Hip-Hop Is Dead

Hip-Hop Is Dead

For the song from this album, see Hip Hop Is Dead (song).
Hip Hop Is Dead
Released December 15, 2006
(see release history)
Recorded 2006
Genre Hip hop
Length 63:15
Label Def Jam, Columbia, The Jones Experience
Producer will.i.am, Salaam Remi, L.E.S., Wyldfyer, Kanye West, Dr. Dre, Scott Storch, Mark Batson, Stargate, Chris Webber, Devo Springsteen
Nas chronology

Street's Disciple
Hip Hop Is Dead
Singles from Hip Hop Is Dead
  1. "Hip Hop Is Dead"
    Released: November 2006
  2. "Can't Forget About You"
    Released: January 23, 2007

Hip Hop Is Dead is the eighth studio album by American rapper Nas, released December 15, 2006 on Def Jam Recordings. His first album for the label, it was co-financed by Nas's previous label, Columbia Records, which once distributed for Def Jam. The album's title was inspired by Nas's view of the music industry and the state of hip hop music at the time.

The album debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 355,880 copies in its first week. His fourth U.S. number-one album, it had sold 764,000 copies by November 2008, eventually overtime it went platinum.[1] Upon its release, Hip Hop Is Dead received generally positive reviews from most music critics. Hip Hop Is Dead was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album,[2] ultimately losing to Kanye West's Graduation at the 50th Grammy Awards[3]


Nas announced the album's title after a performance on May 18, 2006 [4][5] In a late September interview on English DJ Tim Westwood's Radio show, Nas said, "Hip-hop is dead because we as artists no longer have the power." He went on to say, "Could you imagine what 50 Cent could be doing, Nas, Jay, Eminem, if we were the Jimmy Iovines? Could you imagine the power we'd have? I think that's where we're headed." He has described the album as a mixture of "street" records, "political" records and collaborations.[6] In another interview for MTV.com, Nas discussed the concept of the album title and the social atmosphere and condition of the music industry that inspired it, stating:

When I say 'hip-hop is dead', basically America is dead. There is no political voice. Music is dead ... Our way of thinking is dead, our commerce is dead. Everything in this society has been done. It's like a slingshot, where you throw the muthafucka back and it starts losing speed and is about to fall down. That's where we are as a country ... what I mean by 'hip-hop is dead' is we're at a vulnerable state. If we don't change, we gonna disappear like Rome. I think hip-hop could help rebuild America, once hip-hoppers own hip-hop ... We are our own politicians, our own government, we have something to say.[7]

Title controversy

In an interview on the music television show 106 & Park, while promoting his untitled 2008 album, Nas said that he chose "Hip Hop Is Dead" as the title of the album in order to engender excitement and a reaction among hip hop artists. He went on to say that it worked, due to reactions from artists like Lil Wayne and Kanye West. The title had a major impact in the hip hop world, especially for Southern hip hop, whose artists have been blamed for cheapening the quality of hip-hop with crunk and snap music. Southern rapper Young Jeezy had made statements against the title of Nas' album, and also furthered his comments by questioning Nas' street credibility. They have since reconciled, with Nas appearing on Jeezy's 2008 single, "My President".[8] Many other Southern rappers such as Ludacris, Trick Daddy, and Big Boi (whose fellow Outkast member, Andre 3000, declared hip hop dead on 2001's "Funkin' Around", off Big Boi and Dre Present...Outkast) have also attacked Nas' album title claiming that it is targeted at Southern hip hop.[9] Nas also has a fair share of supporters such as fellow New York rappers KRS-One, DMX, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah.


A promo single, "Where Y'all At", was released in June 2006 and produced by Salaam Remi.[10] It contained a sample from Nas "Made You Look",[11] but it did not make the final cut for Hip Hop Is Dead.[12] It was, however, released as a bonus track on the Japanese import version of the album.[13]

A music video for "Can't Forget About You" premiered on February 5, 2007, the song featuring Chrisette Michele and sampling Nat King Cole's song "Unforgettable".[14] Another video, Hustlers, featuring The Game, followed.[15]


Commercial performance

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[16]
Robert Christgau A−[17]
Entertainment Weekly (B)[18]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[19]
The New York Times (favorable)[20]
Pitchfork Media (7.8/10)[21]
PopMatters (8/10)[22]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[23]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[24]
The Village Voice (favorable)[25]

