March 22, 2013

Deen is in a New Jersey state of mind.

I’ve been trying to convince a good friend of mine that Nas is really God’s one and true son in the form of a rapper. In other words, he’s the GOAT and failing that, I hope to at least convince said friend that he’s worth listening to in bulk. As a result, we’ve taken to listening to and discussing Nas’ entire retail discography: starting with Illmatic until we hear the last track on Life Is Good. It’s an interesting exercise because I’ve always approached Nas’ discography from a Stan’s perspective and it’s a bit illuminating to see/hear the man’s music through a less enamored prism. This friend kinda admits to straight up disliking Nas, mostly because of the non-feudy feud with Tupac back in the day and a few other things, but I figured a cross-cultural exchange of sorts (well, not really because I already got over my “Tupac sucks” phase 10 years ago) would be the perfect wrinkle to freshen up my annual “Listen to Nas’ Entire Retail Discography” bonanza. Yes, I seriously do that in the first quarter of every year. Why? I don’t know. But tradition is tradition and that shit’s here to stay.

Maybe I’ll get around to transcribing some of the conversations I’ve had with my friend someday (or not), but one welcome by-product of our listening sessions are the random admissions by said friend concerning the most random Nas songs. Basically, my friend actually owns quite a few Nas songs and even likes some of them. One of those songs happens to be ‘It Wasn’t You’ – “featuring” Lauryn Hill. I put “featuring” in quotes because I’m not entirely sure about how this song came to be and I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s just a really well done blend. Initially, I was under the impression that it was a song made for the Street’s Disciple sessions that just happened to leak because it kinda sounds like the kinda shit Bobby Valentino was dropping at the time – you know, those Eastern-sounding, stringy, slinky, tabla drum ass R&B jawns. Further crack research suggests that my initial guess was probably wrong. After all, this shit leaked on a 2005 mixtape (Living Legends Chapter 1) compiled by a DJ Dirty Harry – who also claims production credits for the track.

Then there’s the question of why ANYONE would let a Lauryn Hill appearance – sample or not – go to waste, circa 2005. She was still firmly in the throes of Marley ejaculate – pause – so some shit like this must have brought the money signs out for all parties involved. Then again, Nas was still signed to Columbia Records at the time. The same label that allowed this nigga to pay Timbaland and Aaliyah for a good ass song without releasing said song as a single. Fucking ridiculous. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been viewing Nas’ career the wrong way for the last 15 years. So many missed and wasted opportunities n’shit. They coulda been performing this on that silly tour they did last year. But nope. SMH…

I take consolation in that I still get to enjoy this song – regardless of how it came to exist and be under-utilized. I mean, it features Nas in story telling mode (arguably his best incarnation) on some grown ass romantic steez. Shit, if he wasn’t traipsing around with Kelis at the time, I’d find this totally believable. Weekend/fortnight flings and affairs have happened to ordinary niggas like me, so why not Nasir? As a matter of fact, I’m beginning to think that Kelis heard this shit, got jealous that she and Nas would never make anything this good and ordered him to shelve it. Being the pussy that he was at the time (that fucking tattoo), he did that shit. Lauryn probably didn’t mind since she was probably pregnant for the umpteenth time and there’s the small matter of her being lazy as fuck – save your righteous indignation, single/stay-at-home/working mothers. I don’t care. Slander aside, Lauryn repurposing part of the lyrics from The Stylistics’ “You Are Everything” for what eventually became the hook to this shit is genius level popcraft to me. So there, I’ve said one nice thing about Lauryn Hill in 2013. We’ll try it again in a year.

So what was the point of this? Well, it’s always nice to learn about new shit, isn’t it? Especially if it’s Nas. Or especially if you don’t have to go to school to do it – or if you’re doing it while you should be doing something else at school. I don’t know your life nigga. Whatever. In any case, I’m just happy that writing this has free me from the silly self-imposed task of writing about Hit-Boy’s new mixtape/free album. I don’t wanna do that shit anymore because I’m listening to Nas again and I don’t see why I should interrupt that to write about a talented young man that lets his Kanye obsession kinda muddle the best way for him to utilize his talents. But that’s neither here nor there. I’mma listen to this Nas shit again and go see about going on a Hookah bar date while I reminisce about the misguided Indian (like dot, not feather) girl that allowed a nigga to achieve a life goal back in 2010. Have a lovely weekend…


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