Nas - Street's Disciple    
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written by Low Key    
"Street’s Disciple, my raps are trifle". 13 years since those immortal words were spoken by Nas on his classic debut "Live At The Barbeque", God's Son is back to show you "how to blow on your eight LP". While much has been made of Nas' hypocritical ways over the years, one thing is for certain, Nas knows who he is on Street’s Disciple. The maturation of Nasir Jones has never been more evident, as he delivers a conceptually brilliant album. Nas touches on a variety of issues, ranging from marriage to family and politics, making for one of the year's best records.

As with any double album, one disc ultimately overshadows the other. On Street’s Disciple, disc one easily outshines the second. "A Message To The Feds, Sincerely, We The People" finds Nas opening the album with some political rage, addressing the society that has attacked and imprisoned his people for decades. Over Chucky Thompson's lush keys, Salaam Remi's light guitar riffs and L.E.S.' accentuate drums; Nas delivers one of his strongest tracks in years. Nas' political angst continues on "American Way", which finds Nas reuniting with Q-Tip for the first time since Illmatic. While the outcome this time around is not as monumental, Tip's funky George Clinton "Atomic Dog" sample gives Nas the right backdrop to dish out his lyrical shots at political figures such as Condoleezza Rice. "Ten-years ago they were trying to stop our voices, and end Hip-Hop, they some hypocrites. Condoleezza Rice, I don't really get this chick. Tell her if she ever really cared about poor schools, about poor children, then she gotta prove that she ain't just another coon Uncle Tom fool".

Nas continues to unleash more punishment on the controversial "These Are Our Heroes". Unlike the majority of the Hip Hop industry who are afraid to speak their minds, Nas knows no such boundaries and takes some vicious shots at Kobe Bryant, and others who he labels as "acceptable negros". While Buckwild's lighthearted production effort lacks the intensity and emotion needed, Nas' strong message is enough for the track to succeed. The socially conscious "Reason" is another standout effort, as Nas addresses the hardships that individuals in his community are faced with everyday. Through tracks such as the aforementioned ones, it is clear that Nas has matured a great deal and is now concerned with getting his message across instead of appealing to the masses.

While most of Street’s Disciple carries such a strong message, fans are still treated to those vintage Nasir Jones street cuts on disc 1. Salaam Remi's haunting beat on "Nazareth Savage" propels Nas to deliver one of his best lyrical performances on the album. The Kool G. Rap inspired "Disciple" is another dark street anthem, as Nas flows in and out of L.E.S.' hypnotizing beat. The heat continues throughout disc 1, as songs such as "Rest Of My Life", "Live Now" and "Sekou Story" are all solid attempts. In fact, there are only two average songs on the first disc. The overused "Will You Cry" sample on "Just A Moment" is a bland dead homies effort that epitomizes what filler material is all about. In addition, the old school throwback jam "You Know My Style" continues the tradition of lackluster commercial tracks from Nas, as he water downs his lyrics greatly.

Although disc one of Street’s Disciple is almost perfect, disc two is unfortunately a little disappointing. The middle half of the album finds Nas wrapped up in his love affair with Kelis and ultimately the album suffers from it. "The Makings Of A Perfect Bitch" is a boring and atrocious effort from Nas, as his playa tales are extremely uninspiring, as is L.E.S.' sub par production effort. Even worse is the wedding party anthem "No One Else In The Room" featuring Maxwell. While Salaam Remi's horn and trumpet arrangement adds some flavor to the end of the song, the overall bouncy vibe is awkwardly thrown together with Maxwell's signing and Nas' forgettable lyrics. Equally as disappointing is the lead single "Bridging The Gap" featuring Nas' father Olu Dara. Nas once again dumb downs his lyrics over Salaam Remi's jacking of Muddy Waters. In addition, Nas' dedication to his daughter Destiny on "Me & You" suffers from his lurid signing.

While disc two certainly hinders Street’s Disciple from being the classic that many hoped for, it still features some amazing songs that should not be overlooked. Busta Rhymes lends his vocals to the hook of "Suicide Bounce", as Nas rides his own beat to perfection. The dark and moody keys and cello on "Street’s Disciple" makes for a vintage Nasty Nas track. While "U.B.R." finds Nas paying homage to Rakim by running through the history of the god emcee. But disc two's finest effort is the sultry smooth jazz influenced "War". Keon Bryce's crooning adds a perfect Saturday afternoon feel, while Salaam Remi throws in some captivating trumpets and strings to smooth things over even more.

With Street’s Disciple, you are witnessing the complete maturation of Nasir Jones. Conceptually only a few albums in the last three years can stand up to what Nas has produced. However, the album is still not without its faults. The production could have been better in certain spots and ultimately the two discs could have been cut down to one classic album. Nevertheless, Nas has finally discovered the man inside on Street’s Disciple and as expected, the results are extraordinary.

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