Sunday, August 14, 2011

Emcee of the Month: Nas

This is "Book of Rhymes" from Nas' 2002 album God's Son.

For me, this has been one of Nas' most intriguing and curious tracks.

For starters it's an impressively simple concept, one that I haven't encountered before. And I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time an emcee has recorded a song that explicitly highlights aspects of his or her creative process. Considering most rappers obsession with their images of personal strength, worth, and infallibility, this cut is rather revolutionary. Nas risks exposing imperfections in his work (Imperfections are occupational hazards for emcees.) to offer the listener an insiders look into how the music takes shape.

And it's quite a look. The spectrum of topics and imagery is unexpectedly dizzying, covering thoughts on aging, conflicts with the philosophies of Gandhi, disconnections between images of luxury and realities of poverty, and even jealousy towards his own infant daughter. Many times I find it difficult to keep up with this track due to the distance Nas travels in such a short space of time. He's able to reveal a remarkable amount of thoughtfulness and complexity without ever seeming sporadic or contradictory.

This cat is nice, homie. Enjoy.


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