Friday, September 16, 2011
Electric Relaxation: Nas "2nd Childhood"
I've been thinking about Nas' Stillmatic album all week. Not just because this week 10 years ago began the rebirth of his career when Jay-Z dropped "The Blueprint" (which I'll be blogging about sometime this month). Nas was 27 when dropped Stillmatic and on Saturday I'll be 27.
When I was 19, I bought Illmatic for the first time. Right away, I appreciated it as a classic record and even though I was already a Nas fan, it meant more to me because I was the same age he was when he wrote most of it. A few months later when I turned 20, I listened closer to "Life's a B---h", the classic duet with AZ. AZ's verse rightfully gets all of its praise but Nas' hit me closer. Peep the opener.
I woke up early on my born day, I'm twenty years of blessing
The essence of adolescent leaves my body now I'm fresh in
My physical frame is celebrated cause I made it
One quarter through life some God-ly like thing created
That was exactly how I felt turning 20. Since Illmatic hit me so close at that age, I'm curious if Stillmatic will hit me closer at 27 now that I've experienced enough to appreciate it even more.
"2nd Childhood" inspired me the first time I heard it. A classic DJ Premier beat and Nas putting on his street's reporter hat going through Queens. His first verse speaks on himself reliving his childhood then finding peace and happiness in being mature. It's a theme that comes up on the album a lot - Nas finally in a content state after chasing pop success and getting back to who he was as a person and an artist.
The next two verses see him describing two different people (31 year old man, 27 year old girl) who are still doing things they should've grown out of. It's sad hearing them because they aren't doing anything with their lives except running wild and watching life pass them by. If you're smart, you can catch the subtle digs at public education and the groupie lifestyle (the latter being something Nas spoke on with "Black Girl Lost").
I find myself going back to this song when I look at Twitter sometimes and I see folks in their 30's acting like I saw folks do in college. I assumed you grew out of that stuff but nah, they still continue in it. It confused me because I always look to older folks subconsciously for tips on what to do/what not to do as I get there. Yet, I still see some of them clinging on to acting like boys/girls instead of men/women. Real life episodes of "Baby Boy"
I love how vivid the descriptions are and it shows why Nas is the one of the best to ever pick up a pen. Primo's beat puts me in a daze and since it's a sequel to Illmatic, it gives you that same rush you feel when you hear "Memory Lane". It's almost like Nas was an old man at 20 reflecting then and now at 27, he can reflect after experiencing life.
For me, I'm realizing now that I thought I was an old man at 23. At that age, I had been to the Coliseum, the Rose Bowl, seen Kevin Love at a HS Tournament. Dodger Stadium to see Barry Bonds, USC-UCLA and in a Hollywood club watching the first Obama-Clinton debate. I was in deep as a reporter and with my then-girlfriend yet I thought I was missing life because I was working.
Now at 27, I realize I have a lot of perspective on those younger days and realize that I wasn't old at all. I can reflect and be happy. I'm not in my 2nd childhood but I can enjoy the fact that I'm gearing up for new experiences. I may not be in a totally ideal place but I'm inspired by a new chance to see life.
This is the last Nas-DJ Premier collaboration on wax (not counting "Classic"). If this is the last song the two of them make on an album, what a gem to leave us with - but please. Nas, from one Virgo to another, find a way to put Primo on "Life is Good", especially if you're in a good place again. I know y'all are fresh off tearing it down at Rock the Bells. One more song can't hurt right?