Friday, March 04, 2011

90's Hit Parade #83

Nas - New York State of Mind

The first time around, in the mid-90's, I was unimpressed by a lot of the...let's call it the "late golden age" of rap. Nas, Biggie, Tupac, The Chronic...none of that stuff really did much for me. I guess I was still hung up on the sound of hip hop c. 1987-1992 (roughly), when the beats were fast and hard and the rappers were all trying to cram as many syllables into as small a space as possible. When the hardcore punk sound died out around 1985, I was ready for it to go, it being such a limited genre, but in 1994, I just hadn't had enough of this particular hip hop sound yet. I'll have a few opportunities to talk about this phenomenon as our countdown continues, but basically, I didn't develop an appreciation for a lot of late 90's hip hop until the following decade. I was, as they say, a "backpacker."

In the case of Nas, part of it might be tha the raps so fast and effortlessly that it doesn't even register. With the golden age rappers, they push themselves so hard you can hear them sweat. Nas was one of the first in a new line of MC's for whom casual confidence was the currency. But he was also ridiculously skilled. On "New York State of Mind," he fits so many words into each line that you have to listen to it several times to even begin to hear the words.


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3/06/2011 10:14 AM  

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