on 14 December 2001
First off, let me just that that this is not Nasty Nas. It isn't the ghetto poet, nor is it the Escobar thug or the prophet Nastradamus; this is Nasir Jones, plain and simple, with enough semblance of the afore-mentioned personnas to keep his old fans happy and enough charisma to gain new ones. As Nas has recenlty been stating in interviews, this is a new beginning, and what a rebirth it is too. "Stillmatic [Intro]" sets the perfect tone for the whole album; Hangmen 3 blaze the track and Nas finally spits over one his intro beats, telling us from the off that he's not out to make another Illmatic, making this an excellent beginning to 2001's finest album. "Ether" is his lyrical retort to Jay-Z's Takeover, and the song single-handedly ends all rumours about Nasir's demise; the barbs fired in this song range from satirical "Is he Dame Diddy, Dame Daddy or Dame Dummy? Oh I get it, you're Biggie and he's Puffy" to all out Nasty "You're a fan, a phoney, a fake, a pussy, a Stan/ I'd still whip your ass/ You're 36 in a karate class?!?". The first single, "Got yourself a Gun" is good for it's intended purpose; the lyrics are a bit watered down, but Nas watered down is still better than 90% of the emcees out there today. "Smokin'" is a bit too generic for my liking; the lyrics are on point, yes, but the beat leaves a little to be desired. "You're the man" is my vote for track of the year. Extra P laces the track beautifully and Nas' rhymes are nothing short of amazing, for example "But wait a sec' give me time to explain/ Women and fast cars, and, diamond rings could poison a rap star/ Was suicidal, high smoke and so much lye/ I saw dead birds flying through a broken sky". Nas is on top form throughout the entire song, the lyrics need to be heard to be believed. "Rewind" is one of the most ambitious songs in rap's history, where Nas tells a wicked tale backwards over another Large Professor gem; I thought this was as good as it gets, until the CD reached track seven. Words cannot describe how ill "One Mic" is...produced by Nas himself, his flow starts off calm and calculated, but by the end of the first verse he is in a frenzy, yelling at the top of his voice, absolutely molesting the microphone; upon hearing this track, I cannot fathom how Jay-Z's "The Blueprint" is hailed as a classic when this one song on it's own is nicer than 80% of the album. Instead of perhaps moving on to an album filler, Nas hits us with yet anopther classic track in the form of "Second Childhood"; as per usual, the combination of Nas and DJ Premier is as potent as any combination of producer and emcee in the industry; In my eyes this is like a 2001 update of 1994's timeless classic "Memory Lane". Track Nine is Nas' lyrical molesting of Cormega, Prodigy and Nature, where he tears into "Cory" and with one verse serves every verse Mega aimed at Nas on "The Realness". "The Flyest" is the reunion of long-time rhyme partners Nas and AZ, and have no doubt about it, this track is NICE; The last verse where they trade bars with each other is the perfect way to end another excellent Nas/AZ collaboration. "Braveheart Party" isn't exactly the Nas we have come to know and love, but it does it's purpose as a great club banger nonetheless. Next up it's Nas 2001 update of "If I Ruled the World", with this outing sampling the Tears for Fears Number 1 hit, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". The sample is the perfect backdrop for Nas' awesome lyrics of World unification...if Nasir were to release this as a second single, the album would blow up massively. "My Country" is Nas' take on the current status of America; the hook is reminiscant of the bootleg track "Day Dreamin [Stay Schemin]" as it has Nas singing...another undeniably dope song from Mr. Jones. "Poison" could be perceived as quite controversial, but make no mistake about it, this track is bananas, the acoustic guitar is off the hook. L.E.S. shows up for his mandatory appearance on "Every Ghetto", lacing Nas with another gem which Nasir doesn't let go to waste, showcasing again why Nas truely is the "King of New York". If this album wasn't proof enough for you, you need your head examined...why are you still reading? Go order it...you won't be dissappointed.