Published Jun 21, 2018Nas's latest release proved to be exceptionally poor timing, and not because of its shaky rollout, or the fact that Beyoncé and Jay-Z's surprise album as the Carters quickly overshadowed it.
Rather, in the midst of a post-Weinstein era, in light of his ex-wife's allegations of abuse, and after his collaborator Kanye West's political shenanigans, Nasir's hotepian laments come across as disingenuous.
Nas is certainly under no obligation to address his personal controversies in his music. The problem here, though, is that he tries too desperately to ignore them. It makes for an uncomfortable listen that ranges from tone-deaf to painfully hypocritical.
"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" he pleads, as he serves up random conspiracy theories ("Not For Radio"), stale luxury raps ("Bonjour") and feigned vulnerability ("everything" — the album's most cloying, desperate offering).
On its surface, Nasir is politically aware and a comfort to die-hard fans, but upon closer inspection, the album exposes itself as hollow and eerily manipulative. He's trying to play us.
Although its brighter moments ("Adam and Eve," "Cops Shot the Kid") save it from being a complete fall from grace, overall Nasir is disappointingly heedless. Hopefully his next effort is more honest. (Mass Appeal)