This album was released on June 15th this year (2018). Out of all the albums Kanye West is releasing this year, this is the one I’m most excited for. Nas is one of my favorite rappers of all time, so I’m really looking forward to hearing a short album executively produced by Kanye West from him. His last release, Life Is Good was a really great project, so I’ll be satisfied if he matches that level of quality. I’ve seen some people say this album is kind of disappointing though, so I’m not gonna get my hopes up too high.
Not For Radio featuring Puff Daddy & 070 Shake produced by Kanye West, Mike Dean, Benny Blanco & Cashmere Cat
Cops Shot the Kid featuring Kanye West produced by Kanye West & Andrew Dawson
White Label produced by Kanye West, Mike Dean & BoogzDaBeast
Bonjour featuring Tony Williams produced by Kanye West, Che Pope, Mike Dean & Eric Danchick
everything featuring The-Dream & Kanye West produced by Plain Pat, Cashmere Cat, Kanye West, Mike Dean & Benny Blanco
Adam & Eve featuring The-Dream produced by E*vax, Mike Dean, Kanye West & Plain Pat
Simple Things produced by Kanye West & Mike Dean
Nas’ albums have consistently started with fantastic introductions—excluding Nastradamus of course—and this one is no different. The production is powerful and dramatic. It has what sounds like a latin choir in the background. The performance from 070 Shake on the hook is nothing short of anthemic, and the random shit talking from Puff Daddy adds a nice flair to the song. Nas raps about the way black Americans are viewed by the rest of the country, and I’m gonna be honest… It comes off a little hotep-ish. It’s still really dope though. He has a mid-paced flow, and a powerful delivery. It’s a really good intro. The Slick Rick sample on Cops Shot the Kid is fucking awesome. It’s one of the more experimental beats I’ve heard from Kanye in recent memory. I feel like I said that about another beat from him recently though. It kinda reminds me of the way El-P flipped Zack De La Rocha’s voice on Close Your Eyes & Count to Fuck. As you can surmise from the title of the song, the content is very morbid, and sadly realistic. It’s yet another poignant commentary on American police practices. The Richard Pryor sample at the beginning of the track was a nice touch, and Kanye’s verse was pretty good too. It’s a really dark song. The way the song ends with the sound of a child screaming caused me to literally say out loud, “THAT’S FUCKED UP!” It’s another great song. The beat on White Label is kinda weird. It’s definitely the most underwhelming song on the album. I just wasn’t really that impressed by the production, and the content didn’t particularly interest me either. He just goes in about basic rap shit, talking about how much money he makes and how successful he is. It doesn’t really stand out in any way. I feel like the mixing was kinda weird too. The beat seemed way louder than Nas’ vocals. Bonjour has a really lavish sounding beat. It sounds really familiar to me. Oh yeah; that sample was flipped by Sonny Vintage on Planet Asia’s Velour Portraits EP. It’s almost the same exact beat. The vocals from Tony Williams are smooth as hell. It’s a wavy song about the life of luxury Nas lives. It doesn’t have the most interesting content, but it’s a pretty polished track sonically. It’s okay. I’d definitely rather just listen to the Planet Asia version. The song “everything” marks a return to the greatness exhibited at the beginning of the album. It has the most beautiful hook on the project; the haunting vocal performances from Kanye West, The-Dream & Caroline Shaw deserve all the praise they can get. The verses from Nas are really powerful too. It’s a really long track, and it just feels really grandiose. If any song from this album gets a music video, I hope it’s this one. Adam & Eve is one of the more uptempo songs on the album, which really isn’t saying much. It’s got a more aggressive flow from Nas though, which I really appreciate. The beat was decent, and The-Dream did an okay job with the hook. It’s an entertaining enough song, but there aren’t really any aspects that push it to the next level. I fuck with it though. The production on the final track is dope af. I like how Nas addressed the ongoing criticism of his beat selection too. I’m typically more focused on the artist in question’s vocal performance rather than the production they choose to perform over. However, the outro has one of the best beats on the album, if not the best. It’s a really short track, and it ends kind of abruptly, but the beat is great and Nas rapped well on it. It’s dope.
This album is great. It’s not gonna blow anyone away unless you’re for whatever reason expecting mediocrity from Nas. To me he doesn’t sound as hungry as he did on Life Is Good, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I like when he completely blacks out and murders beats like he did on The Don & Nasty, and we don’t really get that anywhere on this project. There aren’t really any bad songs on here, so it’s one of the more consistent projects in Nas’ catalogue. Obviously nothing is gonna top Illmatic. I think this project will sit comfortably in the better half of his discography. It’s dope.
Favorite Song: everything
Least Favorite Song: White Label
Watch the video below for more thoughts on this album