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Hip Hop Is Dead
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Given its provocative title, it's no surprise that parts ofHip Hop Is Deadfeel like an elegy of sorts. Nas practically came into the game looking backwards (see "Memory Lane" offIllmatic) but he seems more nostalgic than ever with tracks like "Where Are They Now?," "Carry on Tradition," "Can't Forget About You," and the title song which all focus on rap's past. This reminiscing can only fan the dim candle fans keep lit for Nas, hopeful that he'll make a full return to his former glory. But, once again, the rapper teases and falls short. As has become habit, Nas does manage to knock out a handful of excellent songs ("Can't Forget" and "Play on Playa" for example), along with a handful of awful fare (none worse than "Who Killed It," Nas's disastrous attempt to channel the spirit of '30s gangster actor Edward G. Robinson), and a few forgettable filler songs. The production is similarly uneven though Kanye West's and Will.I.Am's contributions are reliably listenable. The biggest shortcoming is that given it's titleHip Hop Is Deadaspires to be an event album but it never delivers on that promise despite the heady symbolism of former rival Jay-Z joining him on "Black Republicans." In the end, this is another good, not great album. Hip-hop isn't dead and neither is Nas but both could use a shot of life.--Oliver Wang
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Label: Def Jam
Artist: Nas
Release Date: December 19, 2006

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