Nav - Demons Protected by Angels Music Album Reviews

Nav - Demons Protected by Angels Music Album ReviewsNav - Demons Protected by Angels Music Album Reviews
The Canadian rapper’s latest album finds moments of real depth and humanity. The rest of the time, his verses register as monotonous and tame, his energy dictated by A-list collaborators.

Nav has an aptitude for fading into the background. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whose fault that is, like when his guest verse on Travis Scott’s Astroworld was the quietest on the album. But on his most recent projects, 2020’s Emergency Tsunami and Good Intentions, Nav’s meekness—combined with generic, Auto-Tuned crooning and flexes ranging from standard to weirdly specific—made his presence feel more like that of a stock image than a main character. On the new Demons Protected by Angels, he attempts to shift focus away from the beats and features, finally treating the songs like they’re his own. Nav lets extended moments of true self-awareness break through his manicured shell, momentarily deviating from the soulless bars that often fill his albums.

His comfort with the spotlight manifests in funny ways, oscillating between moving personal stories and times when he lets other artists control the tempo. Demons Protected by Angels originally included a track featuring Drake, which Nav removed because his fellow Canadian is “such a big artist” that his presence might “take away from anything else on the album.” That makes sense—but Nav then proceeds to feature Travis Scott, Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Baby, and Don Toliver within one four-song stretch. The competing logic of the album’s synthesis and final structure exposes the reality of Nav’s stardom: He doesn’t have the draw to carry an album by himself. You begin to suspect that he realizes this as well.

Ceding too much room to guests undermines Nav’s individuality and causes the star-powered tracks to veer toward the generic. “Lots of water on my neck and I could easily get you wet too,” he raps on “Dead Shot,” resorting to cookie-cutter boasts to keep pace with the cosmic pitter-patter of an instrumental clearly designed with Uzi’s cadence and delivery in mind. Lil Baby blisters through his verse on “Never Sleep,” while Nav drones on about foreign cars and putting molly in Travis Scott-branded alcoholic seltzers, getting swallowed up by the Tay Keith beat. Some tracks with features rise above the mind-numbing fray, like “Interstellar” with Uzi (their matched energy is reminiscent of the stellar Eternal Atake) and “Mismatch” with Babyface Ray, who skates over a frantic Wheezy beat with expert precision. But too often Nav’s contributions register as monotonous and tame, his energy dictated by his collaborators, his words doomed to be forgotten until they’re mined for future Instagram captions.

To his credit, there are real moments when Nav draws listeners closer and surprises them by baring his insecurities and pain without flinching. Sandwiched between A-list collaborations, the solo track “Last of the Mohicans” repurposes the 1992 Daniel Day-Lewis vehicle as a double entendre reference to Nav’s Punjabi heritage and self-described isolation. Supported by little more than a trap drumbeat and wistful background vocals, he sounds remarkably honest on the subject of loss and loneliness, rapping about emotional breakdowns and fears of mortality. “Lost Me,” with its somber Rod Wave–esque piano introduction and Toronto crooner RealestK’s wispy falsetto, is the closest the oft-shallow Nav has come to a true ballad. “In another dimension, I hope I get dementia to get you out my memory,” he raps at the end of the first verse, granting a rare window into what heartbreak feels like for him.

Left to his own devices, Nav sometimes strays back towards raps without substance, coasting on pristine beat selection and Auto-Tune that lull the listener into easy-listening mode. Over the sugary melody and money-counter sound effects of “Loaded,” he attempts to interrogate drug use as a form of escapism, but his abridged verse ensures that you’re more likely to hum along with the electronic keyboard in the background than to remember his accounts of fast living. The saving grace for “Destiny” is the intermittent atmospheric beeping, which forces an intriguing shift in pace and cadence amid Nav’s raps about shooters and Christian Dior floors.

The closing track, “Ball in Peace,” is a dedication to Nav’s late friend Joley Aristhee, who died in February 2022 after falling from a Manhattan rooftop while running from police. It feels like Nav’s enlightened form, the pinnacle of what he could achieve if he decided to rap about things that actually mattered to him. The song is powered solely by his voice, and though the melodies are airy, his words are tinged with pain and regret. “I see you in my dreams, fallin’ away from me/I never met someone as loyal, I’ma just keep shit immaculate for you,” he raps. It’s unfair to expect any artist to reach these depths and share them—but here, Nav does. It’s an extreme example of the emotions that he’s capable of displaying in his music. The challenge is to make these showcases of humanity and meaning the rule, rather than the exception.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Nav - Demons Protected by Angels Music Album Reviews Nav - Demons Protected by Angels Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, September 22, 2022 Rating: 5

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