Nas

Ask any rapper alive and they will tell you the same thing: controversy sells. The creation of...

Hip-Hop is Dead Album Review

Ask any rapper alive and they will tell you the same thing: controversy sells. The creation of a buzz worthy diss song, at just the right time, against a fellow artist can increase sales by leaps and bounds. The question however is if a buzz worthy album, full of material that depicts a fallen industry and its employees, will create controversy and move units… or just create controversy.

Although fellow label mate Young Jeezy might have an issue with the eighth album in Nas’ catalog, Hip-Hop Is Dead ranks among his best ever releases. Not as original as Illmatic, but just as calculated and with a similar lyrical genius he has known to masterfully produce.

As an artist who rarely relied in the past on outside accompaniment, Hip-Hop is Dead has a large cast of feature characters to join its leading man. Hard to find fault in the choice selections though, as only the best of the best join Nas. Wifey Kelis does nothing to distract listeners on the StarGate produced ‘Not Going Back,’ Snoop Dogg lays his characteristically smooth flow over the Scott Storch produced ‘Play On Playa,’ The Game reveals his knowledge of east-coast rap on the Dr. Dre produced ‘Hustlers,’ and Jay-Z exchanges verses with Nas on a most memorable ‘Black Republicans.’

Production stems for a wide array of popular industry vets including Kanye West and Salaam Remi. Although the most original and creative work comes from the trendy industry pick, Will.I.Am. Rave reviews from work on material for The Game and Common have catapulted Will.I.Am to the upper echelon of the beat crafting crop. The Black Eyed Peas front man offers three memorable tracks to the album with include an Eric B & Rakim sampled ‘Who Killed It?’ a Nat King Cole influenced ‘Can’t Forget About You,’ and a title-track that samples ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ by Iron Butterfly.

The definition behind Nas’ new album, Hip-Hop Is Dead, probably could have used a clear-cut definition to help shape its purpose. If the true meaning of death is “having lost life; no longer alive,” it is easy to understand the statement that is being made with Nas’ release. The problems being founded with this bold proclamation is that hip-hop, as a culture, is nowhere near flat lining.

Despite a decrease in record sales the industry is as popular as ever. Hip-Hop has benefited from its core of marketable icons and spawned its early success into film, television, clothing, jewelry, automobiles and many other lucrative endeavors. Albums might not go gold in their first week of sales, but there are added means of revenue in the current era. Ringtone sales, legal digital downloads and video streams allow artists to be everywhere all the time, instead of only making their impact felt from radio spins.

So, it is fair to say that Nas has a point. He simply failed to correctly title his album. What he meant to say is: Rap is Dead. Or after this release, was dead.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

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Posted 8 years ago

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