THIS WILL BE THE LAST REVIEW FOR A WHILE BECAUSE I'M BUSY, BUT I'LL STILL CONTINUE NAS SEASON AND WRITE DOWN MY SCORES FOR ANY ALBUM I LISTEN TO IN THAT TIME ON MY OTHER ALBUM REVIEWS PAGE.
Nas season continues as we look at Nas' whopping 2004 double album - 'Street's Disciple'. He always wanted to make a double album, he just never got the chance to do it due to leaks, but after a fantastic album run in his discography - he took the risk to release this 25 track, hour and a half album - was the risk worth it for the listeners reward?
The production’s mixed, with some really good beats, like on 'Street's Disciple' which has these really angelic strings, and it's a great boom bap beat with vivid and detailed lyricism and it's basically just hood tails including their belief no one could ever leave the hood. Olu Dara's sampled hook was nice and yeah it’s a good song, but not the most gripping of tracks. There's also some bad instrumentals, like 'Rest of My Life', which isn't bad just pretty uneventful. Nas takes us on a journey as he tried to make in the rap game, how he never gave up and now reflects on where he is with some great storytelling, but this song (while not horribly bad), is just boring. I like the singing on the hook but the beat doesn’t do much for me, and I can’t say content wise it’s something we haven’t heard before. Like most Nas albums though, there’s just a lot of beats which aren’t bad they just don’t do much for me, like on 'Disciple', we get the bouncy piano keys, and fairly glossy atmosphere but it doesn't do much for me, as Nas comes with the complex lyricism with religious imagery to talk about him being the best and most authentic rapper out now, "Like Paul, Michael and Matthew, Peter, James and Andrew // Phillip, Simon and Judas -- I'm disciple of music // Street beats is the main thing minus the traitor". It's a hard hitter of a track, it’s good but can’t say I was too overly into it. Definitely more highlights than not, fairly mixed overall.
Nas is still a lyrical genius here, it’s not his best performance but even so it’s full of great lyricism, and more focus on punchlines and wordplay, which can be dumb but so funny, as on 'Nazareth Savage', "I had bad chicks that blow cum bubbles like bubblegum". The song is a warning to his competition in the rap game and anyone who wants to start with him, and it's another strong track with a really great flow and such energy on this track. There’s not as much storytelling here as there has been before, but when there is it’s really vivid, like on 'Live Now', "Picture my last days will be so grim // My daughter at my bedside, respirator in me // Eyes dilated, looking skinny, trying to smile, trying to say something // Whole room will quiet down just to hear my last words // Tears fall down my facial, why fear anything, it's now too late to // I'm dreaming of a time I was silked out at the peak of my career", as the songs theme is to live in the moment now and not fear what’s not already happened. Scarlett (I'll talk about more in the feature's section) is thankful to Nas for helping her and holding her down after Sekou died in the last track, and we get really heavy storytelling over a really slow instrumental, which again doesn’t do much for me but it links to last track, the first part being fine but the second part we see Sekhou’s wife’s (Scarlett) final words to Nas as she’s dying of AIDs, it’s a powerful verse and I find it so cool how it linked to the last track. There’s more examples on here though of dis-interesting lyrics from Nas, or just unsettling at times like on 'The Makings of a Perfect Bitch', "I stitch 'em together then I kiss 'em forever // These surgical gloves are made of love, couldn't be better // Four cycles of blood, child birth first // Men-e-stral cycle, last men-e-stral cycle then death", which is all about making the perfect girl in this mad scientist kind of way. There's some really enjoyable keys, kicks and snares on this track but overall it’s ass, again, the album has collapsed in on itself here, it’s just not interesting, it’s slightly weird and it isn’t what I listen to Nas for. It's still a top tier display just more filler lyricism than ever from Nas, but he still showcases his nice flow and a decent delivery.
The features are decent, they don’t all really make too much of an impact but some are good, such as Emily King on 'Reason' who's beautiful, angelic vocals steal the show, the show which takes different perspectives such as him being judged for the area he lives, a nanny who’s working so hard to put food on the table, a prostitute killing cop who’s molesting his son while his mum doesn’t bat an eye – no link between the stories, simple question of what’s the reason for what you do. Nas' lyricism is great and so is the storytelling over this guitar boom bap beat, which again is very poppy and sweet. The chorus is gorgeous, and Nas’ verses are fairly great but the mixing on them are slightly off, it doesn’t ruin the song though but definitely hinders it ever so slightly. Some are quite forgettable, like Maxwell on 'No One Else in the Room', who has really sharp vocals, enjoyable but not in love with them on this song about a girl he loves, when he’s with her where it feels just like him and her, again not the most interesting but cute again lyrically. The hollow drums were pretty meh and it's a mid track, not finding the love song’s thematically interesting, the beat’s are really watered down and the choruses aren’t landing as they should. I'd just prefer more rapper features if I’m honest, no one really got me too excited going into this. Now, Scarlett, is a feature on two tracks, including this one 'Sekou Story', and she's just Nas with a voice alter, it’s actually a bit weird but even so, not the worst thing I’ve heard. This song specifically tells the story of this guy Nas knew, he gave him money but he wound up dead now his girl wants Nas to find out who’s responsible for this (which is Scarlett). The beat was alright until the beat switch where it was this reggae inspired almost style, and the first half is just in your face storytelling, it’s pretty fire, the second half too, a flawed but high standard track.
