Monday, October 30, 2006

Hip-Hop Is Dead

Everyone wanted to talk about the snippet so bad. I said wait until we have the full length. Well, we now have the full length. Have at it.

Production by Will.I.Am

Hip-Hop Is Dead . . . . December 19th.

If Hip-Hop should die before I wake, I put an extended clip inside of my AK
Roll to every station, murder the DJ - roll to every station, murder the DJ

Niggas smoke, laugh, party, and die in the same corner
Get cash, live fast, body they man's momma
Rich ass niggas is riding with three llamas
Revenge in their eyes, Hennessy and the ganja
Word to the wise, with villain state of minds
Grinding, hitting Brazilian dimes from behind
Grinding, hitting Brazilian dimes from behind
Grinding, hitting Brazilian dimes from behind
Whenever, if ever, I roll up, it's sewn up
Any ghetto will tell ya, Nas help grow us up
My face once graced promotional Sony trucks
Hundred million in billing, I help blow 'em up
Gave my nigga my right, I could have gave left
So like my girl Foxy, a nigga went Def
So nigga, who's your top ten?
Is it MC Shan? Is it MC Ren?

The bigger the cap the bigger the peelin'
Come through something ill missing a ceiling
What influenced my raps? Stick-ups and killings
Kidnappings, project buildings, drug dealings
Criticize that? Why's that? 'Cause Nas rap
Is compared to legitimized crap
'Cause we love to talk on ass we getting
Most intellectuals will only half listen
So you can't blame jazz musicians
Or David Stern with his NBA fashion issues
Oh, I think they like me - in my white tee
You can't ice me, we here for life, b
On my second marriage, Hip-Hop's my first wifey
And for that we not taking it lightly
If Hip-Hop should die, we die together
Bodies in the morgue lie together
All together now . . .

Everybody sound the same
Commercialized the game
Reminiscing when it wasn't all business
It forgot where it started
So we all gather here for the dearly departed
Hip-Hopper since a toddler
One homeboy became a man and then a mobster
If it dies, let me get my last swig of vodka
RIP - we'll donate your lungs to a Rasta
Went from turntables to MP3's
From Beat Street to commercials on Mickey D's
From gold cables to Jacob's
From plain facials to Botox and facelifts
I'm looking over my shoulder
It's about eighty niggas from my hood that showed up
And they came to show love
Sold out concert and the doors'll close shut

Nas: Hip-Hop Is Dead


Blogger Fletch said...

Okay, let me start this off by saying I got the rebuttal of a lifetime to the first person that cries about the sample: "shit bangs." But really, to say this is lazy production is pretty myopic, a knee-jerk reaction.

First off, all praise to Salaam Remi and Thief's Theme, but he basically just looped a famous break. That's a part of Hip-Hop's foundation, but Will.I.Am produced the hell out of this. Yes, I said that, Will.I.Am produced the hell out of this. It's real energetic, the drums (they live?) feel very large, the organ is used much more effectively, and the bassline is given greater show. Moreover, beyond the chorus, for as similar as the origins of these two songs may be, they're not the same.

And then what have I been saying about how Will.I.Am is great at placing vocals? Check . . . plus, the filtering in and out of the Apache break, plus, the chopped and screwed part, plus, the "Hip-Hop" chant.

Not to get too uppity, but this is the difference between making a beat and producing a song.

So yeah, maybe I'm just experiencing the normal "new song hype", but uh, this is a winner. I'm hoping hard it gets a video.

And I haven't even talked about how Nas did all that above justice times two.

Hip-Hop Is Dead and sounding better than it has in years.

October 30, 2006 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Colin said...

Agreed. Will.I.Am's use of the sample is more to my liking and the beat has a lot more depth to it. Remi sure as hell did his thing, and the song is fantastic, but I like the beat on "Hip-Hop Is Dead" better. I like "Thief's Theme" better as a whole, but this new one is probably going to grow on me. It's fantastic.

October 30, 2006 10:49 PM  
Anonymous understanding said...

