NAV's Blandness Is Unparalleled on 'Good Intentions'
Published May 08, 2020With every new NAV project, it seems as though his sound gets staler. His entry into the rap industry with songs like "Ten Toes Down (TTD)," "Myself" and "The Man" introduced a Speaker Knockerz-influenced flow with updated production. NAV self-produced most of his hazy-synth trap beats.
Today, after a litany of releases under the tutelage of Amir "Cash" Esmailian and Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye, his blandness is unparalleled. Gone are the days of inventive drug-induced atmospheric trap. The Speaker Knockerz comparisons are now only skin deep.
Good Intentions sees NAV fully embracing the aesthetic and abandoning the substantive. He abuses wearisome refrains, sings in nasal-y tones, and overuses the hackneyed triplet flow. His beats are simulacra of previous work. The otherwise talented producer deluges the listener with the same combination of space-y synths, 808s and trap drums. The second half of the album features better production, making use of more ambitious sampling. Unfortunately, it maintains the doldrum of NAV's hyper-derivative rapping style.
On this project, he surrounds himself with incompatible features. Future outshines him on "My Business," Young Thug steals the show on both "No Debate" and "Spend it" (perhaps the highlight of the album), and Pop Smoke's posthumous verse on "Run It Up" manages to give the track some life. Gunna, Lil Uzi Vert and Don Toliver all make appearances on the track, but are as forgettable as NAV himself. Travis Scott provides much needed colour in this otherwise grey album, but the feature lives in the shadow of the superior "Biebs in the Trap" from Scott's 2016 release Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.
In so far as 'vibes' and 'moods' become more important in hip-hop, Nav captures the feeling of boredom exceptionally well. Surrounding himself with hip-hop's most superficial, NAV somehow manages to represent even less. When he incorrectly declares on lead single "Turks," "If I drop dead, I'll be hard to replace," NAV shows he's unaware of how replaceable he really is.