I wish this album felt more like its final track, Hope. Instead, it sounds like that tired uncle at the cookout who rehashes the same stories about how he used to be that nigga back in ‘86. So even though You Can’t Kill Me is an example of fire storytelling, it’s just another track from Nas about betrayal, a staid theme he’s been rehashing since his debut: (the undeniably great) illmatic. After like 10 albums with songs about friends betraying friends for money, the writer’s lack of creativity has reduced his once great insight to cliché. Carry On Tradition is an uncreative fingerwagging at black youth’s alleged crabbinabucket mentality and shames them for not knowing the hip hop almanac by heart. Womp womp, boo hoo. I wish a tongue-in-cheek lamentation on the death of hip-hop would be more inspired and like, you know, original?
What about the rest of the tracks? Can’t Forget About You is an alternate version of Where Are They Now that isn’t bitter. Blunt Ashes is a quaint reflection on life, music and smoking weed. I guess? On the real, if you want to listen to Nas, I’d recommend illmatic or Stillmatic, albums made when his work had a clear pulse.
Play on Playa and Hope are the only redeeming tracks on this album, though honorable mention is due for Still Dreaming and Let There Be Light.
In short: skip this. You deserve better.