Amidst the current global pandemic, it came as a surprise when Toronto rapper Nav announced the release of his fifth studio debut album Good Intentions, the follow up to Bad Habits. Unfortunately – across the 18 track album – Good intentions is a surprising failure. Surprising not because of how spectacularly Nav fails but because of how much Nav sticks to what has failed him in the past.
Good Intentions may be Nav’s new album but as soon as he opens his mouth he emits staleness. Bragging that your “diamonds need psychologist, they going insane” in triplet flows sounded cool in 2016. In 2020, it’s mundane. The overall composition and execution is what you would expect: moody trap beats, accompanied by emotionless verses. Nav raps about opulence and women, he’s a flexer but when you’re flexing the exact same things the exact same way for four years straight, it’s hard to find reasons to care. On previous releases, Nav was indistinguishable from his contemporaries but now – without any growth – he has become easily distinguished: he’s the worst among them.
For all its monotony however, Good Intentions isn’t a complete wasteland – it’s a playground for Nav’s features. Nav’s project is backed by slick production yet he’s just unable to make each song pop on his own and his guests consistently outshine him.. ‘My Business,’ the hurried Sci-fi trap banger is met by Nav’s monotone delivery but carried by a top-4 Future feature equipped with sound effects (brr, brr), slick flow switches and self-hyping adlibs. While Nav never modulates his voice, Future moves from his usual warble, to an endearing Young Thug impression as “me and my slimes gon’ handle that business.”
Another highlight of Good Intentions – ‘Turks’ – further speaks to the success of Nav’s guestlist over the artist himself. This song’s hypnotic nature incorporates a grimy, synth-leaden instrumental, and vocals from Gunna and Travis Scott, two of the strongest rappers in the game right now. Harmoniously, the trio keep the energy high and the chorus is more than satisfactory. Other guests include Lil Uzi Vert, Pop Smoke, Young Thug, Don Toliver, and Lil Durk, each finding varying levels of success. When Nav’s sound switches to the glum keys and sparse 808s of ‘Run It Up’ Pop Smoke spits a ghastly verse from beyond the grave. Hushed and unhurried he delivers like a fourth Migo as Nav continues his monotonous triplet tirades.
Unfortunately, Good Intentions is robbed of any goodwill it may have built up with these features when Nav places himself front and centre. The wildly anticipated ‘Brown Boy’ is borderline unbearable as Nav sings, “He the one I hate the most, brown boy” in a nasal-y like tone, hardly packing any power into his verses. On ‘Overdose’, Nav overuses the hackneyed triplet flow while pleading “Sometimes I hope I overdose, just to get all of my problems solved”. The monotony continues through his drab sentimental cuts like ‘She Hurtin’ and ‘My Space’, which could provide emotional weight to the project if Nav did anything to evoke it. Nav has been “Searchin’ for a girl like you,” but his infamous robo-voice robs him of sensitivity when his simple heartfelt lyrics sound like love letters read by Microsoft Sam. Raw and emotional is hard to pull off when wearing an audio mask with dismal vocal range.
The remainder of Good Intentions is passionless, choppy, and tedious. Surprisingly, there are not too many memorable tracks that make the cut. As an artist, Nav has not evolved much since his Soundcloud days. The shoddy lyrics, repetitive flows, emotionless voice and creative scarcity are issues Nav’s latest releases all share and they’ve been there since his debut. Nav’s growth is non-existent so while there is still room for him to improve, as he continues to gain commercial success, it’s hard to see why he’ll ever change.