I’ve been following, with some interest, this series of Kanye-produced, seven-track-long albums, as the author of books about both Kanye and Nas, but I’ve yet to hear either the Kanye or Nas albums.
I did have a look at the Pusha T album, having heard that it’s Actually Good, and that there’s a Drake dis song on it, and wouldn’t you know, it’s not half bad. I like both the beats and the rhymes, and I’m pretty sure it benefited from being less than half an hour long, as all albums should be from here on out. (If you’re a rapper, you don’t have an hour’s worth of interesting things to say, by definition.)
Since then, I’ve revisited Pusha T’s catalog, to see if I’d been sleeping on him all this time. Nullus. Turns out I didn’t miss anything. The one Pusha T solo album that I listened to, My Name Is My Name, was lame, and Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury remains only intermittently interesting, despite having received XXL’s (not really) coveted XXL rating. Maybe two months after that album was released, then-XXL editor in chief Elliott Wilson admitted to me that it wasn’t really a classic. I think he let some of the CACs who worked there sell him a bill of goods.
For what it’s worth, I’m sure Pusha T’s albums are better than Drake’s albums.
I thought about listening to the Kanye album the day it came out, for rubbernecking purposes, but it had yet to be added to the streaming service I use, Google Play Music. I prefer Google Play Music to other streaming services because it pays artists less and you can use the bundled YouTube Red to stream all sorts of things that aren’t otherwise available on streaming. I didn’t bother with ye once it finally did pop up, because I didn’t really give a shit. I can’t tell you that I’d heard more than half of Kanye’s albums when I wrote a book about him (or since, for that matter). It’s just not my thing.
So I knew better than to bother with the Nas album last night—I wouldn’t have been able to hear enough of it, from the livestream, to write about it, and who knows when it’ll be added to my streaming service of choice. The rest of the seven-track-long Kanye-produced albums all popped up on streaming services at different times, and the Cudi album hadn’t been tagged correctly. It may have been uploaded by the same guy who thought Hot 97 brought Pimp C out at Summer Jam.
There ended up being a problem with the livestream anyway. According to a number of would-be social media influencers that I follow on Twitter, who live-tweeted the livestream (ahem), the feed cut out right after Nas announced that Escobar season had returned. This almost seemed like it could be an elaborate practical joke, because why would Nas purposely say or do anything to remind us of his late ‘90s-era output, or anything he’s done in his entire life other than Illmatic? (No, I didn’t forget It Was Written, as much as I’d like to.)
Nas had already shown up late to his own album release party, which was held underneath a bridge in Queens, as if it were a crackhead orgy. He probably got drunk and forgot he had somewhere to be. It’s not like he releases albums very often. NASIR is his first album in six years, which makes you wonder why he couldn’t have come up with more than seven songs in six years. That’s only a little more than one song per year! Are these the only songs he’s recorded? When DJ Khaled announced that Nas’ album was done, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the same album as this one.
I feel like the real story of this album-release cycle, and Nas’ career in general, is that he’s a colossal drunk who doesn’t know what he’s doing half the time. Hence, presumably, his beat-selection. He might not even be aware that he has other albums lying around somewhere. The other day, TMZ or someone posted video of Nas in a nightclub in Las Vegas having what can only be described as an Eddie King, Jr., moment, sans sequin jumpsuit. He reportedly left after 10 minutes, after trying and failing to spit the lyrics to “It Ain’t Hard to Tell.”
Admittedly, if I do end up listening to NASIR this evening, I’ll probably be drunker than a mofo—but only because it’s a Friday, which is the most convenient time to get wasted for those of us who work for a living. As Ordell Robbie would say, I get high at night, when I get done with my business.
Take it easy on yourself,