By Amanda Wicks
Nas and Erykah Badu, two of hip-hop’s most socially conscious voices, come together for the mournful and moving track “This Bitter Land.”
Badu’s melancholy but strong voice sets off the track. Her voice holds each phrase’s end notes and becomes a cry of anguish. “This bitter land does nothing for love/ This bitter land rains pain from above,” she sings before Nas steps in. “Running on the concrete/ Cross the train tracks/ The devil is behind me/ The ghetto is where you’ll find me,” he raps with only strings accompanying him for an added feeling of stark emotion. Badu’s voice wends around Nas’ raps before both fall silent momentarily, leaving a lone violin to fill their space.
The song appears in The Land, an upcoming feature film that Nas executive produced with Machine Gun Kelly (via Rolling Stone). The film follows four teenage boys in Cleveland who fight to escape their city in order to pursue their dreams of being professional skateboarders. It’s not Nas’ first foray into film production. He worked closely with Baz Luhrmann on the director’s new Netflix series The Get Down, which premieres in August.
Listen to “This Bitter Land” below.