Systematic – DJ Shadow Feat. Nas

“Can’t see me but Nas is movin’ fastest, I’m a 3D movie no need of glasses”

DJ Shadow’s CV continues to become the only list that counts of who’s whoing and what they’re currently whating on my horizon.

If I’m looking outside of the Punk, Metal, Indie, Rock filter of my everyday tastes and I see someone has worked with DJ Shadow. I know I’m not going to be disappointed.

After the smash with Run The Jewels that was Nobody Speak, the man behind Entroducting and The Private Press comes fourth with another juggernaut from his album The Mountain Will Fall. This time DJ Shadow has managed to get his name on the marquee over Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones himself.

My love of Nas is well documented here. One of the things I love most about him is how his work on other peoples records (see also his standout contribution on Too Many Rappers by The Beastie Boys) is never half hearted. A Nas verse on a track steals the show. Nas over a noise maker like DJ Shadow? Sold!

Nas has made some incredible records in his time and that flow shows no sign of weakening on Systematic.

It’s odd to think we’re at this stage of the game and there isn’t already a Nas record called Systematic. It’s the most Nas sounding name for a Nas record. After Illmatic and Stillmatic it seems like a Sho-in that Systematic be in there somewhere. So props to Shadow for that also.

Over low key guitar samples and break beats Nas stutters his lines in time with the breaks and goes in on ‘The System’ and ‘The Man’ and tries to get you to ‘Feel’ what he is saying.

He’s still listing the brands he’s wearing and comparing himself to gangsters (Russian this time) and at one point English white man reggae band UB40 (oddly enough) like many a maligned Hip Hop luminary. And yet the context in which he’s doing it expresses everything from aspirations to be more and do better to twinges of buyers remorse.

This, mixed with Shadow’s old school Posh voice over samples makes for a compellign listen.

“Remember the past cherish the present and work for tomorrow, the time is now”

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