‘I am’ was received well this year despite most of its being the biggest load of bullshit this emcee has ever put out. Not many people could see that this was plain crap, now it's his second album within a year, the third if you count all the bootlegged tracks out there and if this don’t convince you Nas has fallen off then nothing will. Maybe some of you reading this think I am the wrong person to review this album as it seems Nas conveys such a negative image upon me. The truth is I am hoping he will show talent, not waiting for him to fall off, the day he spits lines that once again inspire emcees to pick up a mic will be hip hops greatest day, if that day ever comes.
The title of this album is misleading as Nas does little to try and predict as his namesake did so why ‘Nastradamous’? 'Cause it sounds good? No! The title track is the lead single off here and basically its horrible. Nas comes with some verses that would suit the standards of other emcees out there but this is Nas, the lyricist who once blew me and many other fans away with his verses. The music for this track has been used by EPMD before and it just sounds cheap and nasty here, add to this the singing Nas does for the hook and undoubtedly this is his worst single so far. Maybe that single was made to sell units? The rest of the album is good right? No! ‘The life we choose’ starts the album off and it doesn’t really play a great intro to the album at all. While the track is OK, its not exactly got ya mouth watering for what is to lie ahead. The same thing happens with ‘Some of us have angels’ while it’s a nice track to listen to it won’t have you hitting that rewind button.
The album only really kicks off by track number 6 when we hit the only DJ Premier produced track on the album. ‘Come get up’ is probably the worst offering this producer and emcee have come up with so far, its not rubbish but when you bring tracks like ‘NY State of mind 1 & 2’ ‘Memory Lane’ and the awesome ‘Nas is like’ into the equation this registers as a negative. We hit the best track of the album midway when Nas is joined by the suspect Peter Gunz sound-a-like Neshawn. Both emcees bring nice verses over a very chilling beat made up of drum rolls and choir wails. While Newshawn proves he can shine Nas gives us the best verse on the album when he becomes a prison cell, while it’s a clever idea it could have been more subliminal in what Nas was relating to and not so obvious in his verse. It seems the 3 track hat trick is completed with ‘Shoot em up’, the Havoc produced beat is nice and although Nas’s lyrics portray negativity you can’t complain its straight up dope!
Could Nas have got more commercial than some of the crap that was on ‘I am’? yes he could. While emcees like Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z could pull off commercial sounding tracks with a level of credibility, Nas just struggles. Take the Timbaland produced ‘You owe me’ which features Ginuwine, the beat is terrible and Nas just makes you cringe. He can regain some of that cred with the new version of ‘Project window’ with Ron Isley, this is an example of how Nas can vividly depict scenarios over a softer sounding backdrop. ‘Africa’ is sampled for ‘New world order’ and while it brings a level of optimism in its message there’s something just not right there. The worst track here has to be ‘Big girl’ where he resorts back to the bone like double type flow he did well on ‘Big things’ but just seems to do nothing but falter here, and yes he fucking sings again.
I took 2 weeks of repeatedly listening to this album, looking for something constructive in here, undoubtedly I found it difficult to find it. Nas has gone too far, while half this album is looking to satisfy the commercial audience not even the hardcore tracks are worthy of more than a few listens. Even the Mobb Deep and Bravehearts featured tracks (‘family’ and ‘Quiet Niggaz’ respectively) leave you wanting something more than the boring production and ignorant rhymes displayed on either track. It saddens me to see such a talented individual slip to the point of no return, who could have predicted that? Not Nas for sure.