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Untitled
Studio album by Nas
Released July 11, 2008 (2008-07-11)
(see release history)
Recorded 2007–2008
Genre Hip hop
Length 54:04
Label Island 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 Untitled
  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 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. It is Nas' fourth album to debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 album charts. The album received generally positive reviews from music critics, based on an aggregate score of 71/100 from Metacritic. It has been certified Gold in the U.S. by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[1]

Contents

Background

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Title controversy

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, 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!"[11]

Promotion

Nas released a mixtape with DJ Green Lantern titled The Nigger Tape on June 9, 2008.[12] 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.[13]

Music

Production

Production credits for the album include stic.man of Dead Prez, DJ Green Lantern, Polow da Don, Salaam Remi, DJ Toomp, Stargate, Cool & Dre, The 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.[14]

Guest artists featured on the album are Busta Rhymes, Keri Hilson, The Game, Chris Brown,[15] 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.

Singles

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.[16] During the same week, Nas released "Hero", the album's first official single.[17] 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.[18][19] Nas has also released videos for "Sly Fox" and "Y'all My Niggas",[20] however he does not appear in either of them.

Reception

 Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[21]
Robert Christgau (A-)[22]
Entertainment Weekly (B+)[23]
The Independent 5/5 stars[24]
New York Times (mixed)[25]
Pitchfork Media (3.8/10)[26]
PopMatters (9/10)[27]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[28]
The Source 4.5/5 stars[29]
Village Voice (favorable)[30]

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 album charts selling 187,078 copies in the first week of release.[31] By April 25, 2009, the album had sold 549,898 copies in the United States,[citation needed] and it has been certified gold in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album also did moderately well in other countries, charting in Ireland, Canada, and the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

Upon its release, the album received generally positive reviews from most music critics, based on an aggregate score of 71/100 from Metacritic.[32] 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."[23] The album received a 4.5 mic rating from The Source magazine.[29] 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] However, 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".[28] 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

# Title Producer(s) Samples and notes Time
1 "Queens Get the Money" Jay Electronica 2:12
2 "You Can't Stop Us Now" (feat. Eban Thomas of The Stylistics & The Last Poets) Salaam Remi
  • Contains Interpolations from "Message from a Blackman" by The Whatnauts
  • Horns: Vincent Henry and Bruce Purse
  • Additional vocals: Bruce Purse
3:05
3 "Breathe" Sons of Light - Dustin Moore & J. Myers [36] 3:34
4 "Make the World Go Round" (feat. Chris Brown & The Game) Cool & Dre, The Game
  • Strings: Eddie "Crack Keys" Montilla
  • Guitar: Kevin Mayer
  • Bass guitar: Thomas Hatcher
  • All other instruments: Cool & Dre
3:49
5 "Hero" (feat. Keri Hilson) Polow da Don
  • Additional keys: Brian Kennedy and Jason Perry
4:00
6 "America" Stargate
  • Additional vocals: Flo Simpson
  • All instruments: Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen
3:52
7 "Sly Fox" stic.man of Dead Prez
  • Rock and bass guitar: 01
  • Fox News diss
4:23
8 "Testify" Mark Batson 2:46
9 "N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave and the Master)" DJ Toomp
  • Contains samples from "We're Just Trying to Make It" by The Persuaders
  • Bass: J-Mac
  • Strings: The Idalia String Ensemble
  • Keys: Toomp
  • Production Coordination: Keke and Amy
4:33
10 "Untitled" stic.man of dead prez
  • Additional vocals: stic.man of Dead Prez
2:51
11 "Fried Chicken" (feat. Busta Rhymes) Mark Ronson 2:50
12 "Project Roach" (feat. The Last Poets) Eric Hudson
  • All instruments: Eric Hudson
1:48
13 "Y'all My Niggas" J. Myers 4:16
14 "We're Not Alone" (feat. Mykel) stic.man of Dead Prez
  • Additional keys: Mikuak Rai
5:40
15 "Black President" DJ Green Lantern 4:29
16* "Like Me" (UK/iTunes bonus track) DJ Green Lantern
  • Additional vocals: Anthony Wilson and Dwayne Collins
  • Commentary: Larry White
3:47
17* "Proclamation" (iTunes pre-order bonus track) *Accapella* 0:59

