Fourth quarter starters

Nas & Jay, Ghostface, and Jeezy bring December heat
By JESS MCCONNELL  |  January 28, 2010


Ghostface Killah

It’s become one of those odd traditions without rhyme or reason (or at least without reason) that December, a month that never used to be a big time for big releases, is now a hip-hop time of year almost every year. It’s as if big rappers on big labels were waiting to drop discs just in time for New Year’s Eve. Maybe it has something to do with taxes? In any case, here’s a sampling of singles from three of the month’s more notable releases on the rap powerhouse Def Jam, all easily accessible at www.itunes.com.

Nas feat. Jay-Z, “Black Republicans”
Not long ago some kind of war between Nas and Jay-Z seemed a foregone conclusion. But there have since been vague reconciliations, mumblings of mutual respect, and guest appearances, and the two East Coast stars have managed to get together “Black Republican,” a politicized track from Nas’s new Hip Hop Is Dead (Def Jam). The track is jiggly and stately and overflowing with urgent rhymes. Nas isn’t afraid to paint himself as the fighting radical; the more diplomatic Jay raps in hypotheticals, merely alluding to the issues.

Ghostface Killah feat. Redman and Shawn Wigs, “Greedy Bitches”
From his second disc in a year, More Fish (Def Jam), the most active Wu-Tang member has food and fanny on the brain. This is a guy who can rap about anything — “Yo the ’hos at all the oreos.” Don’t question it, just love it and picture the video-game spinoff where Ghostface has to walk the streets collecting cookies as greedy bitches attack from all sides.

Young Jeezy, “I Luv It”
Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy’s in the business of promoting Red Bull — “Can’t sleep on life,” he points out — and focusing on the big things like “My P.O. telling me I need a 9 to 5/But I already got a job, and that's stayin’ alive” on his new Def Jam disc The Inspiration . This feel-good track (produced by DJ Toomp, who creates a synth-heavy, spaced-out backdrop), offers a nice contrast to Jeezy’s raspy delivery and his flowery appreciation of the good things in life.

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