Thursday, June 24, 2010

Throwback Thurs: "I Was Young, I Was Surviving the Times, Waitin' For My Moment I Was Destined to Shine"

A little strange that this classic Nas track never made it on the album prior to the Greatest Hits album, released in 2007. Says Nas about the track:
"Actually, I had it done a good while ago. I forgot I had the record. It was just perfect to go with the Greatest Hits. It just came from a conversation. I needed people around to remind me of certain things that happened, so I got a lot of information from somebody that was hanging around while I was in the studio. It's crazy, because when I talk about people from a whole other rap era, I don't know if people understand how much that meant to me, just coming up around legends like Kool G Rap and Eric B and Large Professor and people like Akinyele who was around in the early stages that I met through Large Professor from a rap group named Main Source that most cats today never even heard of."
I feel like this track was extremely appropriate given the context of Hip Hop and the stages it has went through. Nas touches on the feeling of disconnect that a lot of different generations have with the previous style/generation and how he deeply revered the lyricists he grew up watching...the artists who shaped the type of rapper he became. He also vents on the track about how he was spurned by Def Jam and signed with Columbia Records to craft one of the truly classic Hip Hop albums in Illmatic. Music aside, I believe in two saying that although cliche, are also a reason why artists and people gain respect in life.
1. If you forget where you came from, you're never gonna get to where you're goin'
2. Respect those who came before you because they probably know more than you and can teach you a few things
And that's what Nas did, he respected who he learned from and created his own path based on the skills he learned, never losing track of his QB roots. Sidebar: I've got a lot of sympathy for Nas man, he went through hell with that Kelis divorce, having to now pay $51,000 in child support PER MONTH...seriously Kelis? Last I heard you had a paying job?

Even better, the intro takes a classic sample by Nipsey Russell from The Wiz, a classic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. Extremely fitting for the context that Nas uses this sample, wondering "What he would do to survive the times". Gotta love the soul from the sample, not many Hip Hop artists can pull off a jazzy sample like this. Check the original...

Like everything else this week, I'm going to related this back to Drake because if you read the fine print on the inside of his CD, he makes a point on the start of the second page to thank Nasir Jones for "inspiring my whole mindset on this album (Thank Me Later)".
This ties into the whole respect for the elders and let's be honest, it's hard to find a more mature artist than Drake at the age of 23. Brings to mind a verse off his track You Know You Know, which didn't make the cut to Thank Me Later. Drake says:
Why has every woman never dined her before?
Am I the only 23 year old wine connoisseur?
The Rothschild’s, the Cru’s, the ‘Caias and the Opuses [wine brands]
Its always nice when youre out with someone that notices
Not too much of a surprise Drizzy managed to sell 462,989 in the first week, which was only 13k away from Blueprint 3. While those who predicted a million in the first week are disappointed, he's still #1 by a LOT this week and if the hype couldn't have been any bigger, so he was a victim of expectations. Thank Me Later review to follow in the next week...

Anyways, went on some crazy tangents there, but still you can't discount the way that the truly great artists are great in part because they respect the game and the pioneers who beat the path they are able to freely walk down now. Cheers Nas, you were one of those and this is definitely one of my top 5 favorite songs of yours.

Give it a listen...

Nas - Surviving the Times
| Download


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