It’s debut season. Canadian rapper and producer NAV has released his first official mixtape after quietly becoming one of hip hop’s most elusive and mysterious artists. Seriously, I didn’t even know what he looked like until the “beibs in the trap” video came out. That song however is what really pushed him onto a lot of peoples radars. It’s a banger. If you’re big into the rap scene though, you would have heard of NAV from a Drake cosign, or possibly his track “Up,” which is also on the self titled tape.
Drugs, cash, women, questionable lyrics, hot beats, and more drugs is what this tape is built of – also known as the bare necessities.
This seemed like as good of a place to start as any. You get to learn some of NAV’s tastes in this department. Which apparently ranges from addys, Xanys, lean & more. This would explain why he and Travis were such a good combo on “beibs.” Because they live in a drug induced ride of a world; and they love it. Artists have different ways to talk about their habits, and NAV is pretty straight forward about it. While yes, it can get old if that’s all you talk about, the music matches well with the subject matter and this project has some good tracks you could get wild to.
NAV also can have a pass for this. Considering Future dropped two albums this week that in total equaled over 30 songs, and we know that every track was basically “cash cash / you’ll never get your bitch back / lean lean / codeine codeine / Fuck you Russel Wilson / Syrup.”
NAV got his start in the game as a producer, and on this debut project he is listed as an executive producer. So that’s cool off the bat, especially since the beats are pretty solid throughout. The self titled track, in the self titled mixtape, “NAV,” is a straight trunk rattler. You could be jamming to this at Walmart and you’d instantly be flossin’ through all the aisles and grabbing your groceries with that extra confidence. Like “fuck yeah, I want these Danimals,” and no one could hate on you for it. Another strong effort in this department is “Interlude.” A dreamy wave that creates a nice change of pace.
If there’s a sound NAV is going for, he’s found it. There’s solid production throughout and it adds to the trip inside his lifestyle he’s giving us. Heavy bass, sparkly synths, and hi-hats leave their mark on this debut. The new artist needs to tread carefully with his formula though, as succumbing to a reoccurring sound won’t get NAV very far.
The easiest way to do this is to basically just show you the contrast on the project:
- “I’ll prolly keep on fuckin’ bitches ’till I’m 49” – Good for It. I can’t help but think NAV is selling himself short here. Viagra is a hell of a drug, man.
- “These pussies actin’ like a toilet, wanna take my shit” – Good for It. 12 year old me doesn’t even think that’s dope.
- “Like I work for Best Buy / I got them tablets” – Lonely. Not bad, but not great either. Mediocre drug pun.
- “You say you wanna fuck all of my niggas / You read my mind” – My Mind. Smh. Is that really what you want NAV?
- “Remember these bitches ain’t wanna fuck / Now she give me head outside of Toys R Us” – Up. Haha, dopest line on the dopest hook. NAV still shops at Toys R Us. Respect.
- “Now I don’t pay nothin’ for my sneakers cause I’m NAV” – NAV. Boss moves. This line is fun. I support it.
So yeah, NAV might not always say the brightest things. But sometimes his wit is witty enough to be clever – and that’s pretty decent, for the most part. You know, when he’s not saying cringey things. There’s also times where he gets a little personal and adds some nice emotion. It’s a give and take effort. Sometimes a little more take than give. It’s clear that NAV is really not the type of guy who’s going to command your attention or be a beautiful storyteller. He’s gonna say some dope and catchy things here and there and that’s okay.
Cash, Women, and More Drugs
…NAV needs to expand his subject matter. While he has clearly found a niche in being a new age drug rapper, I don’t really want to hear about your balls on some girl’s face. It’s a little too misogynistic, especially in the way he sells it. Which isn’t so well. This kind of content actually does sell in a mass market though, so he’s tapped into the market he wants and needs. We’ll see if NAV can grow from here.
All in all, this tape alright. It’s dope at times. But this is a certain kind of dope; it’s like the song you’re kind of embarrassed to like, but when no one is around you bump that shit like you’ll never hear another song again. NAV is full of that content. But hey, if you like something, fuck it. Play it loud and proud. While I may dig a few of the songs here, I’m not blind enough to coin this as being elite. Nor am I sure NAV will ever be elite. As a producer? Maybe. For now, you can start by getting turnt to his debut below.