Nas God’s Son

[Ill Will/Columbia; 2002]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: hip hop
Others: Wu-Tang, Screwball

I want to make one thing clear; I don’t usually review any album that I can find in The Source magazine.  The hip-hop game has taken a tremendous nose dive in the last five years, paving the way for huge corporations selling us entertainment like it was our last chance at fresh air. I still shake my head in disbelief when I see Method Man and Redman on television selling us deodorant. And if you don’t believe that the hip-hop game as changed, go to your local library and read the article found in The Sources’ January 2003 issue outlining “The Power 30”. Making money has become hip-hop’s game. Luckily, the underground has kept the game going in the right direction. Labels like Anticon and Def Jux have kept the dim light of hip hop shining.

So how can mainstream hip-hop travel back to its roots? The answer is simple. Perhaps everyone should follow in the footsteps of Nas. And before you pull your dusty and outdated magazines from the shelf, please let me explain. Back in 1994, Nas created Illmatic, one of hip-hop’s most flawless albums ever. Blending old and new school, Nas came out of Queensbridge as one of the most powerful, blazing and underrated emcee on the block (sorry MC Shan). His blueprint was simple; it was all about the streets. Rugged rhymes about hustling and boasting gave Nas the respect he deserved. So what changed him in the last eight years to turn this hip-hop emcee into a fading legend?  One answer comes to mind: MONEY. 

Now Nas is back with his new release called God’s Son. One glance at the cover made me remember that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The critic in me was painting images of Nas’ past efforts and I feared that this album would be the ultimate demise of the Queensbridge poet. Boy was I wrong!  Nas returns to his original blueprint of Illmatic to create a striking opus about religion, the streets and friendship. If you need further proof, check out “Made you Look”. The rhymes and beat do not get any grittier. The only downfall on the album is the MTV friendly “I Can”. The inclusion of this song halfway through the album breaks a near perfect ghetto story. The street is where Nas has created his original work, so why would he want to leave? Luckily, the album continues to amaze for the second half leaving you with no doubt about Nas’ reign as a New York emcee. 

Hip-hop’s chance of survival lies within each individual artist to hold on to something authentic about the culture. Money is not a valid part of the hip-hop lifestyle. Nas has identified this crisis and returns with his strong street credibility that works for him and expands it to create a dramatic look at today’s ghetto lifestyle. Other emcees should do the same and focus on what they bring to the game instead of creating personal rivalries such as Jay-Z……crap, I was hoping I wouldn’t mention his name. One up for Nas for keeping it real.

1. Get Down
2. The Cross
3. Made You Look
4. Last Real Nigga Alive
5. Zone Out performed by Nas / Bravehearts
6. Hey Nas performed by Nas / Kelis / Claudette Ortiz
7. I Can
8. Book of Rhymes
9. Thugz Mansion (N.Y.)
10. Mastermind
11. Warrior Song
12. Revolutionary Warfare
13. Dance
14. Heaven