Track Meet: Nana Puts On For Los Angeles With "Save Yourself"
Updated: Jan 26
In the "Track Meet" series, we break down albums or projects track by track to show where sports and hip-hop meet.
In what's been a roller coaster year, Los Angeles rapper Nana continues the celebration of the city with his "Save Yourself" album. Amid the coronavirus pandemic and rise of racial tensions, the City of Angels won the NBA Championship and World Series with the Lakers and Dodgers respectively. These victories were extra meaningful for the city after it was shaken by Kobe Bryant's death and the loss of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Nana uses his project to reflect on life in the same Crenshaw district that Naybahood Nip hailed from, the battle of temptations in the streets and how sports is woven throughout Los Angeles culture.
"LA Times" ft. REASON
"I'm just tryna kick it and chill, know where I'm good at/And hit the Magic Johnson Theater, and bag a hood rat"
"The one I recognize wore a Hardwood Classic"
Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson invested in a handful of movie theaters after the LA Riots of the early 1990s as the nation was reawakened to the need to support Black-owned businesses. (Sound familiar?) The first one was in Baldwin Hills called Magic Johnson Crenshaw 15. It's 10 minutes from Nipsey Hussle's The Marathon Clothing store.
Later in the narrative-driven song, Nana takes note of the group of people he's encountering on his excursion, recognizing someone in a Hardwood Classic jersey. Possibly a Lakers one? Maybe even a throwback blue Kobe Bryant jersey as affiliations quickly come into play.
"I take off, you think LeBron liftin/I'm off a Xan in the 5th, n*gga, my mind trippin"
Fellow LA rapper REASON comes in to tell the other side of the story on "LA Times." While Nana's character has tried to avoid the lures of life in the streets, REASON's is fully dedicated. He compares his legacy in the hood to the greatness of LeBron James, which is especially powerful now that King James brought the Lakers their 17th championship.
"King's Blvd 2"
"Sitting on a mountain higher than LeBron's arches"
"Understand I've been official, so I doubt your route"
"Never met Virgil, but you're pushing that Off-White"
King's Blvd 2 further paints the picture of life in Los Angeles, specifically on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in the heart of the district. This boastful track claims that he's got more clout than a LeBron James jumper as he surveys others plots to the top that he doesn't approve of. He's the referee of South Central. We also get a lil nod to Virgil Abloh, the founder of Off-White as his clothing has become a hot commodity like crack.
"On My Momma"
"Reminiscing back when I was hooping for a scholarship/Life had other plans, summertime did the opposite"
For many kids growing up in the hood, they have few options of how to get out and one of them is basketball. On the powerful track "On My Momma," Nana reflects on his own hoop dreams before life took him down a different path.
"I'm sitting in the crib unemployed/My dreams of the league are null and void"
Here, Nana continues to reflect on his shelved hoop dreams and also shares that his homie was able to get a scholarship because he was All-State (not the insurance company). It's clear that Nana has thoughts of what could have been, but he's found rapping as a decent option and we agree that he's found a good lane for himself.