I'm glad that u brought up the production aspect FLETCH. I mean so many so-called hip-hop fans out here have been criticizing WILL. I. AM's production but I analyzed the beat and I too loved how he mixed the APACHE break beat in there as well as I think its "BIG BEAT"? Plus I absolutley loved the part before verse three where we hear what sounds like a stadium full of people chanting "HIP-HOP". This song has a very big feel 2 it and if it does get the video treatment I hope they do it right. I could see them incorporating various elements of hip-hop including some old school break dancin' and poppin' lol [yeah I said it!!!] plus some turntabilism and a funeral scene. I can visualize it. But lemme stop playin' wanna be A & R/ Music Video Director. Overall I love the song. I just got it last night from another site so I can't wait 2 give it the treatment by bangin' it in my car and really soakin' it in.

October 31, 2006 5:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

exactly, people who criticize the beat don't know what they're talking about.

The thing is that it's fresh, but using staples of hiphop.

I am so sick overproduced, simple loops of 70 or 80's funk/soul. *cough*kanye*cough*

People hate just cuz it's If it was kanye, the sheeple would love it.

October 31, 2006 5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is heavy. Nas kills it! Production is crazy. Big ups to Will I Am and Nasty for taking us back! Dam* the game is so polluted, that was like a breath of freash air.

October 31, 2006 6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way i see it people are always going to criticize Nas beat selection. It could be the best beat he had in years and people will look down on it. Im mored worried about what he has to say then the production. I'd rather have mediocre production and 5 mic flow than vice versa. Another thing this album is going to be the best production wise hands down since Illmatic. So what if Will.I.Am used the same sample? He made it better. people worry too much about how the production is rather then the content of the songs and the 2 cents---Esco

October 31, 2006 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know everyong is feeling it here, but, to play devils advocate, I would like to make two points. First, I love the lyrics, the flow, everything vocal wise etc. BUT the same sample from another single, and a single off your last record? A bit weak.

Also, for a very, very bold title track called "hip hop is dead" why would you enlist one of the very people killing hip hop (Will.I HUMPS.AM) to produce it?

I am still excited to hear the album, I think overall it will be his best production wise in a long time.

October 31, 2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Okay, whether Devil's Advocate or not, I'm happy someone stuck their neck out there and disagreed. For a second, I was afraid that the initial love fest would detract the naysayer's, because, elsewhere, this song, predominantly the beat, is catching some flack. First off, I see three common types of people that have a problem with it (and this speaks to more than just this one song as well):

1)"The Nas hater" . . . It was a wash from the start for them, so no worry.
2)"The Nas stan" . . . They hold Nas to such a high degree, especially when he doesn't cozy up to what they so adamantly demand. Let them be mad.
3)"The Hip-Hop fan" . . . their beef is the most legitimate.

I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt, say that you fall into that latter category, and will proceed, point by point.

A)"The same sample from another single, and a single off your last record? A bit weak."

It's the same sample but not the same result. Instrumentation is different and the overall production--drums, hook, bridge, chant, breaks, etc.--is really giving it a new feel, no matter if both tracks use In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. (In fact, this is part of the reason I didn't wanna post on the snippet that leaked, because, generally speaking, a meager radio rip loses a lot of quality; you miss the preciseness in the sound. Fittingly, it shouldn't come as a surprise that most of the people harped on the production angle when they couldn't even appreciate it completely.)

Will I admit that having heard Thief's Theme dampens this one a bit? In the sense that it's not as fresh? Okay, it's not as fresh, but it's still just as dope. I think, if anything, this reinforces a point I've been trying to make here since day one: Hip-Hop is based on the "how" more than it is the "what." It's not "what" record you sample, but "how" you use said sample. Will.I.Am used it quite well, IMO of course.

B)"For a very, very bold title track called "hip hop is dead" why would you enlist one of the very people killing hip hop (Will.I HUMPS.AM) to produce it?"

Okay, no offense and all, but this seems like the rallying cry of someone from group two above. First, for whatever rocks you wanna throw at Will.I.Am, his most recent work speaks volumes in the opposite direction, e.g. tracks with Too Short, Game, and here with Nas. It's the antithesis of the watered-down, Fergie-ready pop fodder that his reputation in the past couple years has been about. Hell, he even gave Justin Timberlake kind of a "hard" song. So I think you're getting the image a little mixed up with the music.

