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Untitled (Nas album)

 

Untitled (Nas album)

Untitled
Nas
Released July 11, 2008 (2008-07-11)
Genre Hip hop
Length 54:04
Label Def Jam, Columbia, The Jones Experience
Producer Nasir Jones (exec.), Antonio "L.A." Reid (exec.), A. Saleh (exec.), Cool & Dre, DJ Green Lantern, DJ Toomp, Dustin Moore, Eric Hudson, J. Myers, Jay Electronica, Mark Batson, Mark Ronson, Polow da Don, Salaam Remi, Stargate, stic.man
Nas chronology

Hip Hop Is Dead
(2006)
Untitled
(2008)
Distant Relatives
(2010)
Singles from the untitled album
  1. "Hero"
    Released: June 23, 2008
  2. "Make the World Go Round"
    Released: October 9, 2008

The untitled ninth studio album by American rapper Nas was released by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records on July 15, 2008 in the United States, with earlier dates in some other countries. Its original title—Nigger—was changed due to controversy surrounding the racial epithet. The album is distinguished for its political content, diverse sources of production and provocative subject matter.

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, Nas' Fifth to do so. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), for shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States.[1] Upon its release, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics; it holds an aggregate score of 71/100 from Metacritic.

Background

Title controversy

The original title of the album—Nigger—was mentioned by Nas several times, as well as on an October 12, 2007, performance at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City where he announced the title and release date.[2] Def Jam made no comment on the title.[3] This was similar to attempts to name his 2006 album—eventually titled Hip Hop Is Dead—both Nigga and Hip Hop Is Dead... The N. On May 19, 2008, it was confirmed that Nas changed the name of the album to an untitled one (although on iTunes, the album is self-titled), stating that "the people will always know what the real title of this album is and what to call it."[4] The cover of the album shows the back of a shirtless Nas with flagellation scars forming the shape of the letter N, a reference to the racial slur and how slaves were tortured. Fort Greene, Brooklyn assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries requested New York's Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to withdraw $84 million from the state pension fund that has been invested into Universal and its parent company, Vivendi, if the album's title was not changed.[5]

L.A. Reid, chairman of Def Jam, has confirmed that Def Jam fully backed Nas and his decision on naming his album.[6] The album's original title received support from Ice Cube, Jay-Z, Bishop Lamont, Alicia Keys, LL Cool J, Rev Run, Common, Akon, Method Man, Lupe Fiasco, David Banner, GZA, and Melle Mel.[7][8][9] The title Nigger came under fire from 50 Cent, Will Smith, Al Sharpton, Bill O'Reilly, Oprah Winfrey, Reverend Jesse Jackson and the NAACP.[6][10] In a July interview with Angie Martinez, a hostess of the New York radio station Hot 97, Nas made a statement on the government's concern about the original album title: "Somebody called L.A. [Reid] [About the former title of forthcoming album], the White House called!... Yeah the 'White House', 'White House'!... I mean Congress... [called Def Jam], they're concerned!"

Production

Production credits for the album include stic.man of Dead Prez, DJ Green Lantern, Polow da Don, Salaam Remi, DJ Toomp, Stargate, Cool & Dre, Game, Mark Ronson, Mark Batson, Jay Electronica, J. Myers, Dustin Moore, Calvin McDaniel and Eric Hudson. Early reports of production mentioned that No I.D., DJ Khalil, Jermaine Dupri, Chris Webber and The Hitmen were contributing tracks, but their tracks failed to make the final cut for the album. DJ Premier stated in a recent interview with HipHopDX that he sent in a beat for Nas that Nas did not end up using on this album.[11]

Guest artists featured on the album are Busta Rhymes, Keri Hilson, Game, Chris Brown,[12] The Last Poets, Eban Thomas, Mulatto and Mykel. Although Jay Electronica produced the introductory track, he does not have a verse on the album, as previously stated by Nas.

Release and promotion

Nas released a mixtape with DJ Green Lantern titled The Nigger Tape on June 9, 2008.[13] The mixtape, which was released through NasIndependenceDay.com, features three songs that were later included on the album, as well as various unreleased tracks. In July 2008, it was announced that apparel company Fila will be providing financial support for the album's marketing for one year. In exchange, Nas will wear Fila sneakers at his shows.[14]

Singles

Prior to the release of the untitled album, Nas released a music video for "Be a Nigger Too", a song rumored to be the first single. In late June, Nas told Billboard magazine that "Be a Nigger Too" would not even be on the album because of sample clearance issues.[15] During the same week, Nas released "Hero", the album's first official single.[16] The song features a chorus sung by Keri Hilson, a beat produced by Polow da Don and lyrics about the music industry's stranglehold on artistry. The Game announced on BET's 106 & Park that "Make the World Go Round" is the next single of the album, which was debuted in November 2008.[17][18] Nas has also released videos for "Sly Fox" and "Y'all My Niggas",[19] however he does not appear in either of them.

