You know, I don't know how I feel coming into this one...
While Dancehall Reggae and rap make for a more natural combination -- as evidenced by BDP and the legendary commercial debut of the not-quite best ever Biggie on a SuperCat remix -- I was not too sure with how a more Roots Reggae/Rap hybrid would come across. Hell, even Capleton leaned to his own Dancehall sensibilities when Lil Jon (yes, that same one) gave him a beat to remix Wings of the Morning with Method Man.
Knowing that Nas
For the sake of me, I am PRAYING that this shit works. And for those who doubt me, I did not become the dude to own/download literally thousands of albums because I wanted to hate on shit. Yes, often I come across an album that is an absolute fucking stinkfest. More often than I really want to, honestly. But as an as-described music connoisseur and collector, I WANT to take in music I can like.
As it were, I will give this album 3 objective listens in the forming of my opinion as to whether or not it will be worth my $9.99 or less for single-disc CDs at FYE.
[Phlip note - someone there HAS to be seeing these, the link is over there on the right... I do accept paypal]
Don't mind me, I am watching NBA playoffs basketball during the "typing the blog" phase of this...
1 - As We Enter
Wait, no intro bars, right on with the song, VERY nice!
Holy shit, they're trading 4-bar sets.
This is fucking nice, I like how this is happening already. If I have a real gripe with this song, it is the hook. It reminds me of Busta Rhyme's Too Dangerous, but I think I heard Trevor's voice, so no real gripe there.
I am im-fucking pressed with how this album started.
2 - Tribal War (feat. K'Naan)
Okay, this sample will kill me all fucking night...
Wait, no it won't, now that the singing starts.
Again, this is not bad. Not as good as the first song. K'Naan seems out of place here, but it is a bit odd trying to even describe what IS "in place" on an album such as this. That being said, I do not dislike it, even though the beat is a slight bit boring. Those of us who have been listening to Nas after Illmatic has come to excuse this fault as a minor character flaw...
Wait, was Nas even IN this song?!!?
3 - Strong Will Continue
Okay... This reminds me a lot of songs from Welcome to Jamrock, and that is a GOOD thing. I am very much liking how this is happening so far. I guess the buildup and hype coming into this album was worth it after all.
Oh wow, the beat changed gears when Nas started rhyming, this is on par with expectations of what these two could come up with. If I had to hit my stop button right now and decide on whether or not to buy this, Fye would have my $10.00 this coming weekend when I make it to the mall.
Oops, Nas mentions a pending case, might be a bad idea. Oh well, that's what he gets for picking the wrong women to insert children into. Doesn't take from the song, word to the first amendment. Not bad at all, no misses yet.
4 - Leaders (feat. Stephen Marley)
More similarities to Jamrock, and still I do not complain. Nas should probably not be mentioning Benzes until he has completed his
This song is kinda laid-back.
[Phlip note - DAMN, I hate that term]
Not a lot of life-changingness about this song, just a decent middle-of-the-album tune. Not necessary to skip, but probably forgotten when compared to the prior 3 songs.
5 - Friends
This song reminds me of the beginning of Shottas, which ironically starred Marley's brother...
Yes, that is a good thing.
Okay, now that the song begins, Damian is going in again in that manner for which we loved Jamrock. Nas gives us a good verse and the Marley boy gives us another great one, then Nas returns to finish the song off. This is actually a pretty good song. I still have not heard a bad one yet. Mad, I am not at this song so far.
6 - Count Your Blessings
This beat reminds me of the electric slide.
That is a very bad thing, but I will stay in this as long as I am able...
As it were, if I had to pick a "worst song so far," this is the one, and that is just to say that it is only okay. Not BAD, so much, but just not good.
[Phlip note - if The Hawks think they have a chance against The Magic, they're high as Bobby Brown]
This song was not terrible, but surely not good either. It is passable at best.
7 - Disappear
This reminds me of "Move!" from Jamrock. That is a good thing, until Nas rhymes in an almost-fast-rhyming scheme that he should probably not employ.
[Phlip note - Maurice Evans of The Hawks looks like one of the Goobacks from South Park]
The change in how the beat is presented is very cool, and I guess it fits that rhyme scheme, so I guess he is not fucking it up. The gun talk might be unnecessary, but that is the case with a lot of Nas' career.
Okay, now Damian starts a verse whispering, then ups the intensity. This is pretty good.
So far, this album is pretty good, I am not angered yet.
End of the first quarter, Orlando 34 - Atlanta 23... This will not be pretty.
[Phlip note - y'all know I love basketball]
8 - The Promised Land (feat. Dennis Brown)
This starts with some dialog. I couldn't bring myself to care enough to go back to it, it was too long without music. When the beat starts, it is enormous, and I are very much liking this beat.
The way they work on this beat, I like as well. I guess one could suffice it to say that I like this song. Dennis Brown closes out the song, and I am not mad at all.
9 - In His Own Words
Wow, this song starts off VERY soft-sounding... The onset of the lyrics don't help. Ugh, electric hand-claps?!!? Electric hand claps are supposed to be employed singularly, not in chorus... J. Dilla taught us that when he taught us all to make beats.
