Breaking Atoms

For bedroom demagogues and armchair fans.

A lot of people have been underwhelmed by Nas’ recent output. I’ll leave my personal feelings about his career for another day (in a word: conflicted), but on ‘Daughters’, with a cadence that borders on awkward and a rhyme pattern that doesn’t really warrant closer inspection, Nas sounds compelling again.

You don’t have to know why Destiny Jones was being written about by frothy-mouthed, basement-dwelling rap bloggers to hear the regret in Nas’ voice as he details his failures as a father and his wish to do right by his kid. It’s the same soulful, introspective tone that instantly hooks anyone listening to Illmatic for the first time. It seems fitting that the rapper who seemed unbelievably wise beyond his years as a teenager back in 1994 seems to be catching up with himself now, as he approaches 40. Richer, wiser, but still figuring out how to react to the world around him.