Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Tony Grands
Nas is rap music’s Rocky Balboa. Even when it seems like he’s getting beat, he’s still standing, receiving the punishment yet not going down. He’s undoubtedly Hip Hop’s man of the hour, & for a guy who is older than most of his competition, he’s in a real good spot right now.
At Nas’ record release party last week, him & Jay-Z were captured on film in what looked to be a couple of grizzled veterans sharing expensive laughs about the good old days. This made me wonder, “How long before the rumors of a possible Nas & Jay-Z album begin circling the rap-o-sphere?”
Why not get them started right here?
A Jay & Nas album would be monstrous & possibly bigger than Watch The Throne (Jay’s album with Kanye West) on a critically acclaimed level. Jay-Z is still the wordsmith he once was, just older & more multi-tasked, while Nas is slowly but surely reaffirming his spot as one of the genre’s highest regarded lyricists. A (super)group album would be a logical move for the rappers, a gracious offering to their devoted fans, & a steaming hot pot of bullshit for the haters to feast on.
I doubt this will ever come to fruition, but who knows. Stranger things have happened in rap music than two rivals joining forces. & if they need some encouragement, here a 5 reason why Jay-Z & Nas should do an album together.
5. Nothing To Lose
For what it’s worth, these two rappers have outlasted their contemporaries. The volume of their respective careers (even beyond just rapping on records) & catalogs (a combined 21 albums) put them light years ahead of MC’s that have been in the business just as long.
Both men have gone through trails & tribulation, both foreign & domestic, financial & personal. When the smoked cleared, they both stood, slightly wounded, but standing nonetheless. The only thing they can possibly lose by recording together is time. & that’s only if the outcome is bad. Otherwise, it’s a win-win for all parties involved, especially the fans & listeners.
4. Old Man Rap Isn’t Dead
Rap music is a young man’s sport, by virtue. Youth is what propels the narratives & stories about ignorance & ridiculous behavior, almost as an excuse for it. That’s what makes rap music so great. But a collaborative effort between the two top tier 30-something elder statesmen would ensure that Hip Hop’s more mature audience is still a viable one. Skinny jeans & face tattoos may be the uniform of today’s rap crowd, but that doesn’t mean Hip Hop’s adult sect is invisible. We outchea!
3. Settle The “Who Won?” Argument
The argument of who won between Nas & Jay-Z will be one that stands the test of time. This topic will never become weary or dated because the collective community seems to be split down the middle as to who the true victor was/is. Those who appreciate concise word dispersal vote Nas, while those who adhere more to reality rhymes claim Jay-Z to be victorious. That debate could easily get snuffed with 14 tracks of these ex-rivals tag-teaming music for an entire album.
Admittedly it could get boring & dissuade the listener who doesn’t already have a personal interest in either MC, but for the love of Hip Hop culture & rap music at large, a Nas/Jay-Z album would be historic & decisive.
2. Jay-Z Would Be Forced To Rap
Over the last 5-6 years, Jay has become more than just a rapper. Say what you will, but he has his hands across many tables, & only a fool would think that being the #1 rapper is high on his “to do” list. Fans of Jigga Man often complain that -over the years – he’s become complacent in his wealth & success. In fact, those same voices were out again with the release of Watch The Throne, saying all he rapped about was wealth & material prosperity. An album with Nasir would change all that.
If for nothing else than the respect of his peers & contemporaries, Jay-Z would have no choice but to write each rhyme like his rap life depended on it. Sure, he can pimp his restaurants & arenas & what not, but it’s hard to fool Hip Hop. Knowing that he’s doing an album with Nas should push him over the proverbial verbal top, even if only momentarily.
According to the ‘Net, that’s what his fans have been waiting for. His performance on Rick Ross’ “3 Kings” is an indicator that he still has “it,” whatever that means.
1. Set An Example Of Respect In The Rap Community
“Rap Beef” wasn’t always a dangerous thing. There was a time when a personal problem between rappers would result in a war of the words, & nothing more. While those days are apparently gone, Nas Vs. Jay-Z was the last real MC battle where it was taken to the studios & no further. Even as the tension increased with Jay-Z bringing Nas’ family into the music (condoms on the baby’s car seat), it didn’t escalate.
Years later, the two emerge as joint title holders of the sport with an odd, respect-layered friendship. & nobody was hurt in the process. Rap can get wild at times & maybe the leadership it lacks could be found in this imaginary record.
Words by Tony Grands