NAV balances good and evil in “Demons Protected By Angels.”
Honorable Mention. Don’t Compare
If you grew up on NAV (There’s a good chance that you didn’t), you know that one of his best bags is his vulnerable one. In “Don’t Compare,” he triples down on that bag. We’ve all been emasculated before, right? Don’t fight it, embrace it! When you are with a woman that you can trust, that s**t will happen. That is really the premise of this track. In it, NAV continuously sings about opening up to someone who he sees as the perfect companion. While the song boasts a Drake-ish beat, you really get an organic performance out of NAV.
In a little more than two minutes, NAV and Babyface Ray stuff “Mismatch” with tons of trill-ass raps.
The beat attached to “Mismatch” has a feverish tempo that NAV and Babyface Ray actually keep up with. In the song, they pair frantic flows with braggadocios, hustla-inspired, and reckless raps (Did NAV say that he keeps driving drunk? Did NAV just say that he’s scared to step on lava?). All in all, “Mismatch” is a short but damn-there flawless street record.
4. Ball In Peace (Outro)
“Ball In Peace (Outro)” might be the most touching track NAV has ever created.
NAV dedicates “Ball In Peace (Outro)” to his locked-up homie (Perhaps Young Thug?). Throughout his verses, he legit sounds hurt, frustrated, and thankful. While the lyrics he delivers are fantastic, I think the song’s emotional beat, subtle melodies, consistent flows, and intoxicating vibe will catch your attention the most.
3. Playa (Ft. Gunna)
NAV and Gunna are a few games over .500 on songs together.
I have a bad habit of downplaying NAV’s impact on his collaborative tracks. In “Playa,” I can honestly say that he holds his own against Gunna. Yes, Gunna absolutely murders the hook and puts up a slick verse that sets the tone for the song, but I really feel like NAV’s aggressive and confident verse is what moves the needle. Whatever the case may be, “Playa” is a really good song.
2. One Time (Ft. Don Toliver & Future)
I’m trying to hear “One Time” in clubs with strict dress codes. The song isn’t one that will hype you up; it’s one that will make the hookah feel more relaxing.
To be completely honest with you, it’s Don Tolliver’s smooth-ass hook and Future’s melodic rap verse that makes “One Time” special. I just feel like NAV’s style doesn’t match the vibe of the song at all. At the end of the day, Andre Iguodala won finals MVP over Steph Curry in the 2015 NBA finals; they both won a championship, though.
1. Never Sleep
“Never Sleep” might just be NAV’s toughest banger.
“Never Sleep” goes harder than McNuggets that were left in the cold. For starters, the song features this alert-heavy trap beat that serves as the perfect platform for Travis Scott, Lil Baby, and NAV to talk their s**t. The good news is this: They do just that! In the trio’s verses, you will hear talk about legacy-building, tucked guns, and women being spoiled effortlessly. While I think Travis Scott is the star of the song, I love how everyone sounds like they are on the same pompous page.
SONG BY SONG RATING
1. Count On Me (2.5/5)
2. Baby (3/5)
3. Dead Shot (With Lil Uzi Vert) (3/5)
4. Never Sleep (With Lil Baby & Travis Scott) (4.5/5)
5. Last Of The Mohicans (3/5)
6. One Time (Ft. Don Toliver & Future) (4/5)
7. Demons In My Cup (3/5)
8. Playa (Ft. Gunna) (N/A)
9. Weirdo (4/5)
10. My Dawg (Ft. Lil Durk) (4/5)
11. Don’t Compare (3/5)
12. Interstellar (Ft. Lil Uzi Vert) (4/5)
13. Loaded (3/5)
14. Lost Me (With RealestK) (3/5)
15. Reset (With Bryson Tiller)(3/5)
16. Mismatch (with Babyface Ray)(4/5)
17. Wrong Decisions (3/5)
18. Destiny (3.5/5)
19. Ball In Peace (Outro) (4/5)
I didn’t realize how much I missed NAV until today. While I don’t think that he is the best rapper in the world, the best singer in the world, or the most believable gangsta in the world, I do think that he has a sound that feels authentic and sympathizable. In other words, though he talks about the same things 90% of the rappers in the world talk about today, there’s something about his delivery that makes him stand out. Demons Protected By Angels is a 19-track project that oozes music that feels so damn intoxicating.
Do you know what I find interesting about NAV? He started out as a producer, but these days, he relies on other producers quite a bit. Demons Protected By Angels has beats by Tay Keith, Wheezy, and more. The good news is that the album does a great job of hop-scotching between touching, R&B-Esque beats, and some hard-hitting trap s**t; three styles NAV usually excels using. One thing you have to applaud NAV for is his ability to create albums that flow well production-wise.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I don’t love NAV as a rapper. I think he sounds a little too robotic, his flows sound shaky, and he relies on gimmicky lyrics a little too much. With that being said, the sentiments that he shares with us in his verses are intriguing to listen to. In Demons Protected By Angels, in small pockets, NAV does a good job of vulnerably speaking about his love for his homies, his relationship issues, and his come-up. I really think that he has mastered the art of connecting with listeners mentally.
The guest appearances on this album are great. It actually surprised me that no one provided mailed-in performances (Not even Future). While I really like Babyface Ray, RealestK, and Lil Uzi Vert’s contributions, it’s Don Toliver, Future, and Gunna’s performances that stand out the most, to me.
Is NAV’s music an acquired taste? Yes. I don’t think his style is one that will automatically resonate with your typical hip-hop fan. But, as someone who has followed him since his first album release, what I can tell you is this: He is one of the few musicians that has been able to stay true to himself from start to finish. His content today literally mirrors his content from back in the day. Such consistency should be applauded; so should knowing your lane, vulnerability, and Lil Baby features.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.