Selling 355,880 copies in its first week, Hip Hop Is Dead joined It Was Written (1996) and I Am… (1999) as Nas's third album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart.[26] The title track "Hip Hop Is Dead" (produced by will.i.am), which contains samples from "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly, and "Apache" by Incredible Bongo Band, and Billy Squier's "The Big Beat", was the first single of the album.[27] It received airplay on radio stations in Australia (Triple J), the UK, and in United States, notably on Hot 97.[5][28] The single recently reached #48 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart[29] and #41 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single from the album Hip Hop Is Dead is "Can't Forget About You" (Featuring Chrisette Michele). It contains a sample from Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable".

Critical response

Hip Hop Is Dead received generally positive reviews from most music critics.[30] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 79, based on 22 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[30] Nas is hip-hop's "grumpiest man", according to Jody Rosen for Entertainment Weekly, and the album "is a lot like Nas himself: impossible not to admire, but hard to love".[31] Among those music writers and critics that reviewed Hip Hop Is Dead favorably was Jason Rubin of The A.V. Club, which gave the album an A- rating. Rubin praised the album's production quality and lyrical concept, and stated "Hip Hop is unsparing in its diagnosis of rap's ills, but ultimately, it's hopeful. It contains a smart, tight, cohesive analysis of where rap went astray, but also the seeds of the genre's rebirth and renewal."[32] Despite perceiving its sound and musical quality as a weaknesses, Los Angeles Times writer Soren Baker gave it 3 out of 4 stars and wrote "Nas demonstrates why he remains one of rap's most revered artists, as his defense of hip-hop culture is impassioned and informed, if not fully realized".[33] Sean Fennessey of Vibe called the album "disorienting and sometimes brilliant" and complimented its "bold, startling production and a renewed lyrical vigor".[34] The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, losing to Kanye West's Graduation (2007), at the 50th Grammy Awards in February 2008.[35]

Track listing

No. TitleProducer(s) Length
1. "Money Over Bullshit"  L.E.S., Wyldfyer 4:16
2. "You Can't Kill Me"  L.E.S., Al West 3:14
3. "Carry on Tradition"  Scott Storch 3:49
4. "Where Are They Now"  Nas, Salaam Remi 2:44
5. "Hip Hop Is Dead" (featuring will.i.am)will.i.am 3:45
6. "Who Killed It?"  Salaam Remi, will.i.am 3:10
7. "Black Republican" (featuring Jay-Z)L.E.S., Wyldfyer 3:45
8. "Not Going Back" (featuring Kelis)Stargate 4:09
9. "Still Dreaming" (featuring Kanye West & Chrisette Michele)Kanye West 3:37
10. "Hold Down the Block"  Mark Batson 3:58
11. "Blunt Ashes"  Chris Webber 4:03
12. "Let There Be Light" (featuring Tre Williams)Kanye West, Devo Springsteen*, Paul Cho* 4:28
13. "Play on Playa" (featuring Snoop Dogg)Scott Storch 3:33
14. "Can't Forget About You" (featuring Chrisette Michele)will.i.am 4:34
15. "Hustlers" (featuring Game & Marsha Ambrosius)Dr. Dre 4:06
16. "Hope" (featuring Chrisette Michele)L.E.S., Nas, Alexander "Spanador" Mosely 3:05



# Title Notes
Hip Hop Is Dead

Executive producer: Nasir Jones
A&R: Jay Brown
A&R for Ill Will Music Group: Mike Brinkley
A&R Administration: Terese Joseph
A&R Coordination: Fabienne Leys
Marketing: Tracey Waples
Marketing coordination: Shari Bryant
Management: Michael "Blue" Williams for Family Tree Entertainment
Mastering: Chris Gehringer at Sterling Sound, NYC
Mixing: Dylan "3-D" Dresdow at Paper V.U. Studios, LA
Photography: Afshin Shahidi
Creative direction: Andy West
Cover design: Tavon Sampson
Wardrobe: Mike Bogard for The B Lynn Group
Photo and art coordination: Nichell Delavaille
Package production: Doug Joswick
Legal representation: Kenny Meiselas, Esq. and Paul Rothenberg, Esq.
Sample clearance agent: Deborah Mannis-Gardner for DMG Clearances, Inc.
Business Affairs: Michael Seltzer, Antoinette Trotman, Ian Allen

