The Hip Hop Mortuary

"I wax lyrics so poetic even the most narcoleptic skeptic feels awake and perceptive"

8:26 AM

Nas/ It Was Written

Posted by Guy Fawkes


After creating "Illmatic", which would take a while to reach it's now legendary status, Nasir Jones embarked on a campaign to change his image to a "mafioso rapper". The first step was to adopt the nickname Nas Escobar... after the infamous drug lord. The new image was created to appeal to the mainstream... where you had to be a gangster to sell gangster rap (still the same today). The new image was complemented with new producers whose name spelled success, (Dr.Dre for example) and with the new instrumentals Nasir created his best-selling album. So I guess you could say that he succeeded. Some argue that he sold out, and some argue that this is his second classic. Like always, the decision is yours:

The Good:

2. The Message- Maybe the best song ever made.

3. Street Dreams- The hook is terrible, but the lyricism is incomparable.

4. I Gave You Power- This song is legendary for good reason, the storytelling and metaphors were ahead of their times.

5. Watch Dem Niggas- This is a song that could easily fit on Illmatic, but to feed his image, Nas featured Foxy Brown on the hook. Still, you will find yourself involuntarily nodding to this track.

6. Take It In Blood- This song is astonishing, astounding, fantastic, incredible, marvelous, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious, stupendous, unbelievable, wonderful, wondrous and most importantly Illmatic (yeah the album is now a noun).

8. Affirmative Action- The pure brilliance of this song was probably the motivation to create the ill-advised group "The Firm" consisting of: Cormega, AZ, NaS, and Foxy Brown.

9. The Set Up- Another Firm cut that turns out pretty well.

10. Black Girl Lost- This is Nas' lyrical and heartfelt attempt at "I Can".

12. Shootouts- Different beat, different story, different hook, same sense of admiration.

13. Live Nigga Rap- If this was just a Mobb song, it would already be considered a classic, but it's obvious that Nas has an obligation to outshine Havoc and Prodigy.

14. If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)- This song shows Nas' evolution. He started as a ghetto poet but evolved into a hip hop legend that scorched tracks with social commentary... the 90's version of Public Enemy.

This is a perfect way to conclude: "The lyrics were there, but some of the emotion was gone. Maybe it was the world around Nas changing, or maybe it was changing in himself, but no one can listen to this after Illmatic and not see a change... If Illmatic was the kind of nightmare you can't wake up from and don't really want too, then IWW is a regular dream, not quite "real" but enjoyable all the same."- Joe Katz

As much as I agree with Mr. Katz quote, you will notice more storytelling, which constricts Nas from expanding lyrically like he did on Illmatic. And most importantly, the emotion isn't gone... the production is completely different, and at lots of times just doesn't work.

0-20: Terrible listening experience
21-40: Maybe one good song
41-60: A few good songs
61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak
81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great songs

I give this album a 89, there's no argument to it's "classic" status... but the one or two bad songs really detach from the listening experience. I would recommend a purchase... or at least a download:

Hip Hop that Don't Stop

4 comments:

Were Read 2 Def said...

This album is 1 of my fav albums.

Frantz said...

you're confusing nouns with adjectives. Jus sayin.

Anonymous said...

you also left out silent murder. but that was only on the cassette.

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