Today in Hip Hop History: December 19th, 2006
Hip Hop is Dead by Nas
Today in hip hop history marks the nine year anniversary to the release of Hip Hop is Dead by Nas. A living legend, this was Nasir Jones’ eighth studio album on Def Jam Recordings while also being co-financed by Columbia Records. Hip Hop Is Dead debuted at the number one spot on Billboard’s top 200 selling over 350,000 copies within its first week.
Attaining platinum, the album received a plethora of positive reviews and was nominated a Grammy for Best Rap Album. While Hip Hop Is Dead is a great album marking at an average of 79 on Metacritic, many critics agree that with any Nas release comes a “disclaimer: Hip Hop Is Dead is not Illmatic. Nothing ever will be.”
Releasing a legendary album like Illmatic comes with its pitfalls. The bar was set high during the start of his career, and will always remain that high. That doesn’t mean Nas makes terrible albums, however. Moving over to a new record label means a new team. With names like Scott Storch, will.i.am, and Kanye West as producers, Nas wastes no time and delivers at a high capacity.
Although the delivery was at a caliber that we’d expect from Nas, that doesn’t distract from its pitfalls nor does it from its controversial name. At the time, Nas wanted to push the idea that Hip Hop wasn’t dead, rather that it lost its touch of being one with the community and culture that it started from. Hip Hop was no longer tales of hard life and struggle, but rather fairy tales and dreams of a lavish life style that one would only wish to accomplish yet never have.
Hip Hop since has met a middle ground and has become a more well received genre across the public eye. Whether it was a cultural shift amongst us all or if the genre developed into a genre with more complexity and depth is something that we can’t quite determine yet.
For more on Hip Hop and its highs and lows of history, keep reading on at TrueToo