Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008

Nas

Tonight @ the Rave - 8 p.m.

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Given Nas’ inability to explain on his previous album exactly why hip-hop was dead, the media understandably greeted Nas’ latest album, originally titled Nigger, with great skepticism. Against the odds, though, the rapper created a piece of art that proves that its controversial original title wasn’t just a publicity stunt. From start to finish, the decidedly non-commercial album (which ironically peaked at the top of the charts) is filled with thoughtful (though often ambiguous) ruminations on racial identity. It’s fitting that Nas promotes his most cerebral album in years by sharing a tour with Talib Kweli, long the thinking man’s rapper of choice. In recent years, Kweli has found a comfortable balance between his status as one of the underground rap scene’s favorite conscious rappers and one of mainstream rap’s long-shot stars, releasing slick, guest-laden albums like Eardrum for the masses, and no-frills, beats-and-rhymes discs like Liberation on a smaller scale for his backpack rapper contingent.