Some people may question my taste because of that but I argue that being able to separate the rhyme from the beat or the beat from the rhyme and the ability to judge each on their own merit is a gift that many people only wish they could employ as easily as I do.
Which brings me back to NaS...
Normally Mr. Nasir Jones is one of those rappers who keeps me focused on his lyrics. Not because he is the single most engaging lyricist ever but because he is notorious for having less than stellar production-picking skills.
His song N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master) is deep, but again the beat doesn't move me. Same deal for his song Hero. And before I get lambasted for my opinion, yes, I have given thought to the possibility that NaS didn't record these songs with the nightclub in mind. But I have also cannot ignore his track record and that even when he does record a song with the nightclub in mind, it is a disaster (in terms of the message and many times just from the sheer corniness of it all). So personally I prefer the NaS over weak production because at least he's saying something.
So imagine my surprise when, after seeing that a new song by NaS leaked, I listened to Black President and heard NaS spitting truth over a very dope beat created by DJ Green Lantern.
From the very beginning -- after we hear Barack Obama's voice during his speech a couple of week's back in St. Paul, Minn. (which is also echoed at various points throughout the song) -- NaS holds nothing back over the uptempo track, fully complemented with military-style drums, imperial horns, and thumping bass, all with a 2Pac vocal sample on the hook over an elegant piano.
"They forgot us on the blockThroughout the song we hear Barack Obama chant "Change the world!"
Got us in the box
How violent are these cops?
They need an early retirement
How many rallies will I watch?
I ain't got it in me to march
I got a semi to spark
The game's in a drought
Public housing, projects
Cooking up in the Pyrex
My set, my click
Either getting money
Or running from homicide trial
That's if they ain't died yet
Trying to be rich
Still I'm pledging allegiance
A predicate felon, a ghetto leader
Lending my poetical genius
To whoever may need it
I bleed this from Queensbridge
Now living with my feet up
So a president's needed
Y'know these colored folks and Negroes
Hate to see one of their own succeeding
America, suprise us
And let a black man guide us"
That verse is just the first of three equally crazy verses. When NaS puts everything in historical perspective with a line about past presidents including Thomas Jefferson (the notorious presidential adulterer with his slave), as well as how white folks might react if Obama does indeed win November's general election. It's brilliant.
Don't make a mistake and front on NaS like I have been known to do, check it out.
NaS: Black President (Prod by Green Lantern)
BONUS: Nas & DJ Green Lantern: The Nigger Mixtape