Untitled: Masterpiece, or shit sandwich?
Now that I’m assuming most people who give a shit have had a chance to listen to the new Nas album, can we agree it fucking sucks balls? Or are you stans still keeping the faith, Billy Joel-style?
Oddly enough, Nas compares himself to Billy Joel on the song “Hero.” It’s one of the main lines I’ve been seeing excerpted in reviews of the album – I think partly because it ties into the story about how he was forced to change the album’s title, but also because… seriously, what the fuck?
Did Nas really mean to compare himself to the guy who’s probably most well known for singing “Uptown Girl” (admittedly, a song that pretty accurately describes how I’ve felt about mad women over the years, the circumstances of my own upbringing notwithstanding), or was just looking for the name of a white singer whose name kinda rhymes with soul, and thought, “Hey, Billy Joel!”
Probably the latter, right?
Another hot line I’m seeing excerpted is one I excerpted in the review of the album I posted on my own site the other day, from the song “Sly Fox.” This bullshit: “The fox has a bushy tail. And Bush tells lies and fox trots, so I don’t know what’s real.” Which is good to see. It lets me know I’m not crazy or anything. Word to the guy from Five for Fighting.
One thing that hadn’t occurred to me back when I reviewed the album is how utterly pointless “Sly Fox” is, in the sense that, a) do we really need a song to tell us Fox News = bad? And b) that’s pretty much all the song is telling us. So it turns out the stans were right. I probably could have benefited from waiting for more than a mere matter of hours after the album hit the Internets to file my review.
However, reading subsequent reviews of Untitled hasn’t actually changed my opinion as to whether the album is any good. Instead, it’s only strengthened my resolve in knowing that I was right in the first place. As usual.
I was afraid this was gonna be one of those situations where I declared that a mainstream rap album is a shit sandwich, only to have seemingly every other publication known to man declare that it isn’t, thus making it seem as if I was actually wrong. Pshaw!. As it turns out though, that hasn’t been the case. No, it’s pretty much agreed upon by reputable publications that Untitled isn’t a very good album.
I consulted Metacritic, which keeps track of these kinds of things, and the two main positive reviews I could find of the album were from PopMatters and Entertainment Weekly. The one from Entertainment Weekly obviously doesn’t count. Because it’s motherfucking Entertainment Weekly. And the PopMatters review was obviously written by a hardened Nas stan. Reasons I know this is true: 1) PopMatters is one of these sites that solicits writing from any ol’ dumbass. 2) The score this guy gave the album is a full 20+ points higher than the average. 3) I conducted some research, and it turns out that, elsewhere on the site, this guy is publishing an umpteen-part series dissecting the album, just like the late, great Tom Breihan did for Tha Carter III.
Reviews of Untitled in publications where they actually check to see if you aren’t just some guy living in your mom’s basement, debating on whether to actually pay for a Brazzers password, haven’t been nearly as kind. Metacritic does this thing where they give the album a numerical score based on each review, regardless of whether or not the publication uses any kind of scale in its reviews. It’s how they come up with the average score. Metacritic has the New York Times, the LA Times and Pitchfork giving Untitled a 60, a 50, and a 38, respectively, where as that clown at PopMatters gave the album a 90.
Which sounds about right, as far as I’m concerned. The real critics, I mean. Not the PopMatters guy. Like I said, I’ve even been noticing some similarities between my own review and some of the reviews I’ve been reading of the album this week. But I’m interested in hearing you fruits’ opinions. Is Untitled really the shit sandwich these guys say it is, or are these guys full of shit? Also, just to keep things interesting, I’ll go ahead and throw this out there, all three of the reviews in reputable sources were written by white guys, and I happen to know for a fact that two of them are known Jews… (For the other one, we might need to hold some sort of HUAC-style hearing. Roffle.) Do you think that might have played a part in forming their opinion? Speak on it!