When it was announced that Nav would be releasing his "debut" album, Reckless, I immediately thought of high school. There's just something about him that takes me back to those lunchroom cyphers when someone was bold enough to be terrible with conviction. Confidence is key, even when there’s no reason to have any. Nav is the kid who wasn’t any good—who became the butt of all the jokes—but would always return to the cypher.
In my experience, that guy would land a desk job after graduation, get serious about life in his late 20s, and eventually work his way up to director of communications of some company. Not Nav, though—he’s the exception. Instead of working at Dunder Mifflin, he signs a record deal with a popular pop star, receives beats from the world’s biggest producer, and tours the world performing his raps everywhere from small rooms to big festivals.
Yes, Nav sounds like Siri rapping. Yes, he makes Silkk the Shocker sound like '96 Nas. Yes, he has the charisma of a broomstick and the presence of a mop. Yes, he is leading the least interesting rapper alive poll. But he's also a kid who turned the fantasy job of a generation into an actual living. I respect it.
I’m almost certain I won’t like Reckless, the way I didn’t like NAV or Perfect Timing. But after seeing him perform at Rolling Loud, seeing real fans recite his lyrics, I’m open to giving him another chance. My mind is open, but my soul knows how low my expectations are.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding and no stopping. Somebody pray for me *Kendrick voice*.
Wavy production. The chords are soft. Nav comes on the song reminiscing about the licks he used to hit. He also bragged about blowing kisses. I’m already wheezing. Everything he's rapping has me convinced he stole Travis Scott’s iPhone and read the notes. Think of it as the SoundCloud rapper version of stealing a notebook. “I know how to kill these rappers with no gun” hahaha. Comedy. Pure comedy. “I’m living reckless, could’ve bought a car I bought a necklace.” Cole wrote “1985” for Nav. It’s funny how relevant his advice will be for all young rappers. Nav just said he "can't have no kids"; I wonder if that’s because he’s so busy or if having a baby is more expensive than his Spotify checks can afford. No shade, baby's are expensive.
2. "Never Change"
This is going to be Nav’s cliche trap song about how he’s going to stay real. I like the build up. Very intimidating. The drop hit harder than a knuckle sandwich but could’ve been a dropkick. Nav sounds like he’s doing Big Sean karaoke. I wish Big Sean had this beat, and I don’t say that too often. Nav is trying to do some vocal switch up. It’s causing me to cringe. I was wrong, this song is about how he may never change. Everything he raps just sounds like a parody. Nav makes parody rap, the genre dominated by Hamburger Helper and Wendys. Nav is Aziz Ansari doing parody trap but much worse. I actually like the hook. Well, the melody. Nav’s voice makes me want Febreze my eardrums.
3. "Hold Your Hand"
Remember when people thought Nav was Justin Bieber rapping on “beibs in the trap”? Simpler times. Woo! This beat knocks! The hi-hats are on fire. Nice melodic keys. Someone give Nav an asthma pump. How did such a beautiful beat fail to reach 2 Chainz's inbox? I’m upset at whoever allowed this not to reach a more capable rapper. I hate how little originality can be found in his music. Not sound, but thought. He has yet to say anything that felt honest. Few rappers can successfully fit so many cliches into each song. You can use Nav albums to make trap music crossword puzzles.
4. "Faith" ft. Quavo
Nav said he wishes he could have the money without the fame. Is he really that famous? I mean, Nav’s level of notoriety isn't large enough to be affecting his life. Maybe I’m wrong. All these drugs, man… Production is very strong. Quavo! There's a big difference in Quavo cool and Nav's version of cool. I do like Nav’s background vocals. Not a bad hook, melody-wise. He has some good melodies. Slowed down A$AP-esque. Some nice vocal pitches. Would’ve loved if the entire song was like this. Nav sounding Travis-esque (see above). The influence is there.
5. "Champion" ft. Travis Scott
I like these keys. Travis! You hear his presence! Banger! The drums came from stage right and blew the record up. I think Nav is doing background harmonies; he should stay there. I spoke too soon. This would’ve been a great Travis single. Great energy. Nav really has to stop with the helium. “My rollie tell me what the day is” hahaha. I hope all the girls with braces flame him. I wish Trav kept this as a loosie, but so far it's the best song on the album. I need to see production credits when I'm done.