Secondly, if a Jewish kid from Beverly Hills can perfect the Queensbridge Sound (Alchemist), if a white VP of a record company can be responsible for one of the most memorable songs of the year (Craig Kallman / Lupe Fiasco's Daydreamin'), then who's to say who can make good Hip-Hop and who can't? The music should be the focus, all the rest is just distraction.

Finally, your definition of what's killing Hip-Hop and Nas' own don't have to be the same.

But your disagreement is more than welcome.

October 31, 2006 2:39 PM  
Blogger Aegis865 said... is very under rated, his two solo albums are excellent as are the first two BEP's albums.Simply because 'My Humps' is awful is pretty irrelevent;'Hey Ya' gave me headaches but did that make Outkast any less brilliant?Hell no.

Back on point:I don't particurly like the production,precisely because of that sample.I didn't like it on Thief's Theme;its simply too familar and gets repetetive quickly.Re-using it again so quickly simply seems lazy.

However you can't complain about the lyrics and his delivery.The hook's absolutely crazy, hope he keeps it.

October 31, 2006 3:40 PM  
Blogger Game Theory said...

Call me crazy, but I am pretty sure I liked the way the vocals sounded better on the radio rip...

October 31, 2006 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Subculture said...

The beat bangs and Nas kills is in top form. But, being realistic here... with all of what you wrote Fletch, I agree with you. However, the same sample...I can't say that that's a great choice. It took away from the excitement of hearing a new Nas joint. As soon as it came on I was like "wtf?" and pretty much kept thinking "why the hell would he do the same exact sample ?" 2nd and 3rd listen where much better for me.
Also, for all the comments about Will.I.Am. I thought that "behind the front" was a dope album. I also think that he's a talented producer. However, withh all of his new found hardcore hip hop hustle, it cant be overlooked that his music in the last 2 or 3 albums was a deliberate play for pop radio. I'm not the type to ever be mad at that. i think that agood pop tune is great when your in the mood for it. However, if you listen to the lyrics on the first couple of b.e.p albums (pre-Fergie) they where attempting to be sort of a post-tribe type of group. Dissing watered down commercial pop acts etc.. Then they turn around and do the same thing? I think the phrase "hip hop is dead" does speak to people or acts that do these kinds of things, no matter how good he is behind the boards.

October 31, 2006 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually a Nas stan will say things like "Nastradamus was actually a hot album". I agree with the laziness of reusing a similar beat which in my opinion was probably the worst one he could have reused. At least flip something and make it difficult for the listener to tell it was used before. This is just blatant.

October 31, 2006 5:28 PM  
Blogger Game Theory said...

Again, I want to say--I love this track. His delivery is phonomenal. But honestly, thats all overshadowing the fact that were not really getting the sick wordplay that I think he really should be doing. His songs have evolved into more of a descriptive process, as opposed to twisting the language with witty metaphors or such alike. That could of been the purpose for this track, so with respect for that, I hold all reservations until the entire album drops. But I think its something we should watch out for and regard in our expectations as far as his lyrics go. We wouldn't want Nas to become 'Snoop status'.(Especially after that thunder Jay Z just dropped on Hot 97)

October 31, 2006 6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nas has used the same sample for different songs and different albums you just dont notice it. Thief's Theme was a bonus cut so I dont think you can count that either. This is Hip Hop, tell me who doesnt use a sample that hasnt already been used before, the art is in making it sound different.--Esco

November 01, 2006 5:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like this song after listening to it a few more times. I wrote the comment above about Will.I. HUMPs.Am and Fletch your Alchemist points are right on, it should be about the music.

That said, I guess the point I was really trying to get across was that with a title that HUGE, "HIP HOP IS DEAD", I just thought he was going to absolutely kill it, have everyone talking about it etc. I forwarded the song to several of my friend who are in that whole "Nas sucked after illmatic crowd" (which I obviously do not agree with). All of them had the same reaction, just saying it was "ok" one of them wrote this: "it's ok, the lyrics are good, it just doesn't beat fishscale, if you are going to say hip hop is dead, the title track of your album should be better than everything on fishscale since that was the record of the year, and this song is not" I thought that was a good point, this is a solid jab, but it's not the uppercut I was hoping it to be.

