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Nas - Crowned At Last,
This review is from: God's Son (Audio CD)
Nas could truly be described as an enigma. It could hardly be believed that back in 1999 the blatant commercialism of "Nastradamus" could've been produced by the same man who had created such a hip hop masterpiece in the form of "Illmatic" (1994). All hope was lost for the man once known as Nasty Nas.
Fast forward to 2000.
The rejuvination appeared very low key - on a guest appearance on "The W" on "Let My Niggas Live", where flickers of the old Nas had fainlly appeared, repreising the old chemistry between Nas and The Wu Tang back in 1995 on the classic "Verbal Intercourse".
Then the well publicised beef with Jay-Z over the rights to the moniker of "King Of NYC", which subsequently produced the best out of both artists, Jay Z's "The Blueprint" and Nas' almost miraculous ressurection on "Stillmatic".
Nas Escobar was no more. Nasty Nas had returned. However, after the rumours of Nas signing with the all-singing, all-dancing chart flash of Ja Rule and his Murder Inc cohorts, Nas' reputation and integrity were in doubt with many fans. Would Nasty Nas make way for Nastradamus on this new release?
Nasty Nas is here to stay. "God's Son" opens with a rousing James Brown sample on "Get Down", narrating street scenarios reminiscent of "Ny State Of Mind". "The Cross" is an Eminem produced track which comes off slow and menacing, allowin Nas to steady his flow and blast R&B rappers "f*cking up the game horribly". "Last Real Nigga Alive" displays an ambient yet terse beat that chronicles everythign from the formation of Wu Tang to Raekwon's rivalry with The Notorious B.I.G. over biting. (Raekwon had accused Biggie of copying Nas' Illmatic cover on Biggie's debut LP "Ready To Die".) Jay-Z isn't left alone either, a chilling line is reserve especially for HOVA. "I Can" containts a beautiful piano sample and a very wholesome message for children, with an uplifting chorus also.
Other standout tracks include "Thugz Mansion", with Tupac Shakur letting loose a verse from beyond the grave, over a gentle acoustic guitar. "Book Of Rhymes" showcases Nas' old rhymebook as he flips through pieces of verses over a mellow, blunted Alchemist beat. What makes this song so original is as soon as he thinks a line is weak he flips the next page to start a brand new verse. "Dance" is an ode to Nas' reccently deceased mother Ann Jones, asking her for "one last dance". This track is truly a tear-jerker, with a sorrowful beat and a haunting, anguished horn solo from Nas's father, Olu Dara.
The album signals the return of one of the greatest hip hop artists to have ever put music on wax. Amazing song concepts and storytelling pack this album, and is perhaps his most complete piece of work since "Illmatic", and even in some departments even surpassing his debut. Unlike Stillmatic's rushed production, the beats on this flow seamlessly toghether, and most of Stillmatic's weaknesses have become God's Son's strengths. "God's Son" is Nas' most emotional and innovative material to date, you'll be hard pressed to find a better album this year.
Nasty Nas sits on the throne again.