Album: Nas <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

Hip-Hop is Dead, DEF JAM
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The Independent Culture

Every rapper, it seems, eventually reaches the stage when they start looking back fondly at the genre's more innocent origins, when hip-hop really did serve as some kind of urban bush telegraph, rather than just as the audio segment of some turf war. Nas is the latest: on Hip-Hop Is Dead, he casts a jaundiced eye over the current state of the scene, fuming over a culture in which "heinous crimes help record sales more than creative rhymes", and celebrating the pioneering rap stars, now dead or forgotten, who originally spread hip-hop's addictive virus. In "Carry On Tradition", he compares the way that "the Jewish stick together" with the petty jealousies and back-biting now so much a part of hip-hop, while "Blunt Ashes" finds him surveying the shortcomings and treacheries of previous generations of R&B stars. Clearly, a sense of historical perspective is becoming increasingly important for serious rappers; though probably not as important as the sticker advertising the guest participants - which in this case include Jay-Z, Kanye West, Snoop Dogg and Nas's wife Kelis.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Hold Down The Block', 'Where Are They Now', 'Carry On Tradition'