In closing, maybe my expectations were too high, it is a great song, the lyrics are hot, I guess I was just thinking it would be bigger than this song appears.

I would hope this post places me ostensibly, in the 3rd, hip hop fan category. Like Premier said in an interview earlier this year, " I want to hear a Nas record man, I want him to win".


November 01, 2006 8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This isn't the first time Nas has reused a sample. Althought it was a mixtape, he used the sample on Welcome to the Firm as in Disciple from SD.

November 01, 2006 9:30 AM  
Anonymous max said...

like the versus, like the beat, love the production. but he's not focusing enough. if the idea is hip hop is dead, show us! it seems like it's gotten awful easy for nas to write versus like this. he could slip something like this onto any album. i was expecting a greater concept.

November 02, 2006 11:50 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Okay, so I've had about a week to sit on this one, and reading my comments here, it's funny that I've spent most of the time talking about / defending the beat. Thing is, I'm a lyrics head 100/100 times, so maybe that's why I'm allowing myself to "excuse" the recycled sample. Regardless, I could definitely see either side of the argument: as to why it's a letdown, as to why it may not be.

However, I'd think it less of a debate to say that Nas came off quite well. As to it not being metaphoric or conceptually lacking (c'mon, man, "Snoop status"?), Nas, at times, can have trouble sticking to themes. But here, reinforced by the production, this is a song that keeps the topic of "Hip-Hop" pretty much in focus, without becoming as contrived or cloying as "rap songs about rap music" can be at times. A couple highlights:

"Niggas smoke, laugh, party, and die in the same corner"
Picture that, this is like Hip-Hop via time lapse photography.

"Grinding, hitting Brazilian dimes from behind" 3x
A pretty interesting reference to the Mike Jones' of the game, with the whole repetition and chopped and screwed technique in use.

"So like my girl Foxy, a nigga went Def"
Something for the simile fans.

"The bigger the cap the bigger the peelin'" / "Oh, I think they like me - in my white tee"
He's quoting Cube and the Franchize Boyz in the same verse, while the David Stern line brings you the outsider's POV on Hip-Hop lyricism.

"If Hip-Hop should die, we die together / Bodies in the morgue lie together"
Verbal imagery

"Hip-Hopper since a toddler
One homeboy became a man and then a mobster
If it dies, let me get my last swig of vodka
RIP - we'll donate your lungs to a Rasta"
I think this is my favorite section of the entire song. Not only does Nas give you that time-lapse look once more, of how he / Hip-Hop grew from diapers to don status, but the Rasta line is chuckle-worthy.

"Sold out concert and the doors'll close shut"
Nice, abrupt way to end the song, and I can only imagine what track is up next.

Finally, I know people have been on / off with the hook, but I think it's pretty crazy. And if this is any indication of its effectiveness, in the last couple days, I've gotten about 100 or so hits, via google, from people searching for "if Hip-Hop should die before I wake" and "murder the DJ" each.

November 05, 2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Although I won't know for sure until I have the retail copy in my player come Tuesday, it appears that Def Jam / Nas went with the oh-so-unfortunate tamer version of this track. The principal difference is that we are no longer implored to "murder the DJ"; rather, we should "wreck the DJ."

Also, as originally thought, it turns out, according to the album credits, that Will.I.Am played the drums live, along with the organ and keyboard work. So it's the same sample, yes, but given a little twist.

December 17, 2006 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Mr T said...

For some reason the more listn to this track the more i like it. Anyone seen the live performance of the track on Jimmy Kimmel Show? It was bananas!

December 18, 2006 4:02 AM  
Blogger Fletch said...

Yup, Nas with a live band, supported by the very apt Will.I.Am, and with a hold of his breath, proved to be an on-point performance.

December 18, 2006 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Rishi_B said...

So very disapointed at the edit making the CD. Not sure what they're tryna do/say with that, but it's the music that suffers.

December 19, 2006 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone else relized that the "HIP HOP" chant sounds remarkably like the chant for POL POT the camboadian dictator who killed thousands for "free thinking" 70's ?

December 22, 2006 11:38 AM  

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