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“Get Down” – Nas

May 26, 2012

All I really gotta say is…if that’s how people gonna get down, how are we ever gonna get up?  How we ever gonna get up, if that’s how we get down?  You see when you ain’t look at it, my folk against y’all folk…but we all kinfolk…somebody’s gotta make a change…

Salaam Remi

I remember during 2002 when I had my CD player and few albums came into my mom’s music collection, which would also be a part of my music collection.  One of those albums was Nas’s God’s Son, which housed my favorite single at the time in “Made You Look.”  However, “Made You Look” was only the third cut on the 14-track album, but I would never have expected the first cut to make the biggest impression on my then 13-year-old ears.

The horns dropping promised something theatrical and the “Get Down” scratch intrigued me, but it was the guitar loop that kept my finger off of the dreaded skip button.   Then Nas began a tale about the New York streets he lived in, reminiscing about “killers that walked like Pistol Pete and Pappy Mason” that “gave the young boys admiration”, as well as avoiding getting busted by the cops after receiving a warning from an unnamed stranger.  Meanwhile, a friend of his awaits his sentence in court, but before it can get delivered, his friend manages to disarm a court officer of his firearm and manages to hold the entire courtroom hostage, his fate to be determined by the listener.

On the second verse, he opens by saying “some niggas fuck they enemies in the ass when they catch ’em, weird-ass niggas who’s dangerous, so don’t test ’em.”  Food for thought.  Then he talks about “a year that [he] won’t forget”, where he “sold CD’s, double platinum” and “met more execs.”  The “executives” in question were independent Southern rappers (specifically Tennessee) that have dominated the drug game by disguising their hustle as a rap label.  They tried to trick Nas into smoking a blunt filled with PCP, but he was onto their scheme and punched one of the execs.

He returns to New York, only to pack up and go to Los Angeles to attend a funeral in Crenshaw with some Crips for protection.  Many people were slain, and the murder was killed in a hospital.  To calm his nerves, his cousin hooked him up with a woman who was half-Mexican, and she let him lie with her.  Because of his association with the people that killed some of her friends and family, she tried to have him executed, but he narrowly avoided his death sentence.  After the experience, he calls up his cousin and informs him that he will no longer be associating himself with them.  Then the track ends with the quote at the top of this post.

“Get Down” displays Nas’s talent as a storyteller, as he weaves you into four different stories all in one song.  I always thought that the song would make for a dope visual, and I was left disappointed when the song was teased on the visuals for “I Can” (a song off the same album).  Later on, I realized that it’s probably one of those songs that didn’t need a visual, just as long as you used your imagination.  It still remains one of Nas’s most underrated cuts though…

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