Nas

Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam)

Phases & Stages

Nas

Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam)

For a rapper who's spent the past dozen years failing to meet the lofty standard of his 1994 debut, Illmatic, Nas declaring Hip Hop Is Dead evades all conceivability short of a flaming Napoleon complex. "Afraid not of none of you cowards but of my own strength," the Queensbridge icon postures himself as a lyrical demigod who pities the fool out of touch with old-school paradigms. As "Where Are They Now" takes it all the way back to MC Shan, the title track revisits "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" as an Incredible Bongo Band sure shot. Freaking Eric B and Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke" into the cinematic noir of "Who Killed It," Nas joins an invigorated Snoop Dogg on "Play on Playa," a twisted, smoked-out affair scored by Marvin Gaye's "After the Dance." With Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and even Jay-Z on its guest list, Hip Hop Is Dead makes for an ample, yet ultimately morbid, party.

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