Nas Dusts Off A Gil Scott-Heron Sample For A Nasty Look At Addiction (Audio)
Nas is an executive producer (and rhyme-writer) on the series, The Get Down. Set in the 1970s Bronx, the show looks at the earliest days of Hip-Hop music and culture, and the circumstances around its creation. While DJ’ing, MC’ing, breakin’, and graffiti are colorful forms of expression, crime, drugs, and poverty played key roles in the music and art-form as well.
For the Netflix series’ second season, Nas made a song, “Angel Dust.” Featuring a potent Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson sample from their 1978 Secrets album, Nas goes back to a nasty time in New York City and America. The song looks at phencyclidine, aka PCP, and its street name at the time. Leaving people “looking like zombies,” the drug also became known as “Sherm sticks.” This was a reference to The Jeffersons‘ actor Sherman Hemsley, and his “George Jefferson” character’s propensity to bug out, much like the drug’s users. The drug was especially popular in Hip-Hop in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nas raps: “Angels with dirty faces, angels with broken wings / The devil’s dust, PCP, invaded blood streams / People lining up to get it, ‘Fantastic’ knew how to flip it/ Illegal substances constructing, but plus addicted / Trust it and respect it, almost got me arrested / All of the time I invested in school is now of question / Child prone to violence like a dog returns to its own vomit.” The street’s disciple looks at one of the worst epidemics from the last 50 years as if he were there to witness it. Mogul Russell Simmons is among the folks within the culture who have admitted to “smoking dust.”
This song and attached chorus has been sampled for The Game and Common’s “Angel,” and onetime Nas neighbors, Royal Flush and Mic Geronimo’s collaborative track of the name. Dr. Dre affiliate Sam Sneed, who worked with The Firm, also sampled the song for his eventually released “Lady Heroin” metaphor-driven video single.
Less than one month ago, Nas appeared on Rick Ross’ “Powers That Be” track.