Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Nas: Hip Hop Is Dead [Def Jam, 2006]
I wouldn't take him at his word--especially when he says he's not going back to a street life there's no evidence he ever had knocked in the first place--and I doubt he knows as much as claimed about the perks of his Escobar hustle: "watchin' fly bitches with grey eyes wrestle in a tub of KY," escaping a shoot-out with his milkshake wife, etc. The fun comes easier when he fools around with the title conceit, and even sometimes when he thinks about it. Rhyming "orange" with "showin'" and "pawn it," rapping in fake Bogie, playing the "black militant" to his former adversary and current sponsor's "black Republican," naming so many lost rappers I needed a hankie (Special Ed! Tim Dog! Fu-Schnickens! Shante!), he wants us to know he's an old-school MF who can afford efficiently state-of-the-art beats. Big worry: "Can't sound smart 'cause you'll run away." What to do, what to do? A-