster pace on this track and it is easy to see why it had considerable commercial success, it even manages to slip the classic break beat (for breakdancers) in there, i'll let you see if you notice it. The lyrics are fire and this is the track that produced the most backlash and tracks such as 'hip hop lives' and 'hip hop police' and i will explain at the end of the review the effec of this track and the labum as a whole'
Who killed it - you know how some rappers are also very very funny and can pull of stupid voices and foolin around on skit tracks like redman, method man, odb, well nas ISN'T one of those typa rappers LOL oh dear god he sould have stayed away from this one but still its not that hard to press the skip button, what he's sayin is cool if you can get past the annoyin stupid funny (because its not funny) accent/voice he puts on'
Black republican - as a hip hop head this is a stand out track for me, they (jay and nas) both bring the fire on this track, with the beat being similar to some kinda of music the russians would have played when starlin was in power, a military power kinda song, and thats why i love it coz its saying we are the best right now we are on top we own this shit.
Not going back - one of my least favourite tracks, because i dont like the disfunctional type of beat, kelis' background vocals are good although think nas' lyrics are a bit all over the place although i do like when he lists all the things he's not going back to in one sentence.
Still dreaming - a kanye produced track, so you know its gonna be hot, and chrisette michele vocals in the background are as per usual with her GREAT (check her album) she is the next big thing. Though when nas begins spittin it can quickly become a background music type of track and the concept of the track is a little un-clear but worth listening to for the beat and chrisette.
Hold down the block - nice vocals in the background, and if nas were 20 again i could take this like dang, this is how this kid feels right now, as he describes whats going through his mind and what he about to do, though nas is in his 30's so i can't do that though it is nice to hear nas talk about how he felt back then (lol i hope he doesnt mean how he feels now coz dude living in a mansion)
Blunt ashes - one of the hottes and darkest beats on the album especially when it kicks in at the chorus, though i am not really feeling the song as a whole beacuse i dont really care for the topic 'did i keep it gangsta', and he talks about other gangsters and their lives.
Let there be light - this is one of those 'we're gonna make it through the struggles' type beats similar to nick cannons 'can i live' type of beat and yes this is a decent track with anthony hamilton's vocals, nastalks about types of people from QB and how they should get out of that life, also of his own hollywood type story, futhermore he talks of those from QB (his neighbourhood) who envy him and name him as sellout
Play on playa - dont really feel this track i don't like the beat i mean c'mon this is the lyrical genius nas and you know its not like him to be talkin about 'playa's' so you know when a track is named 'play on playa' its not going to be nas at his best mainly because what his he supposed to talk about on this subject, and that no surprise that it is a weak track as it features snoop dogg one of the weakest on album rappers in history with his only decent album being doggystyle, lets face it, someone who has to make up their own vocabulary and gimmicky songs to sell isn't that great.
Can't forget about you - good song, good video for it too, nas talks of how he has matured his past experience in the game including raps great achievments (first grammy etc.) and what he will do when he retired, this track helped open the world to chrisette michelle who's vocals on this track are REAL CLEAR she has that old skool 50's kinda sounding voice on this track, dope all round track.
Hustlers - this song is average the beat sounds like something from the london grime scene, game spits some nice history about how he first listened to nas and new york music, nas is verse is average ..................for nas!!!
Hope - Nas goes accapella, and you know when you go acapella you gotta go hard coz you aint got nothing to back you up or save your verse and the song from being totally wack, though i think his verse here is ok it tells the story of how hip hop will never die and things nas did as a youth indulged in the hip hop lifestyle, though the track is decent its not lyricsm at its greatest which is what you expect every time you pop a nas disk in the deck. Though he makes a statement that need to be made at the end of his verse, ha ha you'll have to cop it to find out what it is.
So you'll probably be wondering if you read this whole review well at the start he said he didnt like it that much, but he said that pretty much all the track are decent , so whats the deal, well the tracks are decent for any other rapper, but for nas some of these tracks are very average and even skippable as i anticipated so much for this album and it only partly lived up to the hype. THOUGH this is an important album for hip hop right now because people might be sayin blah blah nas is just ranting on that hip hop has died and he's moaning sayin how much better it used to be, but what they dont realise is that by titling his album this way and giving most of the racks this concept he has made them raise their game because they wanna react and form a backlash to this by saying 'no hip hop is not dead' so alotta rappers don't realise nas has made them raise their game with the help especially of the track 'hip hop is dead' as i mentioned earlier i would explain why this is so important.....so there you go, as the other reviewers were so hyped up calling it such a great album i just had to bring oyu all back down to the ground and let you know this is not nas' greatest album by far BUT it is a decent lp and an important one so i would reccoment copin.
my nas list (not including mixtapes but i will include the demo tape ha ha) :
2.)it was written
3.)pre-illmatic demo tape
5.)hip hop is dead
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Money Over Bullsh*t
2 You Can't Kill Me
3 Carry on Tradition
4 Where Are They Now
5 Hip Hop Is Dead - Nas, will.i.am,
6 Who Killed It?
7 Black Republican - Jay-Z, , Nas
8 Not Going Back - Kelis, Nas
9 Still Dreaming - Chrisette Michele, Chrisette Michele, Nas, Kanye West
10 Hold Down the Block
11 Blunt Ashes
12 Let There Be Light - Nas, Tre Williams
13 Play on Playa - Nas, Snoop Dogg
14 Can't Forget About You - Chrisette Michele, Nas
15 Hustlers - Marsha Ambrosius, , The Game, Nas