Swizz Beatz Got Nas’ Best Verse Of 2018 & He Treats It Like Fine Art
In a year where Nas released an album, many fans maintain that his greatest vocal display came in the form of a feature verse. Since his 1991 Main Source debut, Nas has never been too possessive to not splash another artist’s track with some of his best rhymes. Over the years this has included spots on LPs by Raekwon, Fat Joe, and Scarface. This year, Nas stole the show on Swizz Beatz’ “Echo.” The song, produced by DJ Scratch, is a highlight from a benchmark LP under Swizzy’s belt, POISON.
The song finds Nas in a nostalgic mood. He travels back to the 1980s New York City that raised him. The legendary MC is generous with imagery and conviction as he recalls a tense relationship with the NYPD, a colorful Times Square playground, and over-developed classmates that occupied his mind and time. He opens with, “Throwin’ piss out the window at police / Chasin’ ni**as with warrants, there was never no peace / Judy’s ass was enormous, I was fresh indeed / Think about her sexually, I knew a bunch of Radio Raheems / Rest in peace / Four finger rings, big as brass knuckles / Haters walk by, try to stab you if they hug you / Lady on the fourth floor hollering every evening / ‘Til she planned up, wasn’t having it that evening / He was beating her, she ain’t have it that evening / One shot to the neck and the jugular, now he bleeding / She beat the case, but damn the kid suffer / I’m dating a daughter, but I’m having visions of a mother / Project nights, no project lights / Hopin’ a friend don’t try to rob my mom at night / She work hard to bring it to the table / Channel U before we had cable Campbell’s soup before I had sushi / Viker shoe before I had the Gucci / Forty0deuce for the karate movie / Out of sync mouth movin’ movie/ Sent to the store for a loosie / Came a long way, now the same ones salute me.”
Although the beat belongs to Scratch (who recently reunited with his Flipmode Squad cohorts), Swizz rivals Flavor Flav, Dr. Dre, and Puff Daddy in his ability to enhance a song’s vibe through vocals that are anything but background. When he talks that talk, it sounds great.
The video is shot at MORI Building Digital Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan. Swizz and Nas walk through several exhibits and show their art in beautiful color, with backgrounds that truly are museum-worthy. There are diverse sets that involve captivating uses of light, color, and surface. The song about a place that many would dismiss as “grimy and gritty” (to use Kool G Rap’s words) looks luxurious, lavish, and rightfully artful in this backdrop.
Following The Carters’ “APESH*T” visual (shot in Paris’ The Louvre) from summertime, this is the latest Rap video to find its home at an exclusive art exhibit.
Nas and Swizz Beatz are reportedly at work on an album (which they started in 2016) that will be Nas’ follow-up to this summer’s Nasir. The Queens, New York MC has stated that Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA is also involved.
POISON features Kendrick Lamar, The LOX, Pusha-T, and Lil Wayne.