Nas has taken a relatively hands-off approach with Dave East. The Harlem-born MC – who came of age around Nas’ native Queensbridge – is the first artist Esco has put his cosign on in years. Nas has been the hidden hand throughout most of East’s career, with few photos of the two and few features outside of 2015’s “Forbes List.” The closest thing we’ve gotten to a collaboration recently is his narration on “The Hated,” a track that harkens to New York’s gritty golden era of sinister horns and stories of the underworld.
The track is from East’s Paranoia project and premiered last night even though Paranoia 2 was recently released as well. The ambitious Kid Art-directed visual goes all the way with East’s detailed narrative. The 10-minute visual peers into the Harlem streets, examining the chase for a dirty dollar – and the jealousy that having those dollars breeds. East is an omniscient narrator, featured in scenes in an apartment which alternates with scenes from the story. The two worlds converge in a dramatic climax which puts an exclamation point on the music video.
“The Hated” is the kind of track that highlights East’s potential as a new school torchbearer of the classic New York sound. Who better than Nas to open and close it?