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[20]
Robert Christgau (A-)[21]
Entertainment Weekly (B+)[22]
The Independent 5/5 stars[23]
The New York Times (mixed)[24]
Pitchfork Media (3.8/10)[25]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[26]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[27]
Sputnikmusic (2.5/5)[28]
The Village Voice (favorable)[29]

Commercial performance

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album charts selling 187,078 copies in the first week of release.[30]

Critical response

Upon its release, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics, based on an aggregate score of 71/100 from Metacritic.[31] Entertainment Weekly credited the album for its maturity as well as the album's ability to keep the listeners guessing. Andy Greenwald credits Nas, saying "In a summer of "Lollipop", it's good to hear a complicated record that doesn't shy from grown-up ambition."[22] The album received a 4.5 mic rating from The Source magazine.[32] The Independent's Andy Gill gave it 5 out of 5 stars and described it as "probably the most politically oriented rap album since the days of Public Enemy and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy".[23] In contrast, Los Angeles Times writer Jeff Weiss gave the album 2 out of 4 stars and wrote unfavorably of Nas's lyrics, perceiving his themes as hypocritical and inconsistent.[33]

Despite calling its production "sporadically successful and widely uneven", Slant Magazine's Jimmy Newlin gave the album 3½ out of 5 stars and commended Nas's lyricism, calling its lyrics "all terrific".[27] Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone gave the album 4 out of 5 stars and called it a "sprawling, furious, deeply ambivalent theme album about institutional racism, the failures of black leadership and the pathologies and promise of early-21st-century African-American life".[26] USA Today's Elysa Gardner gave it 3 out of 4 stars and wrote "Nas reconfirms his status as one of rap’s most deft, thoughtful rhymers and his knack for trenchant, defiant commentary".[34] On December 3, it was announced that the album had been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, but it ended up losing to Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III (2008).[35]

Track listing

# Title Producer(s) Samples and notes Time
1 "Queens Get the Money" Jay Electronica
  • Contains samples from "Summer '78 (Instrumental)" as performed by Yann Tiersen
2:12
2 "You Can't Stop Us Now" (featuring Eban Brown of The Stylistics & The Last Poets) Salaam Remi
  • Contains Interpolations from "Message from a Blackman" by The Whatnauts
  • Horns: Vincent Henry and Bruce Purse
  • Additional vocals: Bruce Purse
3:05
3 "Breathe" Dustin Moore & J. Myers[36]
  • Guitars: J. Myers and Dustin Moore
  • Additional vocals: J. Myers and Dustin Moore
3:34
4 "Make the World Go Round" (featuring Chris Brown & The Game) Cool & Dre, The Game
  • Strings: Eddie "Crack Keys" Montilla
  • Guitar: Kevin Mayer
  • Bass guitar: Thomas Hatcher
  • All other instruments: Cool & Dre
3:49
5 "Hero" (featuring Keri Hilson) Polow da Don
  • Additional keys: Brian Kennedy and Jason Perry
4:00
6 "America" Stargate
  • Additional vocals: Flo Simpson
  • All instruments: Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen
3:52
7 "Sly Fox" stic.man of Dead Prez
  • Rock and bass guitar: 01
  • Fox News diss
4:23
8 "Testify" Mark Batson 2:46
9 "N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)" DJ Toomp
  • Contains samples from "We're Just Trying to Make It" by The Persuaders
  • Bass: J-Mac
  • Strings: The Idalia String Ensemble
  • Keys: Toomp
  • Production Coordination: Keke and Amy
4:33
10 "Untitled" stic.man of Dead Prez
  • Additional vocals: stic.man of Dead Prez
2:51
11 "Fried Chicken" (featuring Busta Rhymes) Mark Ronson 2:50
12 "Project Roach" (featuring The Last Poets) Eric Hudson
  • All instruments: Eric Hudson
1:48
13 "Y'all My Niggas" J. Myers
  • All instruments: J. Myers and
4:16
14 "We're Not Alone" (featuring Mykel) stic.man of Dead Prez
  • Additional keys: Mikuak Rai
5:40
15 "Black President" DJ Green Lantern 4:29
16* "Like Me" (UK/iTunes bonus track) DJ Green Lantern
  • Additional vocals: Anthony Wilson and Dwayne Collins
  • Commentary: Larry White
3:47
17* "Proclamation" (iTunes pre-order bonus track) 0:59

Chart history

Chart positions

Chart (2008) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[39] 55
Canadian Albums Chart[40] 5
Irish Albums Chart[41] 54
UK Albums Chart[41] 23
U.S. Billboard 200[40] 1
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[40] 1
U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums[40] 1

Chart procession and succession

Preceded by
Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne
U.S. Billboard 200 number-one album
August 2–9, 2008
Succeeded by
Breakout by Miley Cyrus

Personnel

Release history

Region Date
Germany July 11, 2008
Ireland
France July 14, 2008
United Kingdom
United States July 15, 2008

References

External links

  • Discogs
  • Metacritic
  • About.com
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