Sage Wisdom

by

comment

Some artists you're supposed to hear. Others are to be felt. Nas falls into the latter category.

Nas' 1995 debut, Illmatic, earned such critical acclaim that he was knighted one of hip hop's greatest emcees. He was canonized and charged with the responsibility of resurrecting East Coast hip hop. His label gave up creative control of the second album, that Saint Nas' will be done. It was good, but disappointingly materialistic and self-righteous. While displaying flashes of brilliance, Nas grounded himself in ego.

The reason for the history? Nas' third effort, I Am … , has been highly anticipated. He has proclaimed a return to the streets. Fans are excited. But here's a thought: Felons return to the street. Nas is a sage, and sages maintain wise and experienced perspectives of their environment. Sages offer thoughts that shape the mentality of people from similar backgrounds and educate outsiders seeking understanding. Nas has a responsibility to do more than return.

Tracks like "We Will Survive" lend the most personal and touching testimony any rapper has offered to the late Notorious B.I.G. and the late Tupac Shakur ("2Pacalypse. I understand ya style, nigga."). Nas redeems himself of unworthy materialistic meandering by attempting "to talk to the mayor, to the governor, to the muthaphukkin' president. I wanna talk to the FBI, and the CIA, and the muthaphukkin' congressmen."

What keeps I Am … from achieving a level of authenticity comparable to the bliss of Illmatic is Nas' lingering urge to fondle fads. "Big Things" is a wack exercise in the Midwestern slow-beat-fast-rap style. And sampling R. Kelly's "When a Woman's Fed Up" on "K-I-S-S-I-N-G," while the crooner's song is still on the charts, is a buck-toothed bite.

I Am … falls somewhere between the first and second albums. Worth the buy, but keep the fast-forward button cocked.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.