Release Date: Jul 15, 2008
Record label: Def Jam
P.O.S. :: Chill, dummyDoomtree RecordsAuthor: Patrick TaylorI've been a fan of Stefon "P.O.S." Alexander since his debut nearly 10 years ago. On "Audition" and 2009's "Never Better," he proved himself to be one of the few artists who could successfully meld punk rock and hip-hop. Fellow Minnesotans ….
Nas uses the "N" word as a mere jumping-off point for his self-titled album, its initial title and final content even more closely related than the title and content of Hip Hop Is Dead. It's his most purposeful album; nearly every verse goes beyond talking trash and recalling exploits to address the change of title, the "N" word, race relations, stereotypes, the long arms and legs of Fox, love for his people and country, and the United States from slave ships through the possibility of a black president. It carries a stern lyrical focus all the way through, including the radio-aimed/Polow-produced anthem "Hero" ("If Nas can't say it, think about these talented kids with new ideas being told what they can and can't spit"), the gleaming "Make the World Go Round" (where a proud Nas, clearly reaching out to a younger crowd, refers to the featured Chris Brown as "the young Mike Jackson"), and the appropriately greasy "Fried Chicken" (a cunning track in which Nas and Busta Rhymes seem to embrace and parody dietary and sexual stereotypes at once).
Nas doesn’t use Auto-Tune to sing like a drunken robot on Untitled, his ninth album. Nor has he spawned a YouTube dance craze. There are no glitzy Kanye West beats, and unlike West, nowhere does Nas refer to critics as ”squid brains.” Indeed, connecting with the mainstream has been a bugaboo for the Queens native, burdened as he’s been with the hopes of rap purists ever since his transcendent 1994 debut, Illmatic.
Whatever provocative plans Nas had for the title of his latest album, he ultimately chose the route of least chain-store resistance and left it untitled. However, there’s no shortage of potentially controversial material here, above and beyond frequent use of the n-word. Throughout, Nas seems determined to stir up controversy. He’s quick to call out Bill O’Reilly and Fox News, Marilyn Monroe and Fidel Castro, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton in ways that will turn heads, but he consistently falls short on the follow-through.
Review Summary: Great rapping, awful beats.Before we even get to discussing the music contained on Untitled, let's have a pause to congratulate Nas. This is the man's ninth album, and he's been one of the most consistent, persistent topics of discussion in the music press for the past year, both for the Bill O'Rielly feud over the Virginia Tech concert and, of course, for the infamous decision to name this album Nigger. Be cynical if you like - accuse him of seeking publicity and playing the media, by all means - but the fact remains that for a rapper to still be hot property on his ninth album is a staggering achievement, regardless of how it was achieved.
Now that Nas (he wanted this successor to Hip Hop is Dead to be called 'Nigger') has wrung the last drop of controversy from the album title, the onus is on the New Yorker to find the words to outweigh the shock tactics. As ever, this most eloquent of rappers is stronger on zingers than philosophical coherence. But his dismal taste in beats strands his poetry in a sea of mediocrity.
Hip-hop godfather brings controversy, stumbles with mixed message After pronouncing an entire genre dead, the progenitor of New York hip-hop turned his eye to a broader horizon: race relations. To that end, Nas originally intended to name Untitled an unprintable epithet, and though the moniker has changed, the album it represents is still blazingly incendiary. Untitled’s tracks brim with expert production (notably, Polow da Don, Jay Electronica and stic.man) and Nas’ poetic wizardry, a testament to the struggle of tackling an issue this complex.