It's not uncommon to hear the words "hip-hop is dead" -- or some variation of it, at least -- uttered by many a longtime rap purist. Nas himself famously uttered the decisive statement on his 2006 album Hip-Hop Is Dead, which feels wild in hindsight given how many amazing artists arrived shortly thereafter. Still, that was how he was feeling at the time, and he made sure to air his grievances in the blistering title track.
Following the tradition of grimy singles like "Got Yourself A Gun" and "Made You Look," the Will-i-Am produced track provides Nas with an aggressive backdrop to vent. The second verse paints an incredible picture of his origin story, which dates back to the pre-Illmatic days. "The bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin' / come through, something ill, missing the ceilin'," he spits. "What influenced my raps? Stick-ups and killings / Kidnappings, project buildings, drug dealings."
Though he recently claimed that hip-hop actually faked its death in 2007 on "EPMD 2," his conviction on "Hip-Hop Is Dead" is exactly why the legendary rapper remains a revered member of the rap pantheon. Revisit this classic single now, and sound off if you think this album is a certified classic.
The bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin'
Come through, something ill, missing the ceilin'
What influenced my raps? Stick-ups and killings
Kidnappings, project buildings, drug dealings