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The Immersion: Nas Gets Crisp Like “Film”

Posted by Dharmic X on 02/21/13 | Filed under Opinion, Nas, The Immersion
Whether or not the Grammy’s want to recognize him, Nas has been and will always be one of the legends in hip-hop. “Illmatic” stands the test of time as a classic album, even some of the albums that followed it up were incredible in their own right, appreciated years later. Being that I was four years old when “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” came out, I was not privy to the conversation amongst hip-hop heads that the song was too commercial, that Nas had sold out. For me, hearing it in the context of 2007’s music, I thought it was a phenomenal record, pure and simple.

Following the release of “Untitled” in 2008, Nas kept things lowkey the following year, mainly due to the divorce proceedings with his then-wife, Kelis. He did appear periodically to drop an incredible sixteen for other artists, however. Each Nas appearance was breathtaking, a sign of what was hopefully to come soon.

The one significant inclusion to the Nas catalog in 2009 is perhaps one of the most slept-on songs he has ever made.

Red Bull held their annual Big Tune Beat Battle in 2009, and the winner was a then unknown teenager who had grown up in France and lived in Chicago. He went by the name of C-Sick. One of the big grand prizes for winning the competition was the right to collaborate on a track with Nas, and the young producer came prepared. The beat was somber yet simple, the perfect opportunity to wax introspective poetic the way only Nas can.

Nas wanted us to “see the story like film,” and he did not disappoint with the story itself. Through three verses, the Queens veteran takes us on a journey through life, interspersed with his ideas on what life should be. At one point, Nas drops a jewel in the first verse: “At times I wanna go back to being penniless, ignorance is bliss, I love being innocent.” Noting that over the years, things have changed, he raps, “OGs hate to make way for the new, young n*ggas want Polo ain’t fucking with J Crew” on the second verse.

The third verse might be the most vivid and brilliant. Nas claims that he’s “Honest, always make good on my promise, I don’t talk it I do it you can hold me to it. I was born to this life I didn’t invent it, but I’d be wrong not to take a few meal tickets.” He then compares himself to the other people around him, using the metaphor of a boxing match. “Fight in the ring or buy ringside seats. Either you like beef or you like to spectate, give me gloves and I’mma do it how the refs say. We touch em and we come out tussling. The ghetto is my Garden of Eden, So I keep bobbing and weaving.”

The song is so picturesque and so cinematic that it is a total shame that it didn’t end up on any of his albums. It might have been worth inclusion on “Life is Good,” but obviously, Nas wasn’t ready to come out with a follow-up solo album to “Untitled” for another couple of years. Meanwhile, he got to working on an album that has been heavily divisive in the hip-hop community, and one that I treasure to this day…

As for C-Sick, he disappeared for a while after this big opportunity to work with one of the greats. I guess the struggle to find a sound and to work with increasingly better artists is difficult for any young, emerging producer. Luckily for him, being in Chicago has helped him get involved in the “Drill” scene that took off with a flourish last year. Meanwhile, he also managed to work with a rapper who ended up taking off out of Maryland by the name of Logic.

But none of these songs will ever supplant the incredible track he produced for one of the game’s greats.

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