From the Vault...


"I Am"

© Columbia Records

Year of Release: 1999

track listing
  • Album Intro
  • N.Y. State Of Mind Pt. II
  • Hate Me Now
  • Small World
  • Favor For A Favor
  • Ghetto Prisoners
  • You Won't
    See Me Tonight
  • I Want To Talk To You
  • Dr. Knockboot
  • Life Is What You Make It
  • Big Things
  • Nas Is Like
  • K-I-SS-I-N-G
  • Money Is My Bitch
  • Undying Love

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    "I Am"

    Nas (Nasir Jones); [pronounced Naaz] -- is a Rap artist. His 1996 release, (which reached #1 on the Billboard Album charts) -- It Was Written was, surpringsly, an album I was quite impressed with. Nas is one of those rappers with a message; as most rappers relate their real-life experiences, and in most cases, contained such stories of being poor, exposed to violence, and sexual harsh overtones.

    As impressed as I was with It Was Written, I cannot say the same for I Am. Sure, the messages are there, but for the most part, it was not just the stories told on It Was Written, it was the music that also made the impressions. Some were catchy, some used references to other well-known songs.

    True, the music and sampling are here on I Am, but what gets to me (as well as other music listeners who are not necessarily fans of Rap), is the use of vulgar language. (How many times do we have to hear the term "mutha f**ka" on "I Want To Talk To You" ?) The storyline is of violence, even bringing this up to the White House, as the lyrics read. (Nice to see the lyrics are listed in the CD booklet.)

    Another question is how can songs such as these (with the vulgar lyrics) get airplay on radio? Obviously they can't, due to the nature of the words ("mutha f**ka" probably wouldn't go so well with commonday listeners). As most rappers want to make their points in how they relate, their lyrics will most likely never be appreciated on regular radio. Of course, there's Internet Radio -- where there are actual stations that allow such vulgarity in song lyrics that are played. But for most audiences, they can and will refuse to listen to such shows that feature this kind of music. And in such, if any show that plays a mix -- where they play songs that are enjoyed, yet a few vulgar rap tunes get played in the mix, the audience just may walk away from that kind of shows too.

    A more important question: Why is it, that Rap albums are released at the record stores as "Parental Advisory" versions? Sure, there are "clean" versions of these Rap albums, but why aren't BOTH the parental advisory and clean versions available? It seems the vulgar releases are the only albums available at the store, and maybe (just maybe), the clean version are available. The parental advisory versoins will sell more, is my guess. Radio stations will get the clean versions, and with the clean versions, maybe Rap music just wouldn't be as annoying and bad as everyone claims it to be. (Akon's song "I Wanna Love You" is a perfect example. Way back when, another group, Bone Thugs-N-Harony released an "adult" version of "Tha Crossroads." The "clean" version was the most popular, and a "clean" version of the album E. 1999 Eternal was released.)

    But as for Nas, his messages are quite clear -- His graphically detailed life "in the hood" on "New York State Of Mind Part 2"(Part 1 was from his debut release, Illmatic. "We Will Survive" is a dedication to fallen rap stars Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls (Notorious B.I.G.). This tune also samples the song "This Is It" by Kenny Loggins, especially their line "We'd always survive."

    There aren't many major highlights, compared to It Was Written -- from that particular album, tracks such as "Street Dreams" (similar to Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams"), and my personal favorite "If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)" are easily enjoyable. But on "I Am" the highlights are slim -- the music on "Nas Is Like" has somewhat potential. "Favor For A Favor" sounds more of an Eminem production.

    Nas' It Was Written is far better than I Am. For true rap fans, I'm sure they enjoy I Am far better than myself. Nas did have help from other fellow rappers on I Am -- Puff Daddy, Scarface, Aaliyah, and DMX. Nas has had 4 of his albums reach #1: It was Written was his first, I Am his second. Hip Hop Is Dead became his third, his fourth was Untitled. As of the year 2011, he has released ten albums.

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