Posted by: Dave on July 25, 2008 at 10:03 am

NasUntitledNote: Nas originally planned to call the album Ni**er, which caused a media backlash and strong encouragement from the powers-that-be to change the controversial title. Instead of offering a new name for his 9th album, he decided to leave it “untitled,” essentially allowing its original title to be implied.
Sound: The beats are a mix of vintage soulful and funky flavors, orchestrated somber reflections and slick, modern, electro bangers. Meaty rap rock guitars show up on track 7 “Sly Fox,” Nas’ attack on Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and the channel’s parent company News Corporation.
Lyrics: Nas spends the majority of the album contemplating African Americans’ history in the U.S. and their current status in society. His words aim to educate and empower black people, and advocate change in our government. On the album’s final track “Black President,” he contemplates a world with Barack Obama as President of the United States.
Look For: Track 2 contains interpolations from “Message from a Blackman,” a song that was originally recorded by The Temptations and included on their 1969 album Puzzle People. It has since been covered and sampled many times. Interestingly though, RZA just paid homage to the song by sampling it on the first single – “You Can’t Stop Me Now” – from his recently released album Digi Snacks. It’s unfortunate for both Nas and RZA that the classic song was reinterpreted on tracks prominently featured on albums they released just three weeks apart from each other – kinda steals the thunder for both of them.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Sly Fox” (Top 20 Songs of 2008 Candidate); “N.I.*.*.E.R. (The Slave and The Master)”; “Fried Chicken” featuring Busta Rhymes
Medium Rotation tracks: “Untitled”; “Y’all My Ni**as”; “Black President”; “You Can’t Stop Us Now” featuring Eban Thomas of the Stylistics and The Last Poets; “Testify”
Recommended: For an album that makes such strong, provocative statements on race and politics, it’s very unfortunate that much of the first half is mired with lighter, radio-friendly, subpar tracks. Surely, Def Jam wanted to temper some of Nas’ heavy commentaries with some softer tracks, but the diluted stuff could have been pushed to the back. On the other hand, if you start with track 6 “America” and listen to the end, you’ll have a quality experience with a strong finish. Nas is still one of the greatest MCs in the game, too bad he wasn’t able to push through a whole album that captures the fire burning inside of him.
Grade: B+ (1st half = B- ; 2nd half = A)

Listen to Tracks/Buy Music:
On iTunes

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