Among the 23 tracks on DJ Khaled's newly-released album, Grateful, is a Nas and Travis Scott collaboration entitled "It's Secured."
Given Khaled and Nas' track record—"Nas Album Done" was, by far, the best song on Khaled's 2016 album, Major Key—fans had reasonably high hopes going into the song's release, but less than 12 hours later, the only talking point surrounding the three minute and 39 second track is that Nas sounds like he's rapping offbeat.
While it might seem hard to believe that a rap legend like Nas could miss the pocket of a beat, according to veteran producer and one-half of Def Jam duo AOE, Dawaun Parker, it's not that hard to explain:
Makes sense, right? Nas records his verses or has them already in the stash, he sends DJ Khaled (and his engineer) the a capella files, and then it's up to Khaled's production team—in this case, 808-Ray and Cool & Dre—to make it work.
Except, in this case, it didn't.
"I'm not saying that's how [he] records every track," Parker told us via text. "I obviously have no idea. But I've seen it more than once. So, whenever I hear a Nas verse that has interesting timing or flows, I assume it's an a capella that's being repurposed."
Parker, who has worked with 50 Cent, Eminem and JAY-Z, among others, first met Nas when he recorded his verse for Dr. Dre's leaked Detox single "Topless." "I think he wrote [that one], not an a cappella," Parked added.
So, is Nas recording his verses a capella or to another beat a common practice? Actually, yes.
"I've seen several producers receive vocals that were recorded to a different beat," said Parker. "All the time. A few of folks favorite songs are technically remixes and they have no idea."
Obviously, it makes the most sense for an emcee to write his or her rhymes to the exact beat that said rhymes will be placed overtop. In this instance, however, Khaled and company might have wanted a Nas verse so badly, that they were willing to take whatever The God Son handed over via Dropbox.