Kanye West gave fans a spirited preview of his “New God Flow” with Pusha T at Sunday’s BET Award. The hard-charging record echoes a bygone era where raps were delivered with vitriol and crafted with boom-bap sensibilities. But West and Pusha T have company, as Nas and Rick Ross get into the flow of throw-back street rap with new songs of their own.
Kanye and Pusha T’s “New God Flow” roars with an sample of Ghosface‘s “Mighty Healthy” from 2000 and makes a sly reference to rap and beef in Diddy’s heyday.
“I came aborad for more than just to rhyme with him/ Think of ’99 when Puff would have had Shyne with him,” he raps.
Pusha offers another nod to 90s rap fans when he shows off an echo flow that calls to mind Nice & Smooth’s performance on Gangstarr’s classic 1990s posse cut, “DWYCK.”
“Step on they neck till they can’t breath (breath) / Claim they five stars but sell you dreams (dreams)…”
Kanye shines a light on former Kanye, with his reference to “Jesus Walks” by again mentioning Jesus in the rap. But he also baptizes the record with a polished version of his College Dropout self. His usual flat voice illuminates the track with wordplay and cadence switches that would stand agains any “golden era” MC.
Listen to New God Flow here.
While “New God Flow” has blanketed the internet with reactions from fans for its teeth-clinching rhymes, Rick Ross took a turn for the dark with his new “Hold Me Back” song, from his forthcoming God Forgives, I Don’t.
Sonically, Ross plays it safe with his G5-produced new single. But whereas his two previous singles, “Touch ‘N You” and “So Sophisticated” offered an upscale pinky-out version of Ross’ high life, “Hold Me Back” speaks from the mind of an ambitious hustler, occupying the same space as his breakthrough 2006 record, “Hustlin’.”
Ross doesn’t go back to the ’90s, but after showing his big teddy bear charm for “Touch ‘N You,” he returns to the inspirational street tales.
“His repetitive chorus intimidates and affirms with an agressive refrain: “No these n****s won’t hold me back/ these n****s won’t hold me back…/ These h*s won’t hold me back…”
Listen to Ross’ “Hold Me Back” here.
Meanwhile, Nas rumbles underground with “Loco-Motive.” Unapologetic and blatantly yester-year, Nas recruited Large Professor, who famously produced three records on his classic debut Illmatic. With its train sound effect open, plodding base line, and throwback drum kicks, “Loco-Motion” feels like it fell of the subway car that transported Illmatic all those years ago.
True to the what’s-old-is-new ethos, Nas’ sound was intentional here. After the rapping is done, he speaks. “I’m here y’all,” he says. “For my trapped in the ’90s n****s. This is for y’all.”
He recently revealed to CBS Local his pre-millennium musical strategy.
“I knew for a while before I started working on the album that I was going to satrt with a ’90s feel,” he told CBS Local. “The life is good thing is a part of my everyday mantra. I’m tryna take n****s to school, back to school to the classroom. Take your earphones out, we going to go through it for a moment.”
Listen to Nas’ Loco-Motive here. Watch the Nas interview below. —Erik Parker, CBS Local