The ever-audacious Nas has released the album that his record company shelved. Done in classic mix-tape fashion (i.e. full of uncleared samples) with DJ Green Lantern, "The Nigger Tape" is crass, uneven, and exhilarating. For the first time in years, Nas sounds hungry; he ranges around the beats like some half-crazed stalker trying to get a bead on his prey. He succeeds for the most part, thanks in no small part to Green Lantern's glitchy, ecstatic production, but there are certainly some missteps. The bizarre ode to Mike Tyson calls into question whether or not Nas has his finger on the pulse of relevancy, and the nearly 9-minute "Nas Timeline" feels like the desperate boasting of a rapper who knows he made his best album 14 years ago.

Still, there is something charming about the utter brashness of this project, and though it's nowhere near the quality of "Illmatic" (or even "Stillmatic" for that matter), it's nice to know that Nasir Jones is still angry. What "The Nigger Tape" lacks in musical and lyrical prowess it makes up for in Nas' continued exploration of thematic elements mostly left alone by today's flossed-and-glossed radio rappers.

Download "The Nigger Tape" here.

No comments: