Why Some Kids Have A Hard Time with Nas
This is not a hit piece or oppositional take. None of what I am going to write after this calls into question the lyrical skill or historical importance of Nas. Last week we finally got The Lost Tapes 2, the sequel to one of the best collections of bonus stuff ever. It is not great but part of that is how Nas has changed so much over the years. When someone says they don’t like Nas old heads will get mad and act like Illmatic is being called into question. The kid that made Illmatic and It Was Written is NOWHERE to be found on The Lost Tapes 2. Make no mistake, a few key things have changed.
I understand people on all ends of the spousal abuse allegations. Some people dismissed them outright some dismissed Nas outright believing Kelis. I try not to think too hard about them because it is very difficult to know what went on inside a relationship. The balance between a couples privacy and not supporting a terrible person can be impossibly hard from too far a distance. You don’t have to factor those in at all to be unhappy with this current version of Nas and his sexual politics.
When Nas made a song because his daughter instagrammed a box of condoms (Daughters) I didn’t like it but it was fine. Dad feelings are not rational or consistent and the song does a pretty good job elaborating on that. I wish the sexual shaming of women was just Dad stuff but it is not. The hook on Royalty off LT2 starts “Whatever you do, young king, don’t wind up dead/Young queen, cross your legs.” That is his intellectual message to women in a nutshell. Stop having sex if you want to be valuable. That’s a rough start but it gets worse. On Vernon Family (LT2) it gets WEIRD!
“Ejaculatory depression after sex
And that mean after I nut, don’t touch me, no questions
Unless she’s a restless spirit, then I can heal it
Spend a lot of time together, I know her feelings
But you fightin’ what the essence of a woman is
I respect you, my love’s limitless
But what are you becoming?
You wanna be the man or the woman?”
Questions: 1. YO YO YO shouldn’t you focus on your ejaculatory depression and get therapy for that. 2. How are you healing her when you have ejaculatory depression!! 3. Why can’t she decide what “the essence of a woman is” ? 4. What did she do to have her gender role questioned?
If you’re a 20 year old listening to this dude for the first time you have to be thinking this is an old creep with gender issues. Why doesn’t he want young women to have sex and be happy? What is wrong with having a restless spirit? While he is telling his “Queens” to not have sex he is a tech billionaire just getting out of a relationship with Nicki Minaj, coming out of a very messy divorce. So why am I hearing this dudes sex songs out? Skip it.
If we are honest with ourselves, Nas tone has changed. People like Raekwon can make a legendary career in the artform and their tone never changes. Nas is more like Common or Kweli and his flow can be insulting at times. He sounds like the guy who read the book and is very sure you didn’t. He needs to explain it to you but he never breaks down anything all that deep. Look at track 9 (War Against Love) off LT2.
“Scientists told us how the Mayans lived
Highways and landing strips for planes to land
Before the Wright Brothers’ plan, aerodynamics
Now I’m chillin’ twenty karats like a savage, not embarrassed
Buy what I’m coppin’ while I’m shoppin’ out in Paris
Parasites try to steal the culture
While chemtrails and satellites hover over”
Questions: 1. What the F*&% does your twenty karat purchase have to do with the Mayans or the Wright Brothers? 2. Any reason to talk about parasites stealing the culture right then other than it rhymes with Paris? 3. How do Chemtrails relate to any of this? Nas isn’t going to give you an album where he talks about the Mayans in depth. He knows about Chemtrails and satellites but just like aerodynamics he’s never going to give us enough detail to know how much he knows. If you were at a party and a dude came up to you talking this stuff you’d think he was up to his ears in false-namechecking stuff he heard about. I am not saying Nas is not smart enough to know everything in this verse up down and center, I’m saying he sounds full of it. Now put yourself in the shoes of a 20 year old whose old hip hop uncle says Nas is the god. You hear this song and think…..really? How is this better than J. Cole?
The real answer to that kid is he used to be. Now he is swishing the wine around his thin glass and sniffing before he sips. That’s cool. He’s earned it. Anyone acting like this dude is still “Nasty Nas” is just kidding themselves. Not I. I know this is a different dude and after all I’ve said about him, he dislikes me worse than any doubts I have about him. This Nas is king of the intellectual and economic caste system and to him, I’m junk no matter what I’ve been through. Before I wrote this it didn’t matter, I ain’t him.