Personnel

  • Executive Producers: Nasir Jones, Antonio "L.A." Reid, A. Saleh
  • Mastering: Chris Gehringer
  • A&R Administration: Terese Joseph
  • A&R for Emagen Entertainment Group, Inc: A. Saleh
  • A&R Coordination: Leesa D. Brunson
  • A&R for Def Jam: Shakir Stewart
  • Marketing: Shari Bryant
  • Management: N. Jones and A. Saleh for The Jones Group, Inc.
  • Legal Representation: Kenny Meiselas ESQ, Paul Rothenberg ESQ.
  • Art Direction & Design: Tavon Sampson
  • Cover photography: Mieeno Peluce
  • Cover Illustration & Design: Tavon Sampson & Eric Altenburger
  • Package Production: Carol Corless
  • Sample Clearance Agent: Deborah Mannis-Gardner for DMG Clearances, Inc.
  • Business Affairs: Michael Seltzer, Antoinette Trotman, Ian Allen
  • All Booklet Images Courtesy of Corbis and Getty Images

Chart history

Chart positions

Chart (2008) Peak
position
Canadian Albums Chart[39] 5
Irish Albums Chart[40] 54
UK Albums Chart[40] 23
U.S. Billboard 200[39] 1
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[39] 1
U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums[39] 1

Chart procession and succession

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

Release history

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

References

  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
  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. ^ Angie Martinez Interview With Nas
  12. ^ DJ Green Lantern & Nas - The Nigger Tape. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 01.07.09   (2009-12-27). "DJ Premier Talks Rejected Beats, Recreating Illmatic Line-Up | Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News, & Rap Music News". HipHopDX. http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.8364/title.dj-premier-talks-rejected-beats-recreating-illmatic-line-up. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Crosley, Hillary (2008-06-27). "Tough issues go beyond words for rapper Nas". Billboard. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/27/AR2008062703869.html. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  17. ^ Nas' Defjam Page For "Hero"
  18. ^ "The Game Announces Next Single Of "untiled"".
  19. ^ "Behind the scenes of "Make The World Go Round" video shoot"
  20. ^ 25 november 2008 (2008-11-25). "Nas — Y'all My Niggas (Official Video)". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-mNjh2y_rM. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  21. ^ Kellman, Andy. Review: Untitled Nas album. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  22. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide: Untitled Nas album". MSN Music: August 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-27.
  23. ^ a b Greenwald, Andy. Review: Untitled Nas album. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  24. ^ Gill, Andy. Review: Untitled Nas album. The Independent. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  25. ^ Caramanica, Jon. Review: Untitled Nas album. The New York Times. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  26. ^ Cohen, Ian. Review: Untitled Nas album. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  27. ^ Henriques, Anthony. Review: Untitled Nas album. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  28. ^ a b Rosen, Jody. Review: Untitled Nas album. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  29. ^ a b Columnist. "Review: Untitled Nas album". The Source: August 2008.
  30. ^ Hintz, Katie. Review: Untitled Nas album. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  31. ^ Aliya Ewing (July 23, 2008). Hip Hop Album Sales: Week Ending 7/20/08 HipHopDX. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  32. ^ Untitled Nas album (2008): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-10-27.
  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]
  36. ^ 06.28.08   (2009-12-27). "Production And Features Revealed For Nas' Untitled LP | Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News, & Rap Music News". HipHopDX. http://www.hiphopdx.com/index/news/id.7216. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  37. ^ Posted by 21-7 Magazine. "21-7 Magazine: Blog: Mulatto & Nas!". 21-7magazine.blogspot.com. http://21-7magazine.blogspot.com/2008/07/mulatto-nas.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  38. ^ "Mulatto". Hottwaddle.com. http://www.hottwaddle.com/Mulatto.html. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  39. ^ a b c d "Nas > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:djfrxztjldfe~T3. Retrieved 2008-08-14. 
  40. ^ a b Nas - Untitled - Music Charts αCharts. Retrieved September 23, 2008.

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