6. "Glow Up"
I like whoever is setting the vibe for Nav. If this album is self-produced, he needs to give away the sauce and stopping spitting all over it. This verse is not it. Someone check Nav’s waist for the .32 he’s bragging about. I thought there weren't any shooters in Toronto, someone has to find out if there’s any truth to these lyrics. Imagine if every rapper was fake, and Nav is the one living all these lyrics… *laughs hysterically*
7. "Just Happened"
Damn Daniel drop. If Drake had this beat and the melody, it would go. I cringe at every lyric. He brought a Draco to the beach, hahaha. There’s something here if you replaced all his lyrics with a better, more convincing artist. Trap music is all about feeling. Other rappers say what Nav is saying, but when it's said without feeling or emotion, it's cringe-worthy. Where is this boy’s soul!? Does he even have one!?
8. "Wanted You" ft. Lil Uzi Vert
Uzi! He’s talking. How did Nav get these features? [Editor's Note: Money] He must have a great personality. Nav’s girl problems even sound generic. Uzi! He swooped in and saved my life. I might have to revisit Uzi's album. I enjoyed his verse more than Quavo's guest spot and everything Nav. This feature is up there with Travis. Uzi’s back! “Hit it from the back while Uzi stands in front of you.” I’m laughing far harder than you will ever know. Love to whoever may have been involved in a threesome with Nav and Uzi. You deserve the world.
9. "With Me"
I’m still laughing. Okay, I’m done. Production staying solid. I really want to know who is behind the boards for this album. I like the way he uses melodies, but then there’s Quavo, who does it all much better. I wonder, does someone write these raps for him? It all seems too fake. Overly fake. Why doesn’t Nav have any personal narratives? Where are his stories? I just need him to prove he’s not a programmed robot/hologram.
10. “Eat” ft. Gunna
The Gunna feature is going to feed the streets. Nice bounce. Nav said rappers tell lies on beats, and that goes back to my original theory about him being the real while everyone else is a liar. Gunna just called Nav his brother, okay sir. I like certain songs, but that feature didn’t sell me on the Gunna hype. He’s still far more fitting for this street shaking production. “I walked in and bought all the Gucci socks” hahaha. These two sound like 10th graders who stole mom’s credit card, skipped school and spent the day shopping on Hypebeast. I respect Gunna’s love for European cloth, a man of taste. This song was very tough not to skip. Anytime Nav crosses into the three-minute mark, I get very anxious.
11. "Freshmen List"
I wish this album would just end. I’m loving this build up. I feel so bad for these beats. I want to free them from this hostage situation. “Got a lot of problems I handle on my own, I remember making beats feeling stuck inside my home,” is by far the best verse on the album. It’s still bad— like watching paint dry bad—but far more pleasant than all the rest.
12. "What I Need"
This song is five minutes, and I’m praying it’s not all rapping. Auto-Tune melodies. Sounds Travis-esque (again). Someone stop all the drug talk. I just don’t believe it. If Future lied about those 56 nights, I’m not believing Nav until his grandmother or a close relative co-signs his drug consumption. Whoever said rapping was easy and anyone could do it well lied. Beat switch. Sounds interesting enough to keep me from nodding off. The production did not disappoint. The vibe is on the backend. I just wish Nav would stop talking. The 30 rounds in his clip are killing my vibe. Can I start a petition to save his beats?
Reckless (first listen) final thoughts:
Twelve songs never felt so long. Nav successfully made what should’ve been a little over 30 minutes feel like rummaging through Lil B’s discography. Actually, going through the Based God's endless catalog would’ve been a far more enjoyable experience.
Within my one-listen review is the heart of my disdain for Nav, and this lifeless collection of songs. It feels pointless to further critique what really was a waste of time. The production is solid, the features were solid, but Nav has no redeemable qualities. None. I’ve seen mailboxes with more personality, grandfather clocks with more soul, and grade school students who have a more enthralling way with words.
Nav makes trap music for children who still believe in Santa Claus, for the teenagers who were stunned when Eazy-E died at the end of Straight Outta Compton, and for adults who find it reckless to ride planes without putting their phone on airplane mode.
If the shoe fits, though, enjoy.
By Yoh, aka yohs in the trap, aka @Yoh31