In American poetics today hiphop still has the intersection of the boulevard and the native tongue on lockdown. What's made Nas's use of that tongue so powerful is his intellect and his armor-plated gravitas. Not that he can't say some silly sheet like all the rest, but his cerebral temperament saturates his vocal tone with the sound of a man who's thinking even when he'd rather not be. This was once true of his whole generation of New York MCs, but somewhere or another they got lost to the streets or the streets lost interest in them or they couldn't hang on when hiphop went supadupapop, and other than Jay-Z no one from NY hiphop's golden age, DOA w/Big, has proved so adept at juggling credibility, careerism, industry bullsheet, and the kind of hiphop where the words are the hooks, the thing that keeps singing on in our head after the music's stopped.... More >>>