When Nick Jonas unveiled the tracklist for Last Year Was Complicated back in March, we learned that he nabbed features from Tove Lo, Big Sean, Ty Dolla $ign, and... Allen Iverson?! Sure enough, the NBA legend’s name made the cut, leaving everyone several weeks to prepare their bodies for the presumed resurrection of Iverson’s (sorry, Jewelz’s) short-lived rap career.
Thankfully, though, his involvement on LYWC doesn’t include spitting bars. It’s ever better: Jonas heavily samples Iverson’s “practice” rant on album closer “Comfortable.”
For those unfamiliar with the infamous tirade, here’s what you need to know: The year was 2002. Iverson was the Philadelphia 76ers’ star player and had been named the league’s MVP that year. Following the 76ers’ loss in the first round of the playoffs, though, head coach Larry Brown criticized Iverson for missing team practices. Iverson responded to the gripe in a press conference, during which he hilariously said the word “practice” 22 times in a span of two minutes.
For Jonas to use a good chunk of Iverson’s 14-year-old rant is confusing, sure, but it feels weirdly appropriate for “Comfortable,” which takes an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. The verses drip with brooding R&B swagger, but the tempo picks up drastically with a fleet-footed chorus resembling Naughty Boy’s “Runnin’ (Lose It All).” All the while, Jonas is questioning his lover but then repeatedly telling her, “My faith in you is very comfortable for me.”
A shoutout to Jonas’s buddy Jay Z and a short, twinkling piano solo tie it all together, but not before Iverson’s random interjection: “We talking about practice. Not a game, not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? ... I’m not shoving it aside like it don’t mean anything.”
“Comfortable” is a surprisingly upbeat conclusion to LYWC, an album punctuated by confusion and heartache, that seesaws between rage and vulnerability. That also makes the track an important, revealing indicator of Jonas’s current state of mind. Perhaps Iverson implies it best: Love is a game, and Jonas’s failed relationship -- the one he mourns all album long -- was just practice for the real thing.