Recent events being where they are have caused me to take a listen to Hip Hop songs from the past that lean more towards social commentary and consciousness. One that I’ve listened to a million times over is this one from Nas’ 2001 album Stillmatic. This song helps to wrap up a strong, stellar album from Nas at a point in his career where he was going through somewhat of a renaissance after a few misfires, as well as due to the beef that developed between he and Jay-Z. The beauty of “What Goes Around” is in Nas’ attention to detail in talking about the ugly in the world. The nature of the track as a whole seeps and drips with conspiracy theory and paranoia, and came at a time when 9/11 had basically just happened and was fresh in our hearts and minds. The lyrics are heavy with cynicism, doubt and distrust, while the spooky organ sneaks and creeps in every now and then to establish a sense of windswept bleakness. The maudlin acoustic guitar that enters at the end of the first verse adds to the sense of seeing beyond what’s shown and reading between the lines. At a moment when we seemed to be at our weakest, Nas was at his most dark, most mournful and most lyrically desolate.

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