Nas and Erykah Badu collaborated to create a new sound over an old, reminiscent track for the soundtrack of the film “The Land,” which premiered July 29th.
The song, while slow and brooding, remains true to the artists’ styles, as Nas pays tribute to his New York childhood and the struggles that came along with fighting for success. Meanwhile, Badu sustains her ethereal vocals as she sings of the pain the bitter earth inflicts upon its inhabitants.
“This Bitter Land” perfectly reflects the theme of the movie, as “The Land” focuses on a group of teenagers struggling to thrive in the Cleveland underground Hip-Hop scene. Nas and Erykah Badu speak of hard work and its fruitlessness in such an infertile environment, and the ongoing struggle to remain hopeful despite the unfortunate situation.
The track is made even more influential given that it takes inspiration from Dinah Washington’s famous song “This Bitter Earth.” While the sample isn’t from the original song—it actually derives from a remix concocted by the creators of “Shutter Island’s” soundtrack—it carries the same tired, despondent feeling. Badu opens and immediately calls to mind the old souls of music, primarily Nina Simone, as she stretches her voice over minimal string instruments. Nas then enters, strongly emphasizing a lifestyle of running, from past evils, from future struggles, and the endlessness in the cycle of despair. While the song is majorly melancholy, it still drops a single note of hope to ease the misery at the end, with Badu belting out that the bitter land can’t end the fight to survive, and flourish.
“The Land” was executively co-produced by Nas and Machine Gun Kelly, but they are not the only big names from the music industry who were involved in the making of the film. Kanye West, French Montana, Pusha T, and, of course, Erykah Badu, to name a few, all contributed songs to the movie. The full soundtrack has been released on the same day as the movie.