Drugged-up and bummed-out, Toronto rapper Nav hits his stride | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Drugged-up and bummed-out, Toronto rapper Nav hits his stride 

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click to enlarge Nav

Nav

Courtesy the Artist

The world was introduced to Nav by his featured verse on “Biebs in the Trap,” off Travis Scott’s landmark 2016 Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight. In its alarmingly candid tale of drug abuse and the party life, Nav proved a good complement to Scott while leaning into the disaffected, robotic rap-singing that the psychedelic trap mastermind had popularized. Nav comes from the same Toronto hip-hop scene as Drake and the Weeknd, so “glassy-eyed confessional” is very much his zone, but the material on his past few releases has felt like he’s trying to play catch-up to his hometown peers with shallow but catchy forays into empty excess. Not until this spring’s Bad Habits did Nav seem to hit his stride for the first time: the album is full of undeniable choruses and raw, bleak lyrics, and even when he starts to lose steam, he keeps things moving with appearances from some of hip-hop's current crop of greats, including the Weeknd, Young Thug, and the master of fucked-up-and-sad rap himself, Future. Though Nav will never overtake Drake as Toronto’s king of emotional hip-hop, it’s exciting to see him start to carve out a proper spot for himself in the city.   v

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