ELZHI: Detroit State of Mind

Last year Fashawn's Ode To Illmatic built an incredibly solid case for those opposed to revivalism. The most memorable aspect of his tribute was the fact it temporarily deflated my anticipation for Elzhi’s similarly themed project. Fortunately, my faith was restored with the release of 'Detroit State of Mind'. In addition to encompassing a refreshingly aggressive delivery, Elzhi managed to successfully shift the focus of the original narrative. 'New York State of Mind' is absolutely a regional anthem, but the lyrics are self-absorbed and mostly concentrate on The Big Apple's influence on a teenage Nasir's style, sanity, and ambitions. Meanwhile, its mid-western counterpart employs the same vantage point, but instead documents the plight of Detroit's inhabitants rather than unraveling personal tribulations. Whether or not Elzhi's deviation from Nas' blueprint was intentional or simply a result of misinterpretation is debatable. Regardless, the nuance suggests Elmatic has the potential to serve as more than merely a declaration of inspiration.

Elzhi - Detroit State of Mind


  1. one love - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2356791/elzhi%20-%20one%20love.mp3

  2. @ShareBro Good looks man. Didn't realize that one leaked already.

  3. "'New York State of Mind' is absolutely a regional anthem, but the lyrics are self-absorbed and mostly concentrate on The Big Apple's influence on a teenage Nasir's style, sanity, and ambitions"

    No. "Self-absorbed" is the incorrect term to use. The narrator shifts smoothly between chest-puffing survival bragadocio and expressing concern for the collective in several points in the song.

  4. So now I'm jetting to the building lobby/
    and it was filled with children probably
    couldn't see as high as I be/
    (So whatchu sayin?) It's like the game ain't the same/
    Got younger niggaz pullin the triggers bringing fame to they name/
    and claim some corners, crews without guns are goners/
    In broad daylight, stickup kids, they run up on us/


    Nas makes observations regarding the collective, but it eventually always comes back to how those observations affect himself. So in this case I feel he's expressing how as his own actions influence the youth, and then how that negative influence has worked or will work against him in the end. But that's just how I've always viewed it.

  5. That doesn't make it self-absorbed. It just means that the narrator devotes time to discussing different situations from different perspectives, including that of self-interest as well as reflection. Elzhi does attempt t emulate this by the way, his lyrics are not fully focused on the plight of some collective, not by a long shot.

    Nas is not only talking about his actions influencing the youth, he is discussing how the social milieu has been corrupted by systemic ills, and how that combination dehumanizes everyone involves. He transitions between "we and us" and explains in detail why destinies are linked even when people act upon self-interested impulses.

    Your strict separation between a narrative that addresses issues pertaining to the individual and one that "documents the plight" simply does not apply in this instance.

    Elzhi doesn't actually deviate from Nas's formula, he just fails to make the concept sound nearly as compelling, in part because he's obsessed with making multiple syllables rhyme. This doesn't bode well for the rest of the project, but I suppose Elzhi can sleep well knowing that a lot of listeners and critics lack the perspective to assess his middling derivative crap for what it really is.

    No hard feelings, just ain't feeling you on this post, in the least.

  6. @Thun Good points. No hard feelings. Thanks for your input.

  7. Elzhi sucks.....

    rhymin an rhymin.....

    but he aint sayin' nathan.....

    Nas > Bawse > Jigga > Memphis Bleek > Elzhi

    word tha fuck up.....

  8. damn thun writin a damn dissertation an shit.....

  9. HL - reading back, I think our disagreement might be one of semantics, at least in regards to interpretation. I disagree wit "self-absorbed" because the term has a negative connotation, and also because I don't think Nas's narrator permanently retreats to some navel-gazing position. I think he changes over the course of the song, and is documenting this change, but his maturation is related to his relationship with the collective.

    I think "reflective" is a more correct term, which is different from being say "reflexive" or solipsistic.

    Whether or not Elzhi's version is "good" is of course subjective. I think it's "good" in a very general sense, and yet irks me for the reasons I described above. But maybe I am assuming that Elzhi himself believes he has added something new to the original and he might be more humble than that. ::shrugs::

  10. @hl and Thun, both good points, I think this kind of analysis makes for quality discussion. The great thing about Illmatic is that it remains so ripe for such discussions due to Nas' virtuoso writing.

    I've always considered NY State of Mind as more self-aware than self-absored, Nas getting to grips with his surroundings and almost actively trying to understand and soak it in whilst simultaneously having to live within it.

    I was surprised at how good Elzhi's take was, Elzhi is a quality emcee who I personally think has a great knack for imagery (i.e talking in my sleep, transitional joint) as well as superior emceeing in a traditional sense. I'm not sure how much I'll listen to it though, if it's too similar I will just end up bumping Illmatic itself instead.

    Also, is Fashawn's take worth a look??

  11. "If it's too similar I will just end up bumping Illmatic itself instead."


    My thoughts exactly.

    And no, the Fashawn tape wasn't very good in my opinion. But I think he's a good rapper. Boy Meets World (Exile produced) and The Antidote (Alchemist produced) are both pretty great.

  12. Aight cool, yeah Boy meets world and the antidote are my shit. I actually copped BMW when it dropped, well worth the monies. It's a shame that ode to illmatic weren't too great, Fashawn is defo more similar to Nas in his approach to emceeing.

  13. LF: Blog looked better when the sides were white

  14. Wait is this Victor from Thimk? Big fan of your blog if so, you inspired me to do similar.

  15. "Wait is this Victor from Thimk? Big fan of your blog if so, you inspired me to do similar."


    Nah. You're thinking of Vincent. He used to comment here from time to time, but I haven't seen him around in a while.

  16. Damn your right. I often make these kind of slip ups, wouldnt be surprised if I made the notorious Obama/Osama one already.

    I miss Thimk.