Last month, we had some fun goofin’ on Lil Skies. Sadly, I’m here to report there’s little to no fun to be had with Nav’s latest, Bad Habits. A self-described “brown boy with a bag,” the Punjabi-Canadian rapper has finally reached #1 on Billboard with this project, following in the footsteps of clear inspiration and fellow Torontonian, Aubrey Graham. Nav’s sonic maneuvers are redolent of the approach that has made Drake so successful: fairly consistent production dominated by tinkering synths and overwhelming atmosphere, a derivative blend of singing and flowing, and an utter lack of lyrical personality. Do I really need to explain why “pillow talking your business to these bitches / you ain’t one of us” is misogynistic or how “I’m giving bitches pity fucks” (from “Taking Chances”) is an outright lie (just check that bowl cut)? What we have here is another artist who’s found a way to game rap industry politics — literally mislabeling songs as authored by “Post Malone” to direct Soundcloud clicks (circa 2016) — but without any of the charisma that sustains Drake’s petty woes through all the ghostwriting/deadbeat dad allegations or the legitimately experimental production chops of Travis Scott (whom he outright bites from the first lick of opener “To The Grave”). The album is a tiring affair, with lines like, “I just built a team / off loyalty / before they move / they gon’ think bout me” (“Ralo”) that make Juice WRLD sound like Leonard Cohen. Not even Thug can elevate “Tussin’” in the 30 seconds he donates. Perhaps the best song amidst this tragic affair is “Price on My Head,” succeeding thanks to The Weeknd’s haunting falsetto, which dominates two-thirds of the track, before Nav jumps on only to promptly slip and fall on his ass. And most astoundingly, Nav dares to ask listeners on “I’m Ready”: “what’s the game without me?” Considering he retired in solidarity with Lil Uzi Vert earlier this year and nothing changed, I’d say we have our answer.
Published as part of What Would Meek Do? | Issue 8