Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hope

Produced by Nas and L.E.S.

[NAS]
Ghetto niggas strutting with nothing but dreams in Queens broke
MAC-10's, you can smell the PCP smoke
Mele Mel told it real in the music he wrote
Those were the days I remember
We used to be close, then I was nine, coldest winter I remember
Was slipping in December, two feet of snow
Yeah, that's the East Coast, that black ice
Symbolized the rap life
It was slick and smooth
I understood I had to come from the hood
Doing the Pee Wee Herman, the Smurf
Before them phones chirped
The block's drugs flowing, didn't have your own work
You had to have somebody else's, a small chrome on your pelvis
Starter Jacket, blue Georgetown or green Celtic
Your girl's too expensive, she wants shellfish
Red Lobster was poppin', standing on that line forever
I wish somebody would step on my Bally leather's
Now it's whatever . . . Hip-Hop's forever
Kept my radio on 98 or BLS
Had a pre-pubescent lyric gift but niggas never hear me spit
My little brother tried to warn 'em, I was a tornado coming
He knew from inside, like the eye of a storm and
Told my pops about it; he gave us tickets to that Wild Style flick
Double Trouble, retarded, we was the proudest
I never had a summer job
Sweeping leaves, socks to my knees
Homemade shorts, cutoff Lee's
I ain't work a day in my life
Wiping away eraser of the paper man
I'm just trying to say it right
Big radio, tape slowing down
Lower the lights go, battery dead
I gotta freeze 'em till they ice cold
In the freezer later, I'm staring at the speaker
Sunk in them 808's deeper, cleaning my sneakers
With the bristles of a toothbrush, soap and water
I let the shoe strings soak in water

Nas f/ Chrisette Michele: Hope

8 Comments:

Blogger Fletch said...

Oh, the decision to end on an acapella. You could speculate this is because Nas is making a point that lyrics are no longer important in the game, so, in turn, he decides to put total emphasis on his, as if to say there's still "hope." Or it could be seen as a kind of shrewd, make-your-own-beat, marketing strategy. Whatever the reason, it proved to be absolutely the right choice to capture the urgency and immediacy of Nas' message.

Focusing on his final lines, I think we can all be happy that Nas didn't end on some cliché, "in summation, this killed Hip-Hop" or "therefore, this is what we need to do to bring Hip-Hop alive" type of statement. But the closing bit about the sneakers and soap and water does produce a couple of possible readings: 1) water as representative of a larger cleansing, a rebirth of sorts to take place; 2) a salute to the style of the streets and Hip-Hop that Nas grew up under, the essence of what first inspired him. Fortunately, I don't think these two interpretations have to be separate. Hope is equally a nod to the past and promise for a new day. Fittingly, at its best, that's what this album represents as well.

"Ain't got nothing to do with old school, new school,
Dirty South, West Coast, East Coast; this about us.
This our thing. This came from the gut, from the blood.
From the soul. This is our thing. So I say what I say.
And I say what I say, and I mean it.

Y'all take it how ya wanna take it.
'Cause if you asking, 'why is Hip-Hop dead?'
It's a pretty good chance you the reason it died, man.
It's a pretty good chance your lame ass, corny ass is the reason it died.
You don't give a fuck about it. You don't know nothing about it.
You want this paper, be a hustler. You're a hustler, you ain't a rapper.
Get your paper, man. But this rap shit is real . . . bitch.

This shit is real, bitch."

December 17, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger dubs said...

I heard "Hope" with the original beat on grounduphiphop.com and I gotta say, I would have loved to see it on the album. Nothing wrong with the acapella, I understand Nas' point of it, but that beat and lyrics go perfectly together.

December 17, 2006 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Mr T said...

There was an original beat to Hope? First I've heard of that, I thought it was made an acapella.

December 18, 2006 3:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya it sounds like a Kanye beat circa 2002, but it is a great beat. Check out grounduphiphop.com 's audio

December 18, 2006 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Rishi_B said...

The instrumental version of Hope floating around on the net right now is NOT the official version. It's a fan-made remix, and this can be confirmed by visiting http://www.soundclick.com/player/single_player.cfm?songid=4420289&q=hi&ref=10. This guy had the beat up on his site a month before Hip-Hop Is Dead leaked, and imo when you listen to the track, Nas' lyrics don't match up very well at all.

December 18, 2006 3:27 PM  
Blogger Game Theory said...

Great verses. I definitely agree with you Fletch, on Nas not coming cliche with the 'in summation this killed hip hop' lines. Was crossing my fingers, hoping he wouldn't do it. Id rather have him call me 'bitch' a few times., lol.

December 18, 2006 5:06 PM  
Anonymous tray said...

All the singing at the end comes just short of ruining it.

December 19, 2006 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This rap shit is real, bitch."

Might be the best track on the album. The lyrics and adlibs are so on point...

"Hip Hop's forever...."

"My little brother tried to warn them
I was a tornado coming
He knew from inside
like the eye of the storm..."

Pure poetry.

December 25, 2006 12:01 AM  

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