NAV, a 26-year-old upstart from Ontario, encompasses the same moody, dark melodic rap that peers like Tory Lanez, Drake and label mate/boss The Weeknd have. However, the self-titled debut project from the former fails to stand up to any from the latters while also failing to be interesting enough to be considered as a prospecting artist.
Vapid, bland and achingly unoriginal, NAV songs here are mainly about how he’s come up from his ‘old life’ to the pill popping, weed smoking , codeine sipping position he currently resides in. Not only are these topics the same old song and dance in today’s rap world, NAV’s delivery is auto-tuned-dreck, and while rap tends to get more of a pass when it comes to repetitive topics, the 26-year-old can’t possibly receive one here. With lines such as “Told that bitch I’m not Mike Tyson, I don’t bite ears,” “These pussies actin’ like some toilets, wanna take my shit” and the unbelievably corny “Now I pay nothing for my sneakers ’cause I’m NAV,” the rapper/singer fails to back up his come up with witty wordplay. Throw in the fact that a lot of these songs utilize the same flow and what you get is an artist who seems to only have one trick up his sleeve.
If there’s one saving grace on NAV it’s the production. While NAV struggles as a rapper here, his skills as a producer shine well. With a production credit on every song, he does his native Canada’s airy, dark aesthetic justice. Unfortunately, aside from a few standouts (Myself, Up), the songs never feel complete, as NAV can’t seem to complement the production well enough to make it pop.
NAV is just starting out so he certainly has room to grow. His new XO family may be able to harness what talent he has and turn it into something worthwhile, but for now he’s just a less-interesting Speaker Knockerz.