16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
God's Son brings the Holy Spirit, 13 Dec 2002
If you are talking straight lyricists - artists who can paint pictures in your mind with the use of clever wordplay, metaphors and words with double-meanings, it doesn't get any better than Nas and GZA. Both steeped in consciousness, MC battles, commercial success and New York City folklore, you would be hard-pressed to find any two MCs better than the Queens and Brooklyn-natives.
God's Son Across The Belly
This may be Nas' best album, lyrically. And in a pure sign of maturation and self-confidence, Nas selected production that is complimentary rather than overpowering. The music plays more like a soundtrack than a jukebox. To flip a phrase from Jadakiss : Nas doesn't use beats for help, he helps the beats.
God's Son is a theme album, a rare occurrence in Hip-Hop, where an artist is able to stay disciplined enough to emphasize a handful of important points over music that forces you to listen to the album rather than simply bump it in your system or leave it on as background music. No track-skipping necessary. You actually want to go where Nas is taking you.
Don't get it wrong, cuts like "Made You Look," "Revolutionary Warfare," and those on a bonus disc (there are 17 tracks altogether), certainly make your head bob and nod, but the star of the show is Nas' matchless ability to paint a picture. He is Hip-Hop's best pure novelist. Not story-teller, but novelist. On this album Nas shows that there is a difference.
Anyone who missed the Nasty Nas who blazed "New York State of Mind" in his 1994 debut album, Illmatic, need not worry, he has returned, as God's Son. And you don't have to wait long, Nas sets it off in the album's first track, "Get Down," (murdering an instrumental that Wise Intelligent from the Poor Righteous Teachers obliterated almost 12 years ago). That same flow of commentary, description and parables is evident on virtually every other cut on the album. Nas thoroughly addresses Jay-Z's legitimate criticism and that of others over which Nas will appear today - the materialistic, misogynist player; or the grand wazier? On this album Nas is 90% wise man. Finally.
The track that is sure to get everyone's attention - indeed already has everyone talking - is "Last Real N**** Alive" where Nas takes you behind the genesis of some of the drama taking place in the early '90s NYC Hip-Hop scene between Bad Boy (Biggie) and Wu-Tang (Raekwon) and Nas' relationship with both, and he even fits Jay-Z's emergence into that context. Deep and short. Nas gets it all done in a couple of minutes.
The initial reaction to learning that DJ Premier, Large Professor and Irv Gotti were nowhere to be found was that of surprise. It appeared that Nas was committed to marrying his foundational style with hot commercial tracks and an established squad. It looked like finally Nas might be able to have the best of both worlds, if he could figure out how to merge properly with Ja' Rule and Ashanti without having to show us how down with Murder Inc. he really was. Handsigns and all.
Nas obviously thought better of it and decided that his soul was more important than having it all. He "found" a gem of a producer in Salaam Remi, who has been putting it down for years, and an a la carte of production from Eminem, Alchemist, Chucky Thompson and even Alicia Keyes. Don't know how, but it works. Not necessarily feeling the collaboration with 2Pac in "Thugz Mansion" or "Zone Out" which features Bravehearts but these are a mere distraction rather than a disruption that destroys the album flow.
Don't expect Stillmatic II. It isn't that kind of party. Nas is more sage and teacher than baller or avenging rapper. He's social commentator, "Look how we treat pregnancy, women in the 'hood. Our values so low. Our values are no good." ("Book of Rhymes"); He's Big Brother, "B-boys and B-girls, listen up, you can be anything in the world , in God we trust. An architect, doctor, maybe an actress, but nothing comes easy it takes much practice..." ( "I Can"). And most poignantly of all he's a grieving son, mourning the loss of his mother on "Dance."
He is - God's Son, with the soul and Holy Spirit of Hip-Hop.