"Mediocrity" is the word of the day here. They're so intent on not making a bad song, they wound up making one that was barely not bad, damn sure isn't a good one.
Atlanta is somehow only down by 12 points halfway through the second quarter.
10 - Nah Mean
Okay, damned if I don't like the FUCK out of this beat... I would bet that this is a Premier beat.
[Phlip button - no dice, oh well... I will find out sooner or later]
Fuck anything I have said prior to this, this is my favorite song on this album. The beat, plus lyrics, equals the kind of song that I was waiting to hear right now.
Damn, the "yo, mister..." shit over the bridge in the middle of the song was kinda dumb, but they're trying to stick to a concept here, so I guess it works.
Man, I REALLY like this song a lot.
Unfortunate irony: Nas's last line in the song was "nowadays I do rap and it pays," and the line stops immediately... I couldn't help but laugh at how much cash this fucking simp is hemorrhaging into his ex wife's accounts to buy stupid hairpieces and clothes that makes homosexuals masturbate in jealousy.
Halftime... Orlando 53 - Atlanta 45...
Stick a fork in them Hawks.
11 - Patience
When this beat starts, I think to myself "Jigga What...... Jigga who?!!?"
But there again, I am an asshole like that, and I can't help thinking that Nas is not at least a LITTLE bit salty that he married Kelis and Jay married Beyonce, thus presenting himself with a better career AND wife out of this situation.
That was fucked up.
Back to work here.
Damian goes first on this song, and this still feels no less like the aforementioned song, with less energy. Somehow, though, it is not a bad song. Suffice to day that this is actually pretty good, except for the annoying-ass hook. You know what? With a better/less annoying hook, this song could be very good.
You know as an artist, it is hard to know just where in the hell Nas is coming from, and to trust just how earnest he is in this whole pseudo-pan-africanism shit. One day he is out for dead presidents to fuckin' represent him, then for 2 albums he is nation of gods and earths, then he is Jesus/god's son.
Now he is "back to Africa"? What about the pause on the in-between to remind the kids that "they can," while reminding skrippahs that they "owe him somethin'"? An enigma, this boy is... Such an enigma, that I can not be so loose in granting him that whole "deep" branding that people seem to want to give him, but that will be another blog for another day.
12 - My Generation (feat. Joss Stone & Lil Wayne)
"one of these things, is not like the others!"
Suffice it to say that I was a bit weirded out by the concept/lineup of this one before I'd even heard a second of the song.
Why is Jr. Gong going so hard on a song that started with a choir of chirrens?
The beat transpiring underneath this mismatched song/hook is not terrible, but only because it sounds like the stock sounds in someone's keyboard/program that you build from to make a beat. Nas is name-dropping shit to make us ignore his status as a high school dropout.
Joss Stone fits in this song.
You know what? After "Misunderstood" on Tha Carter III, and the fact that he is documented as not being as stupid as he pretends to be, Lil Wayne actually does this song justice. Again, dislike the boy all you want, but the beauty of his Minstrel Show is that he is laughing back at you.
Oh shit, technical fouls... Perhaps someone informed Atlanta that there has been a playoffs series happening all this past week tonight?
13 - Africa Must Wake Up (feat. K'Naan)
2 songs with this dude?
I don't even know who he is, let alone like his voice, but me try to listen to this song...
This comes across, at the beginning, as "last song on the album" material. This beat is not so bad, not at all. Nas is back on some Africa shit. Maybe I am an asshole, maybe I am jaded, but when I read the press release on an album, or talk of anything and I see that non-specific word "empower/empowerment," I begin to wane in what I am willing to accept until I see something that means something.
The great basketball coach John Wooden once warned us against mistaking activity for acheivement. Gimme some results before you start motherfucking claiming shit.
Oh shit, this song is still playing?
Well, the hosts and their guests are no longer talking, and we have an electric guitar solo and it is not bad... This song, on the other hand? It was kind of like the "last-song-on-the-album" backdrop to my general bother with Nas.
Fuck me, THANK YOUS?!!?
More Africa shit?!!?
This song is easily a minute and a half longer than it should be.
It is not the "worst" song on the album, but it is on my "bottom 3" list... Just the way anyone who was not exactly slated to break the soundscan banks should be sure to close an album when he is slated to pay an arm and a testicle in child/spousal support because he is not more careful about who he puts his penis in.
3rd quarter... Orlando 75 - Atlanta 66.
First thing I noticed when I was setting up the track list for the review was that there were 13 songs and 5 featured other people, 5 guests total...
I worry when an album already starring two hosts feels the need to share the microphone THAT much. If you recall, I have said the same about other albums I have reviewed recently. On the whole, though, the guests were not obtrusive, and ironically enough, Lil Wayne turned in a verse that fits the bill upon which he is fit himself. Everyone else stayed in their lanes as well.
Good music is good music, and while this album is in NO WAY classic material, it is not bad at all, actually is pretty damned good as a total package.
I think I can allow myself to loose $9.99 to the clutches of the FYE machine for this one.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to wash my ass and catch the Lakers game up until I lose consciousness and go to bed.