I hadn’t realized that late-90s pop-R&B producers Stargate—responsible for such classics as “S Club Party” and Brandy’s version of “Another Day in Paradise”—were still in business. Actually, they’ve been keeping quite busy, but I only noticed when they turned up on Nas’s new album, producing anti-American anthem “America.” Not what I would have immediately expected from them, but you can hear a hint of S Club in the production.
I do think my “hip-hop is dead” theory gains some support from the move from S Club to Nas via Rihanna and Beyoncé (two great tracks I hadn’t realized were Stargate productions). The rest of the Nas album doesn’t so much, although I’m so attached to the “Harry Connick Jr of gangsta rap” punchline I’m unlikely to let it be refuted by any mere empirical evidence.Nas’s “Untitled” is great, and, unlike Jay-Z’s last album, not just because it’s a kind of parallel-universe greatest hits. I guess it’s largely familiar territory for Nas, which is not entirely a bad thing of course, but it moves in a few different directions: the stic.man tracks, two of which (“Sly Fox,” “Louis Farrakhan”) are great, and the other one is awful (as is the way with stic.man, it seems), and “Hero,” which probably fits into the post-hip-hop genre, what ever that ends up being, that I was trying to identify in my previous post, in part because of its relation to various forms of dance music.
The beat’s great, especially the drums. Which brings me to maybe another angle on what hip-hop is mutating into, inspired partly by comments on the previous post and partly by seeing Soulja Boy on MTV this morning. With the main-streaming of club music, is hip-hop in something like the position hardcore was in the early 90s? And if so, who are the Urban Cookie Collective of hip-hop?