Nas is one of those rappers who constantly gets listed with the greats, and rightfully so. Between Illmatic and It Was Written he easily has two of the best rap albums of all time in his catalog. So when almost four years to the day after his Untitled album was released we finally got another offering from God’s Son there was an obvious hype, fueled by leaked tracks such as “Nasty” and “The Don”. It didn’t hurt that songs featuring Mary J. Blige and Rick Ross also had leaked, providing some hope for a quality release after weeks of laughing over the saddest album cover since Cole World. Knowing that this album would reflect the recent divorce between Nas and that ugly bitch the Neptunes used to waste beats on made me a little apprehensive about the whole project but I’m not one to let assumptions dictate opinions, so I checked the album and was halfway impressed.
See, the first 6 tracks are fire, plain and simple. “A Queens Story” is easily one of the most powerful and epic songs in Nas’ entire discography. “Accident Murderers” is another gem, complete with Rick Ross providing a solid guest appearance as he always does. And “Locomotive” was that classic NY sound we’ve come to expect and appreciate from an artist who still thinks it’s 1994 and Timberland boots and hoodies are the style. But to be honest, the rest of the album kind of dragged. Aside from “The Black Bond” (a bonus track at that), the remaining 12 songs were average at best. “Back When” was good but it actually felt a little too short, it needed another verse, and the less said about Oochie Wally Pt. 2 a.k.a. “Summer on Smash” a.k.a. Please Let Me Get A Mainstream Hit, the better. Naw fuck that, I need to address that. How the fuck are you 45 years old, supposedly this super lyrical rapper, and you rhyming about sundresses on girls and bottle popping? “Is it Black Girl Lost or Shorty Owe You For Ice”?
Enough about the album itself, here’s my real reason for writing this, what is up with Nas fans trying so hard to convince everyone (including themselves probably) that he’s still relevant and making good music? I get it, being a fan of a rapper who was once on top of the game and seeing him fall off, resurrect his career through a beef with a more legendary rapper, then fall off again has got to suck. Musically Nas hasn’t done shit worth mentioning since 2001 aside from a couple guest appearances, some Kanye production, and “Black Republican” which is only epic because it was the Jay/Nas collab we’d spent 10 years waiting for. From a double album disaster to trying to stay in the media with “controversial” album titles, Nas has been struggling for over a decade. “Made You Look” was the last true commercial success Nas experienced and since Nas was so clever in pointing out how “Eminem murdered you on your own shit”, well, Ludacris murdered you on your own shit. Yet his fans still go above and beyond to defend his music and act like he is in the same arena as his former rival, former boss, and the current part-owner of the Brooklyn Nets.
I’m all about listening to what you like, ignoring what you don’t, and not spending time bitching about other peoples’ opinions. The biggest problem with hip hop isn’t the music it’s the fans. Only in hip hop does disagreeing with someone mean you don’t know shit about rap. So right now, saying that I don’t particularly like the new Nas album means that 1) I’m a hater, and 2) I don’t know anything about good hip hop. Meanwhile, Nas fans are calling this “an instant classic”, “as good as Illmatic”, and whatever other crazy attention seeking comments they can think of just to try to prove that in 2012 anyone under the age of 25 gives a shit what Nas has to say. Were people doing this a few years ago when Rakim dropped an album that went quadruple tin? Has anyone done this with KRS-One’s last 59 records? What is it about Nas that makes his fans so desperate to convince people he’s still somebody to care about? Is it the obvious loss to Jay-Z? Look, think what you want, diss tracks or whatever, but Nas lost. Just like Canibus lost. Your diss track means nothing when the other artist goes on to be way more successful than you, and honestly, when Nas become an employee of Jay-Z, that’s when the battle really was settled.
So what is it with Nas fans? Why is there so much defense of this record, so much acclamation for an album that isn’t even a week old yet, so much insistence that this album is so great when it’s a lot of the same old boring Nas 90s-era rhymes mixed with a little bit of struggle and depression over his divorce? If you like it that’s fine, I have no problem with that. I like Flocka’s newest album, I’m sure many would disagree (but for the record if you didn’t listen to it you can’t say shit, I at least listened to Life is Good from start to finish before forming an opinion). But to tell anyone who doesn’t like this Nas record that they are wrong, or don’t know good hip hop, or are writing off one of the greatest of all time, or whatever other angry comments Esco supporters are making, comes off as desperate and pathetic. Like this man has fallen so far that his fans have to go above and beyond just to convince people he’s still making good music. Enjoy the album, say you enjoy the album, but save the extreme defenses of it, Nas has suffered enough that he doesn’t need his fans bringing him down more.