Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Favorite Track: N/A Least Favorite Track: "Nasty"
NAV’s mind-numbingly nondescript, soulless, and effortless sound has been consistent thus far into his career, creating a uniquely unoriginal niche for himself where his lack of creativity and innovation is thankfully rivaled by none. His beat choices are incalculably stereotypical, his lyricism is the among most creatively vacant of the 21st century, and yet I still managed to come away from his most recent effort, Emergency Tsunami, absolutely shocked that music this lifeless unironically existed. Instead of doing anything to interest me, this album just left me perplexed as to how someone like NAV maintains a career, how he is lauded by trap fans day in and day out, and how he manages to pull in over nine million listeners a month on Spotify.
Emergency Tsunami, in terms of both beat arrangement and vocal performance, is about as featureless as it gets. The beats provided by Wheezy throughout the project are consistently dull and repetitious, besides the track “Friends and Family”. The production is heavily overloaded with the exact same drum kit that your average “type-beat” producer would utilize daily on their Youtube channel, thumping 808 patterns that are more predictable than the progression of a clock, and the occasional string or piano pattern that feels more rehashed than a I-IV-V 12-bar blues progression. Eventually, the album begins to feel so nondescript that criticizing specific tracks becomes a daunting task, as any criticism you could lob against one track you could just as easily plaster onto the other thirteen.
Despite how agonizing NAV's lack of creativity is, it becomes sort of impressive that an artist can make a piece of work as lifeless and devoid of personality as Emergency Tsunami. It seems more likely than not that some sort of personality would shine through or a fun vocal quirk would make itself clear amidst the slop, but NAV manages to be the most consistently robotic artist possible throughout the project. His lyricism is typical of the trap genre, lines oversexualizing/exploiting women and mindlessly flexing watches, chains, and money running rampant throughout a bog of worn out musical tropes. The autotune placed on his voice overtakes any notable timbre he might have originally had, replacing it with an painfully robotic and lifeless “voice” that ends up sounding like A.I. attempting to replicate trap music trends.
It is genuinely hard to find specific things to be angry at this album for, because it is never aggressively offensive to the ear in the way that someone like blackbear is. Instead, the annoyance and anger comes from the clear lack of effort in the music. I believe that great music comes from the heart and from the genuine passion and care that people put into their music to present it. Sure, great musicianship and decent songwriting is needed, but when you have no life to your music it doesn’t matter how good you are at either of those things. When I hear someone like Kendrick Lamar, the conviction used on a song like “How Much a Dollar Cost” is not only impressive, but indicative of the care and heart put in. Emergency Tsunami is the antithesis of this idea, feeling like nothing other than a cash grab and murdering any resemblance of musical passion it needs to feel compelling in any way, shape, or form. NAV’s passion for music feels one-dimensional, about as substantive as his lyrics and as lifeless as his robotic voice, and the result is an album that is anything and everything but sincere or passionate.