I'm sure some have you have noticed my absence over the past week and a half or so. I apologize for this. I've been settling back into school and a heavier course load. In light of my schedule this semester I'm going to have to decrease the amount of posts. Thus, the new format on the blog: (about) two posts a day, one giving shine to an older song and the other featuring a new song/artist/mixtape.
This song is the first track after the intro on Nasir Jones' sophomore album, It Was Written. It features lyricism to his classic and represents a style that has become synonomous with the style of his better post-Illmatic songs (aka brilliant lyricism backed by self-samples). The track showcases a sample of Stings' "Shape of My Heart," scratches by Kid Capri, and a subliminal diss towards Biggie (There's only one life, one love/ so there can only be one King).
Never has it been easier to pinpoint the exact time at which an artist sold out. For all the brilliance of "The Message," the next track on the album, "Street Dreams" is equally horrendous. Immediately you know something is wrong when you hear the sample Eurythmics' "Street Dreams" and Nas "singing" "street dreams are made of these." For all his talents, Nasir Jones can not sing to save his life. It's not his fault, he's a rapper, not a singer. It's the hip hop equivalent of when Michael Jordan tried to play baseball and represents a clear attempt to move away Nas' gritty, raw Illmatic sound towards the mainstream.
Although the rest of the album is solid lyrically (and contains some of my favorite Nas songs), I just can't listen to the album from start to finish. "Street Dreams" being front loaded on the album ruins it for me. It also represents the beginning of Nas' decline to irrelevant, subpar raps until his feud with Jay-Z (aside from a few songs such as "Nas Is Like"). Jay's diss of Nasty Nas on "Takeover" brought Nas back from the depths, allowing him to respond with "Ether" and set his career back on track. As a bonus I've included two tracks off of Nas' upcoming album with Damian Marley, Distant Relatives (dropping 4-20).
Peace, Love, & Hip Hop,
Damian Marley & Nas - "As We Enter"
Damian Marley & Nas - "Strong Will Continue"