I present to you the bizarro “D.O.A.”
This is not a radio song, with “verses” chopped down to eight bars and passed around, Roots-like relentless drumming flooding the space such that it’s fairly difficult to listen to it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not good. And Nasir’s first verse is a masterwork.
I have carte blanche
Nas is a narcissist
My pockets, a roll ton
I’m no killer
But compared to you I’m more realer
You ain’t a shotta, mobster, or a drug dealer
A slug peeler you’re not, mafioso, no
You ain’t got the cutthroat in ya
I ain’t tryna hear your racket
You work with police dog, you snitch, you rat
You wear that jacket
I’m not entirely sure he knows what he’s saying at the beginning of the verse, but he’s sort of right.
At this point in his career, having written hip-hop’s epitaph, and with by far the best pop song of his life ignored on a politically-minded album, Nas is fully Jim Brown mode, saying all the stuff he likes and not giving two craps what anyone else thinks. In that way, he is a narcissistic vagabond with the carte blanche to, instead of spitting sixteens on mixtapes or gunning for radio like Hov/Slaughterhouse/Kanye/Wayne do, experiment with the Beasties and Damian Marley.
And the rest of the verse is gritty, aging don talk, and sonically superior, long vowels arcing out and punchlines hammering home. It’s economy of thought and space that make this a nugget worth remembering.