Nas needs your help, y'all. He's looking high and low for his lost comic book heroes on "Where are They Now”. He's offering $2.00 and not much else on any information concerning their whereabouts. Seriously, though, Nas goes in like the FBI trying to reclaim the people responsible for inspiring his sharp rhymes. Talk about respecting your elders, Nas posts Wanted signs all over this track with its chopped horn blasts, and whining guitar. The drums will have your neck craning from the onset but someone might want to tell Nas he needs to take better care of this beat; health-wise, the beat sounds like a schizophrenic with ADD. - Rodney Dugue


If Hip-Hop is dead, then God's Son is trying to pull a Lazarus with "Black Republicans”. On the highly anticipated collaboration, Nas and Jay-Z trade verses over thunderous drums and triumphant horns. The former bitter rivals assume opposing roles of a Black Republican and Black militant. Each stance could subtly document their current positions in their musical careers- Jay as an overly criticized Head of State and Nas as an unpredictable, by-any-means visionary. Regardless of views, both ultimately agree on not turning their back on the hood. And with this monumental meeting of the minds, they obviously can't turn their backs on Hip-Hop. - Mike Brown


The good doctor, Dr. Dre whips his switchblade and slices up these violin strings until they sound little more than a hollow high-frequency. The beat rides up and down like the life-line of a cancer patient. Nas sounds extra tough on here, schooling young (and forgetful listeners) that he has had a history with the West Coast outside just deep smoking sessions with that potent California weed. The Game sounds like a giddy kid in the porn store, trying to calm himself down; the Game comes off hard professing his love for Nas and everything East Coast. After listening to the record, you get the feeling Dr. was either bamboozled or blind-folded in producing this track (don't they have beef?). Oh, well. The game is fucked up like that. - Rodney Dugue


Beware all DJs, Nas is angry and armed. From the looks of it, he doesn't want to negotiate, either. In Nas' bible, preservation of the culture = persecution of culprits. Soon enough you DJs are going to be Dead Jockeys, what happened to Budha Nas? Either Nas is crazy or he's been hanging out with Moses a little too much, but he's been pretty adamant about his prophetic message that hip hop is dead. And maybe for good reason. Nas delivers on the title track and first single to his latest album, bringing his knowledge and defibrillator to resuscitate Hip Hop. He sounds crisp with conviction as he hovers high over this recycled beat (remember "Thief's Theme'?). Don't get in Nas' way or you might just become like Hip Hop – dead. - Rodney Dugue


Leave it to the eccentric will.I.am. to reach back beyond a 90's, 80's, 70's, and even 1960's hit to sample. Over Nat King Cole's 1951 hit, "Unforgettable”, and subtle record scratches layered on top, Esco spits syrupy nostalgia and provides a tempting escape from today's materialistic rap scene. On the hook, up-and-coming songstress, Chrisette Michele's voice is nubile with its jazzy cadences and a nascent voice reminiscent of Billie Holiday. As always Nas has been doing a lot more than just rap, these days; he's been thinking, documenting and secretly cradling the past with lines about Robert Horry hitting game-winning shots. Nas gives a lesson on history, life and being able to "put on a straw hat” when the time is right i.e. when you grow old and undesirable. Just in time for the winter snowfall, Nas brings out the shovels early looking to clear the way for his arrival. - Rodney Dugue