Untitled Nas album

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Untitled
Studio album by 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[edit]

Title controversy[edit]

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!"[citation needed]

Production[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Queens Get the Money"   Jay Electronica 2:12
2. "You Can't Stop Us Now" (featuring Eban Brown of The Stylistics & The Last Poets) Salaam Remi 3:05
3. "Breathe"   Dustin Moore, J. Myers 3:34
4. "Make the World Go Round" (featuring Chris Brown & The Game) Cool & Dre, The Game 3:49
5. "Hero" (featuring Keri Hilson) Polow da Don 4:00
6. "America"   Stargate 3:52
7. "Sly Fox"   stic.man 4:23
8. "Testify"   Mark Batson 2:46
9. "N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)"   DJ Toomp 4:33
10. "Untitled"   stic.man 2:51
11. "Fried Chicken" (featuring Busta Rhymes) Mark Ronson 2:50
12. "Project Roach" (featuring The Last Poets) Eric Hudson 1:48
13. "Y'all My Niggas"   J. Myers 4:16
14. "We're Not Alone" (featuring Mykel) stic.man 5:40
15. "Black President"   DJ Green Lantern 4:29
Total length:
54:04
Samples
  • "Queens Get the Money" contains samples from "Summer '78 (Instrumental)" by Yann Tiersen.
  • "You Can't Stop Us Now" contains interpolations from "Message from a Blackman" by The Whatnauts.
  • "N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)" contains samples from "We're Just Trying to Make It" by The Persuaders.
  • "Black President" contains samples from "I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto" by 2Pac and speeches from Barack Obama.

Chart history[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2008) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[36] 55
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[37] 89
Canadian Albums Chart[38] 5
French Albums (SNEP)[39] 45
Irish Albums Chart[40] 54
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[41]
[42]
35
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[43] 31
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[44] 10
UK Albums Chart[40] 23
U.S. Billboard 200[38] 1
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[38] 1
U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums[38] 1

Chart procession and succession[edit]

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[edit]

Release history[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gold & Platinum. RIAA. Retrieved November 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Shaheem Reid (October 13, 2007). Nas Reveals Controversial Title Of New LP At NYC Gig MTV News. Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  3. ^ Hillary Crosley (October 15, 2007). Nas Selects N-Word For New Album Title Billboard. Retrieved October 15, 2007.
  4. ^ Nas Issues Statement Regarding 'N****r' Name Change
  5. ^ Black widow (October 5, 2007). Update: Universal Told To Change The Title Of Nas' 'N-Word' Album Or Lose $84 Million Six Shot. Retrieved April 20, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Shaheem Reid (October 22, 2007). L.A. Reid Stands 'Firmly Behind' Nas Over LP Title MTV News. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
  7. ^ Mixtape Monday: Nas Drops Exclusive New Lyrics; Snoop Dogg Insists He Can Out-Sing Diddy
  8. ^ AllHipHop.com Interview with Melle Mel about Nigger title on YouTube
  9. ^ Shaheem Reid (November 1, 2007). Nas' Album Title Gets Support From Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Bishop Lamont, LL Cool J, GZA, Reverend Run, David Banner MTV News. Retrieved November 1, 2007.
  10. ^ Shaheem Reid (October 18, 2007). Nas Explains Controversial Album Title, Denies Reports Of Label Opposition MTV. Retrieved October 21, 2008.
  11. ^ Edwin Ortiz (2009-12-27). "DJ Premier Talks Rejected Beats, Recreating Illmatic Line-Up | Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News, & Rap Music News". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  12. ^ Shaheem Reid (May 14, 2008). Nas Previews Controversial Album For MTV News: 'I'm Here To Rap About What I Feel' MTV News. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  13. ^ DJ Green Lantern & Nas - The Nigger Tape. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  14. ^ Fila Provide Financial Support For Nas' "Untitled" "Nas has signed a one year endorsement deal with South Korea’s largest sportswear manufacturing company, Fila." Urban Lookout. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
  15. ^ Crosley, Hillary (2008-06-27). "Tough issues go beyond words for rapper Nas". Billboard. Retrieved 2008-07-05. [dead link]
  16. ^ Nas' Defjam Page For "Hero"
  17. ^ "The Game Announces Next Single Of "untiled"".
  18. ^ "Behind the scenes of "Make The World Go Round" video shoot" on YouTube
  19. ^ 25 november 2008 (2008-11-25). "Nas — Y'all My Niggas (Official Video)". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  20. ^ Kellman, Andy. Review: Untitled Nas album. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  21. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Untitled Nas album". MSN Music: August 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27.
  22. ^ a b Greenwald, Andy. Review: Untitled Nas album. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  23. ^ a b Gill, Andy. Review: Untitled Nas album. The Independent. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  24. ^ Caramanica, Jon. Review: Untitled Nas album. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  25. ^ Cohen, Ian. Review: Untitled Nas album. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  26. ^ a b Rosen, Jody. Review: Untitled Nas album. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  27. ^ a b Newlin, Jimmy. Review: Untitled Nas album. Slant Magazine. Retrieved on 2010-05-22.
  28. ^ Butler, Nick (July 12, 2008). "Nas - Untitled (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  29. ^ Hintz, Katie. Review: Untitled Nas album. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  30. ^ Aliya Ewing (July 23, 2008). Hip Hop Album Sales: Week Ending 7/20/08 HipHopDX. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  31. ^ Untitled Nas album (2008): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  32. ^ Columnist. "Review: Untitled Nas album". The Source: August 2008.
  33. ^ Weiss, Jeff. Review: Untitled Nas album. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  34. ^ Gardner, Elysa. Review: Untitled Nas album. USA Today. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  35. ^ [1][dead link]
  36. ^ "The ARIA Report: Issue 961 (Week Commencing 28 July 2008)" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-06-02. 
  37. ^ "Nas – NAS (UNTITLED)" (In Dutch). Ultratop.be. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  38. ^ a b c d "Nas > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". allmusic. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  39. ^ "Nas – NAS (UNTITLED)". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
  40. ^ a b Nas - Untitled - Music Charts αCharts. Retrieved September 23, 2008.
  41. ^ "Oricon Top 50 Albums" (In Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved November 1, 2013.
  42. ^ http://www.oricon.co.jp/prof/artist/17729/products/music/771850/1/
  43. ^ "Nas – NAS (UNTITLED)". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  44. ^ "Nas – NAS (UNTITLED)". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved October 8, 2013.

External links[edit]