In 1994, Nas dropped his debut, Illmatic, and elevated hip-hop to another level. Since then, he represents the street lyricist, hood spokesman, and ghetto American Idol. Today, Nas drops a bold statement that Hip-hop is Dead and rappers that commercialized the game is responsible for killing her.
Now, at thirty-three, Nas has many roles to fill. As a hip-hop’s veteran, he’s speaking out for the legends of the game who were misrepresented. As a rapper’s MC, he’s accountable for “Carry on Tradition” and teaching the young heads the true meaning of hip-hop: the art form that comes from the gut, blood, and soul—not the papers. As a father, he’s praying that his daughter won’t grow wild like the Hilton sisters. That would kill him. As a grown, wise man, he’s not going back to the hood. You can take the man out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of him. At this point of his life, he’s rather be chilling than rhyming, which has always been Nas’s weakest spot. Even as a gifted storyteller, his tales turned stale. He spends more time reminiscing on hip-hop’s golden age than moving forward.
One of jazz finest drummers, Art Blakey, once said, “I’m gonna stay with the youngsters. When these get too old I’ll get some younger ones. Keeps the mind active.” That is what Nas needs—some young bloods to push his button. And we can witness it on The Game’s collaboration. Both Nas and Game rhyme like true “Hustlers” over Dr. Dre’s eerie arrangement, and Nas sounds hungrier than on most of the tracks where he seems forced to flow when he’s rather not. At the end of the day, hip-hop hasn’t died, just passed him by.