REVIEW: Nas – Street’s Disciple

Street's Disciple

Artist: Nas

Album: Sreet’s Disciple

Label: Columbia

Rating: 7 / 10

Reviewer: Teri

The god’s son has hit us with his latest, and judging from this album Nas is as much of a rapper as a preacher and poet. Every time a new Nas album hits the shelves the same question is on everyone’s lips – Is it worthy to stand beside “Illmatic”? So far the answer has always been ‘not quite’, and it STILL is – but for any Nas fans this album will not disappoint. “Street’s Disciple” is Nas’ longest album, a double cd effort, but don’t be fooled by the length of the track list – Nas has in no way favoured quantity over quality.

The album starts with an ambiguous intro, which leads into a powerful first track, ‘Message To The Feds, Sincerely, We The People’. Which is basically an extended ‘Fuck You’ said slightly more articulately. The track begins with the same mellow piano beat of the intro, which then leads into a faster and harsher beat as the lyrics become more aggressive.

“A message to those who trapped us up, from federal guys who backed them up
We never will die, we black and tough, lead in you eye, we strapped to bust.”

The next track ‘Nazareth Savage’ contains the kind of old school beat that can often be expected from any Nas album, but the repetitive and redundant nature of the beat however doesn’t do justice to Nas’ rich lyrics.

Nas’ future wife Kelis pops up on the album several times, with the first collaboration occurring in the political, paradoxical track ‘American Way’. This song basically takes a look at the state of American politics and the lack of African American representation in the White House.

“Vote for who now? You’re red white and blue?
I’m American too, but I ain’t with the president’s crew
What you peddlin’ and who you peddlin’ to?
You ain’t got the ghetto with you.”

The chorus is then handed over to Kelis who sings with a sense of irony ‘That’s the American Way’. A quirky and clever song.

The album continues with its upbeat atmosphere through the songs ‘These Are Our Heroes’ where Nas disses so called African American heroes and then again without a sense of irony disses himself. The atmosphere becomes more serious with ‘Disciple’ which would be a quality song if not for the ever so annoyingly repetitive chorus. And the chorus and lyrics have a lot of energy, which isn’t reflected in the flat beat.

We are introduced to Scarlett for the first time in ‘Sekou Story’, which starts as an upbeat old school track but switches its tone when the subject of the story dies. The pace slows dramatically, then speeds up again with a more serious tone, Scarlett comes in with a funky intro and a flow that can’t be described in any other words than shit hot.

“Forget about them dudes, they talkin’ to me rude
Cause I always knew the truth, they hated Sekou
H2 full of holes, they drove him off the road
Left him there on his ‘caine, clothes stained with his brain.”

We hear from Scarlett again in the next track ‘Live Now’ where the tempo of the album slows down, and only becomes slower still in the next track ‘Rest of My Life’ with Amerie’s mushy vocals all over the chorus. ‘Live Now’ however works well as a poignant song and Scarlett drops more excellent lyrics. ‘Rest of My Life’ however doesn’t quite work as well, with Amerie’s slightly too angelic vocals contrasting harshly with Nas’s sharp lyrics and pulling the song down.

The pace remains the same in ‘Just a Moment’, which heavily features Quan. There’s little to fault here – the beat works well for what the song actually is and Quan injects his unique lyrical style and harmonising vocals in the chorus. Yet another slow song follows in ‘Reason’ where Nas uses female vocals on the hook again, though this time they blend much better with Nas’ lyrics than the previous Amerie track.

The beat finally picks up again over the next few tracks. Nas hits us with the impressive ‘You Know My Style’, which is sure to get heads nodding again with its bouncing 80’s style beat and massive bass. ‘Suicide Bounce’ meanwhile combines a powerful beat and an appearance from Busta Rhymes song to produce a witty shot at any Nas haters,

“We possess, the recipes for death, cause jealousy destroys
Feed the dog first, watch out for salmonella poisoning
I know a kid who’ll throw shit in your food
And say, “That’s the way to kill a man, avoid the shooting.”

A really hot song but would have been good to hear Busta actually spit a verse or two.

The title track, and ‘UBR’ are both devoted to telling life stories, with Nas first telling his own story (with the help of his father) in ‘Streets Disciple’ and then breaking down the unauthorised biography of his idol, Rakim over some beats.

‘Virgo’ features Doug E Fresh’s beat box style beat Ludacris playing the Slick Rick role. Luda. as always, doesn’t disappoint with his clever and even funnier rhymes,

“Now I was so fresh and so fly in diamonds
When I stepped in the club even my eyes was shinin’ (bling)
A little cute thing said ‘what’s your name?’
I put my necklace in her face and said ‘Read the chain’.”

The next few songs are dedicated to Kelis, ‘Remember The Times’ reminisces on Nas’ sexual past and then claims, “none of them can touch you”. Throughout this cut Nas uses his phenomenal skill to make talk of the dirtiest type sound tasteful. The album goes on to describe ‘The Perfect Bitch’ which is pretty self explanatory and not overly impressive as a track all in all. ‘Wedding Day’ is a slightly sentimental song but doesn’t lack quality before Nas then switches to 80’s style slow jam vocals in ‘No One Else in The Room’.

The most original track on the album ‘Bridgin the Gap’ then follows. This is the second release from the album and features Nas’ blues musician father Olu Dara. This track uses a brilliant mixture of blues and hip hop in the beat and the vocals from Olu Dara and Nas. This song talks of the influence Nas’ father had on his own music,

“Bridgin the gap from the blues, to jazz to rap
The history of Music on this track
Born in the game, discovered my fathers music
Like prince, searching through boxes of purple rain.”

‘War’, ‘Me and You (dedicated to Destiny)” and the rough ghetto-inspired ‘Thieves Theme’ round off a long but excellent album that definitely fares well against its predecessor “God’s Son”. There’s definitely a load of quality tracks but not many that truly stand out and really portray Nas’ lyrical skill in the way that previous tracks such as ‘One Mic’ and ‘Undying Love’ did. Though the majority of Nas’ lyrics are faultless, the same can’t be said for all the beats, but fortunately the rhymes hold together the songs with weaker beats and don’t damage the tracks too much. I give this inspiring album a 7/10.

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