Tuesday, July 29, 2008

No Critical Consensus on Nas' N-Word Album

By Evan Rytlewski
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It shouldn't be too surprising that Nas' untitled/N-word album has proved polarizing, but still, it's worth noting just how far over the map these reviews reach. HipHopSite, a reliable but often underrated source for rap opinions, crowned it with five stars out of five, and PopMatters raved over it, but on the other end of the spectrum, Pitchfork savaged it, and TinyMixTapes spat on it with a brutal one-star review.

I can't help but wonder how much the more critical reviews were driven by disgust for Nas' attempts to christen the disc with the N-word. Nas has the nasty habit of giving his album's needlessly contentious names—a strategy that clearly drums up free publicity, but does him no critical favors, given his difficult justifying these album titles. So a critical backlash was probably inevitable—and frankly, deserved, given Nas' exploitative marketing techniques—but strip his last two discs of their silly controversies and you're still left with two phenomenal albums. Don't let the negative reviews dissuade you from hearing this one.

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