here’s some old writing i did as part of a music group (go ahead and laugh if you want) going through Nas’s discography there’s parts of this i look back and gawk at but i’m still pleased with it
i’ll be posting them hopefully on a week by week basis, but as of right now let’s start at the beginning looking on it this ones the lone anomaly cause i didn’t pick a song off of it :
I was having a discussion with somebody on here where we talked about Illmatic and how Nas’s later catalouge doesn’t match up, so for this i’m gonna highlight a song from each of his later albums that i think is as equal or at least deserving as just as much praise as his 10 track masterpiece.
We’ve all heard the praises sung about this album, 10 tracks, first album to get 5 mics in The Source although according to Byron Crawford’s ‘Nas Lost’ the only reason the album got that rating was because the then head of the magazine Jon Shecter got the album 8 months early and wouldn’t stop raving about it and practically lobbied it for a 5 mics rating(so kind of a ‘i believe in this guy so much there’s no way you could give him anything LESS’ situation.
It’s the rap album i think that’s been canonised as a ‘great work’ for so long it practically exists as it’s own entity transcending where it originally came from.
But in my opinion what gets forgotten is that the very fact that Nas doesn’t have any guests on the album besides AZ and that no song sticks to what was then archtypal rap tracks (the party track the posse cut etc etc) was a great deviation at the time hell the fact that the beats at at a slower BPM compared to alot of songs at the time was major change it’s a 10 track impressionistic diary, one that you can get intoxicated and lost into.
i guess what i’m trying to say is Illmatic is a classic yes but it’s a very specific kind of ‘classic’ album one that doesn’t exactly manifest in other rap albums and to hold it up as the be all end all tome isn’t exactly right.
not only that but in a way what i don’t think is highlighted with this album is as much as it embodies everything that was great about this specific time in rap it was as much a death knell for this particular sound and people who were involved in rap at the time.
By 1996 2Pac was dead in Las Vegas which was the biggest nail in the coffin for Death Row Records, Outkast would put out ‘ATLiens’ proving to the rap world and the world at large that ‘The south had something to say’ and Jay Z would’ve put out his first album ‘Reasonable Doubt’ an album that now is regarded as a fantastic debut and classic in it’s own right .
In some way i think Nas knew that something was changing and rather than trying to recapture that moment, he sought to move onward, looking back to never forget where he came from mind you but to experiment and try something anew, sure i think his career is associated with a specific kind of artistic failure but the fact that he still carries on even in spite of all his failures i find something really admirable about.
Consider this post the starting point at which we lead off.