1 "Money Over Bullshit"

Songwriters: N. Jones, L. Lewis, W. Coleman
All Instruments: L.E.S. & Wyldfyer

2 "You Can't Kill Me"

Songwriters: N. Jones, L. Lewis, A. West
Sample: "Sly" by Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters
All Instruments: Al West

3 "Carry on Tradition"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Storch
All Instruments: Scott Storch

4 "Where Are They Now"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Gibbs, J. Brown, B. Byrd, R. Lehnhoff
Sample: "Get Up, Get into It, Get Involved" by James Brown

5 "Hip Hop Is Dead"

Songwriters: N. Jones, W. Adams, J. Lordan, D. Ingle
Sample: "Apache" by Michael Viner & The Incredible Bongo Band
Sample: "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" by Iron Butterfly
Sample: "The Big Beat" as performed by Billy Squier
Drums, Drum Programming, Farfisa organ & Keyboards: will.i.am

6 "Who Killed It?"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Gibbs, W. Adams
Sample: "I Ain't No Joke" by Eric B & Rakim
Drums, Bass & Keys: Salaam Remi
Flute, Soprano Saxophone & Clarinet: Vincent Henry
Bass Trumpet, Flugelhorn & Trumpet: Bruce Purse
French Horn: W. Marshall Henry
Cello: Patrice Jackson
Viola: Adam Hill

7 "Black Republican"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Carter, L. Lewis, W. Coleman, C. Coppala
Sample: "Marcia Religiosa" by City of Prague Philharmonic

8 "Not Going Back"

Songwriters: N. Jones, T. Hermansen, M. Ericksen, K. Roger-Jones

9 "Still Dreaming"

Songwriters: N. Jones, K. West, C. Payne, C. Ernst-Wells
Sample: "The Interim" by Diana Ross
Sample: "Use Me" by Bill Withers

10 "Hold Down the Block"

Songwriters: N. Jones, M. Batson
Drums, Bass & Keyboards: Mark Batson
Saxophone: Leroi Moore
Vocals: Mark B. Mayfield

11 "Blunt Ashes"

Songwriters: N. Jones, M. Webber
Sample: "Mercy, Mercy Me(The Ecology)" by Marvin Gaye
All Instruments: Chris Webber

12 "Let There Be Light"

Songwriters: N. Jones, K. West, T. Williams, D. Harris, P. Cho
Sample: "Beddie Biey" by Steve Arrington
Sample: "Take The Money And Run" by Steve Miller Band
Drums: Mark Biondi
Keyboards: Paul Cho

13 "Play on Playa"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Storch, C. Broadus, M. Gaye, L. Ware, A. Ross
Sample: "After the Dance" by Marvin Gaye

14 "Can't Forget About You"

Songwriters: N. Jones, W. Adams, C. Payne, I. Gordon
Sample: "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole
Drums, Drum Programming & Keyboards: will.i.am

15 "Hustlers"

Songwriters: N. Jones, J. Taylor, M. Ambrosius, A. Young, M. Elizondo
Keyboards: Mike Elizondo
Keyboard Bass: Liomnel "LJ" Holoman

16 "Hope"

Songwriters: N. Jones, L. Lewis
Additional Vocals: Chrisette Michele

* "Shine on 'Em"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Gibbs

* "The N (Don't Hate Me Now)"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Gibbs

* "Where Y'all At"

Songwriters: N. Jones, S. Gibbs, C. Stepney, R. Rudolph
Sample: "Made You Look" by Nas
Sample: "Rainy Day in Centreville" by Minnie Riperton


Preceded by
The Inspiration by Young Jeezy
US Billboard 200 number-one album
January 6, 2007
Succeeded by
21 by Omarion

Release history

Region Date
Ireland December 15, 2006
United Kingdom December 18, 2006
United States December 19, 2006


External links

  • Nas at DefJam
  • Street's Disciple at Columbia Records
  • Column about the larger musical/cultural context that informs "Hip-Hop is Dead"
  • About.com Review of "Black Republican"
  • About.com Review of "Hip-Hop Is Dead"
  • Pitchfork Media Review of "Black Republican"
  • Hip Hop Is Dead concert review at UKEvents.net