Between all the camera phones, Treos and straight up notepads in the air at the Hip Hop Is Dead listening party, we knew somebody was going to take care of posting up the program/tracklist handed out at the door, "Jay-Z was there!", and all that long before we even got to work this morning. Which is great, because we were gonna talk about important stuff like Nas's hat and Mister Cee and really just meander through the mind garden anyway.
Nas didn't saunter in with the King Tut necklace (we felt a little let down) but he was definitely pushing that grown up b-boy look he's been on as of late - boots, jeans, crewneck sweatshirt, fitted (a real Hypebeast-y burgundy/grey/purple/neon green Atlanta Falcons joint). After taking a moment to set up the album, tell us that everyone in the room was responsible for killing hip hop, and shout out his publicist ("my man Gabe or whatever"), Jay walked in and Nas looked surprised (and secretly real pleased), saying "Def Jam - it's a black oasis!" before starting the album.
We heard most of the songs we heard before (why no Damian Marley this time?) including the Chris Webber track, the very dope Snoop/Storch collab (is it socially acceptable to say that we're looking forward to the Snoop album? Yeah, we put dude on the cover but (A) that was a film issue and (B) y'all know what we mean), the other, super pretty Storch beat and the Kanye one. The Nat King Cole sampling "Can't Forget About You" (played last, with implications that this would be the "big" single) was a cheese-fest, but it was more than made up for by "Where Are They Now?", Nas's response of sorts to Busta's "New York Shit" where he gives props to old school heroes and gives parental advice ("When ya kid turns ten, let him listen to Spice 1") over a beat that flips the guitar lick from Big Daddy Kane's "Set It Off" something sick.
We also heard the opening seconds of the record we weren't allowed to tell you about last time. Yes, the Jay record. "Black Republican." Jay and Nas personally instructed the soundman to cut it off after the intro, pretend-mad and beaming contentedly at the anticipation they just unleashed. Mister Cee kept shouting "Go in, go in!" but the crowd got a rewind of the intro and nothing more. Still, it was great to watch a room of seen it all, heard it all industry people get psyched, like real life psyched about something. If this is the reward, maybe we should kill rap more often.