Nas Demands A Second Look At His Album With A Stunning Short Film (Video)
Released this June 15, Nas’ NASIR album is unique within his catalog. It is the legendary MC’s shortest project, clocking in at less than 27 minutes. It is also his first solo album made entirely with a single producer at the helm. For 2018, that was Kanye West, who worked extensively with Nas on an album recorded in Wyoming and Utah, along with several others. As part of that summer series of ‘Ye-produced works, Nas’ effort has been associated with some unanticipated delays in a real-time release culture, along with a drop event that brought everybody from Marley Marl to Kim Kardashian West to Queensbridge’s 41st side of Vernon.
Since June, Nas has publicly done little towards NASIR, comparatively speaking. Within two weeks of the release, the MC confirmed an upcoming project featuring heavy input from RZA and Swizz Beatz. While Nas’ DJ, Green Lantern released a remix to the Slick Rick-sampling “Cops Shot The Kid” at the end of summer, there have been no videos, and little said from Nasir Jones’ about his twelfth official solo project.
That has all changed today. Teaming with director Rohan Blair-Mangat, the MC makes a 16-minute short film companion for NASIR. He shows the art, abstraction, and imagery that he sees with this 2018 body of work. Like JAY-Z’s 2017 4:44 visual aids, Nas breaks from the traditional medium of music videos and makes something artful, visually pleasing, and at times, gut-wrenching.
The mini-movie find Nas in the moment in several varying sequences. He is on rooftops, on secluded beaches, alone in NYC parking garages with his white, kitted-up 190 Mercedes Benz sporting the Illmatic license plates. Whether stunting or in a heavier mood, it shows the range of human emotion. Reflecting on his life, Nas delivers some of his bars from church pews and police handcuffs. In one he is mourning another Black life lost. In the other, he is the latest Black male profiled by law enforcement. Footage from Nas’ early career including “Halftime” and park-bench segments in the Q.B. are sprinkled in, along with symbols from the part of New York City that birthed Nasir. Legendary MC and song muse Slick Rick makes the briefest of cameos during the “Cop Shot The Kid” sequence.
With suspense and fast cuts, the visual for the ’80s-inspired song make the moment frantic. Visually just as lyrically, the moment comments on history, especially during the making of this album. That is also true of the film’s most straightforward sequence, the visual to “everything.”
In the video, an older woman is helping raise her grandsons, and try to bring them up properly. She demands a house of tenderness as the older boy berates his brother for mistakes in his homework and spilling milk. The grandmother reminds the oldest boy that her late husband was the same way. From a New York City residence, he heads to the bodega with money she’s given him. He greets his friends on the corner and heads into the store. Moments later, out front, the line between choices and outcomes is presented. Another family suffers, and another life is compromised. Nas’ words have always been hard-hitting. He wants this film to do the same.
“Adam and Eve,” splashes of “Not For Radio” and “Simple Things” are also part of the menagerie of NASIR visuals. This month Nas released “Echo” on Swizz Beatz’ POISON album. It was recorded in 2016, during sessions for a joint effort.