December 8, 2015

Remixed For Your Pleasure: Nas - "Made You Look"


I had originally intended to write something a bit more substantial today, but as I sit here with a self-imposed deadline closing in, I'm saying, "Fuck it".  I'll have to adjust the rest of my publication schedule for the remainder of the year, but don't you two worry your pretty little heads, The Game will ultimately get his day in the sun.  Just not today, because I'm very busy.

"Made You Look" was the first single from Nas's sixth album, God's Son.  It was important for a couple of reasons: (a) it helped establish a clearer direction for Esco's career path, which had previously been disrupted by a bitter rivalry with fellow New Yorker Jay-Z and a series of increasingly shitty albums, a trend he had just begun reversing with Stillmatic prior to this, and (b) because it's actually really goddamn good.  Over a fine Salaam Remi beat that utilizes The Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache" to great effect, the Nasir Jones of 2002 reintroduces himself as a shit-talking mastermind who might have had his ear for beats swapped out for one that fucking works.  Obviously, that didn't pan out entirely for him, but I still believe that Salaam Remi is the best thing that has happened to Nas since Illmatic.

Apparently "Made You Look" is Nas's third-highest charting single to date (thanks, Wikipedia!), behind probably "I Can" (also from God's Son) and "If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)", I assume (from It Was Written).  This is notable because, unlike those other two tracks, "Made You Look" makes no attempt to appease a mainstream audience.  The first sound you hear is that of a gun firing, one that is repeated multiple times throughout the hook, as though Nas ran out of fucks to give.  And yet the song itself isn't very violent, content-wise: sure, Esco's braggadocio occasionally approaches inappropriate levels of onomatopoeia ("You know I 'click-clack' where you and your mens at" is an actual sentence uttered on this track), but "Made You Look" could easily be considered one of the man's breeziest to date.  Also, have I mentioned yet that it's actually really goddamn good?


A few weeks after "Made You Look" hit the Interweb and radio airwaves, an official remix was commissioned, so obviously Nas and his label also grew quite fond of the track.  Over the same Salaam Remi instrumental, because why fuck with a good thing, right?, Nas delivers a new verse alongside two guests who were seemingly chosen through a Hunger Games-style lottery system: Jadakiss (from The Lox) and Furious 7's Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.  That audible "Huh?" sound you heard back in 2002 came from me when I first read about the remix.

On one hand, it was awfully nice for Nasir to relinquish two-thirds of his song to rappers that he personally liked, even if the mainstream was less kind.  At least, I assume he really liked Ludacris: Luda could also have been a late-game choice made by the label in an effort to move units of God's Son, because he was pretty fucking popular back then.  (Jadakiss, of course, has never been popular.)  Over Remi's banging beat, it would have been difficult for anyone to sound terrible, so Kiss and Luda do well with their contributions, Jada especially (he was still claiming he was "Top five dead or alive, and that's just off one LP", which is horseshit, because Jadakiss will always be better as a supporting player than as the star attraction, but his "Out of shape but I make sure that my guns healthy" line is kind of funny).  But Nas walks away with his own remix, thanks to his switching gears and bringing a more aggressive flow to his closing verse, listing different euphemisms for guns as though that's the kind of shit he had been waiting to do his entire life.

Curiously, the "Made You Look" remix didn't even make the final cut of God's Son, left to reside in the purgatory of eternal B-side.  But at least it's not difficult to find or anything.

GO WITH THE O.G. OR THE REMIX?  I prefer the original, as Nas's bars sound more focused, even though he's really not saying much of anything, but at least he kind of sounds like he's enjoying himself more on the remix.  Anyone who wants to hear Ludacris entirely out of his element should seek out the remake, though: the guy is actually pretty good with adaptation.  Also, Jadakiss is there.

As this was released as a single, I've included the official video below.  It's for the censored version of the song, though, so prepare for drops in the audio where words and gunshots should be.



-Max

RELATED POST:
Nas  - God's Son (review)

13 comments:

  1. Both dope songs, you're forgiven for the (by your own admission) copout for the track chosen. Also, I'm seeing jada and the LOX live on thursday so that's nice

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  2. Ludacris easily had the best verse here.

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    1. Nah...Jada's voice and delivery gels better with the track. Salaam Remi outshines the all though.

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  3. Warning: Do not review The Game.

    Warning(2): if you do,Trust me; Disc 1 only.

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    1. I thought both were pretty classic Game albums. Solid songs to drive or bump, nothing really inventive or creative. I have like 5 songs I still play from both sides combined

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  4. Nas' It Was Written is a critically slept on mafioso classic, so forgive me if I took some of your opinions on him with a teeny tiny grain of salt.

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  5. The remix is fine but the original is so good I don't even bother with it. Easily a top 15 Nas song, maybe top 10

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  6. In 2009 you said:

    "Nas later recorded a remix of this track alongside Ludacris and Jadakiss from The Lox, a song that I pretend doesn't exist."

    just Saying

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    1. Dude, that was fucking six years ago. People evolve.

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    2. Alright, Charizard

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  7. "Jadakiss, of course, has never been popular."

    The street buzz surrounding Jadakiss in 2000/2001 was deafening. He was incredibly popular during that era.

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    1. Outside of NYC? I call bullshit. Jadakiss never had that kind of press, even when he was a part of the Puff Daddy media machine.

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