His youth and come up is still touched on a lot here, like on 'War' which specifically focuses on his child, rap career and baby mama over a gentle, piano based beat. Keon Bryce again provides a great vocal performance, it's not my favourite feature though and overall it’s a fairly enjoyable song, not as good as the last but one of the highlights on disc 2 of 'Street’s Disciple'. Also talking about people who mean something to him pops up a lot, like girls he wants to marry, his baby mama and even his child, like on 'Me & You (Dedicated to Destiny)' which has this really shiny, soft and cute beat with heart warming lyrics. This song’s so gentle and cute, his singing (while not the best) is so passionate, I really enjoy this, a heart warming song. The key theme of this album – especially in disc 1 – is looking at social injustices and issues in the US, and Nas giving his thoughts on the matter, like on 'American Way' where we get a great political and socially conscious commentary, "The black vote mean nathan, who you gonna elect // Satan or Satan? In the hood nothin is changin, uh // We ain't got no choices who to choose // Ten-years ago they were tryin to stop our voices // And end Hip-Hop, they some hypocrites", with Nas speaking on how American politics have done nothing for the black community and how black women are wrongfully stereotyped over this really electronic, psychotic beat – it’s weird, not the greatest but not the worst. Nas was really going in on the verses, and despite a few flaws it’s still a great song, the first verse is truly the highlight of the song. He's steered away from the street life more, and it makes for a more entertaining listen at this stage of his career frankly.
Other tracks to look at include 'A Message to the Feds, Sincerely, We the People' has some enlightening lyrics with also some great, heavy bars to talk on racial problems in America including hood mentalities and prison statistics, "Hitchcock of Hip-Hop since Big Pop departed // The project logic is still salute the dead, Glocks spit". This slow piano beat and beat switch with a groovy guitar and heavy hitting drums is fantastic and Nas comes in so hard when it starts, the whole thing goes so vigorous and it’s a perfect start to this album. 'These Are Our Heroes' is Nas calling out black sell outs who are pampering to the white businesses or powerful figures with pretty interesting lyricism and very insightful lyrics too, over a really upbeat instrumental, light piano and groovy bass guitar. It’s a brave track, especially going at high profile black people, as a song it’s very bouncy and easy on the ears, can safely say while not Nas’ best piece of work it’s still a great track coming at the start of this album. 'Just a Moment' is all about taking a moment for those who have gone through a struggle to those that have died, have had horrible things happen to them, are single parents – pretty much everything, featuring Quan with really hard hitting lines and a rough delivery to match it, "Can we please have a moment for children // Who got raped or murdered or trapped in the system // Who never knew their father, never learned to dream // But was guided by drug dealers, killers and crack fiends". The hook and verses were solid, it’s a powerful song and I’d argue one of the highest highlights of the first disc with these glossy violins over this boom bap pattern and bass guitar.
'You Know My Style' covers Nas' style and choice in women with the sexual endeavours coming from that, with some questionable lyrics, "When she piss she gon' bleed in the whole stool // That's how much I wanna bang and touch her pretty thing". This heavy bass feels like a trap beat before trap elements were used and overall it’s a bit of a banger, I can’t say I love it but it’s definitely got some elements I enjoy like the confident delivery and the beat (which is weird but weirdly good). 'Suicide Bounce' has Nas reflecting on his dark thoughts and fears from people robbing him, his mother’s death etc. with a strong display of lyricism as Busta Rhymes' really aggressive hook fits in perfectly. This dramatic beat with deep drums and moody atmosphere is fine but overall it’s a weird one, it’s a fine song, Busta and Nas do great together with a entertaining flow from Nas, but the song just seems to never go anywhere, I enjoy it, I don’t particularly love, and it’s possible I never come back to it. 'U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)' manages to drop all the information and have his lyrics flow effortlessly together in a song dedicated to Rakim, acting as a biography. The really deep, heavy drums and bells, sounds pretty bad in my opinion, it’s just not eventful and overall it’s not good as a song - the beat’s poor and his delivery is just underwhelming, I like the idea and respect for him making a tribute for his idol but it didn’t come off well.
'Virgo' is about picking up hot girls in the club, and it's not lyrically crazy but some funny lines from Nas. Ludacris is really egotistical yet entertaining with the lyricism, "Little cute thing, said, "What's yo' name?" // I put my necklace in her face and told her read the chain (woo!) // Ooh-ooh, so stuck up, told me shut the fuck up", the flow and charisma as well really shines on this track as Doug E. Fresh's part is really jumpy and entertaining. The beat on this is so ass, it's just really clunky and unattractive and this isn’t the one either, they tried to make a banger but it flopped, the hook’s not horrible and Ludacris wasn’t bad either but Nas really was, but I still don’t enjoy more than 50% of this - it has certain elements I like so suppose it isn’t the worst on this album. 'Remember the Times' see's Nas reminisce on his ex-girlfriends and what they used to do together (mostly sexually) with the anecdotes flowing effortlessly and some share too much, funny, information, "Chelsea used to tell me choke her while I stroke her // Stuck a Heineken bottle up in the ass, a real joker // Used to run my bubble bath, tons of laughs, sexy chick // Nasty though, she used to try to eat my excrement". There's some nice horns, soothing keys, and great bass and overall it's not bad, but it is painfully mediocre. We're on a poor 3 track run here, it just doesn’t really interest but I admire the skill of the song. 'Getting Married' see's Nas ponder on the day he’ll get married to a girl, describing the wedding and the feelings he has for her over these catchy xylophones, a pretty simple beat but it works. This is better than the last few songs (which isn't hard), it’s still not quite the level of the first half of the CD though, I think it’s an alright song but I just can’t find myself getting a whole load of enjoyment out of it.
'Bridging the Gap' has Nas talk on his childhood with his dad and how he got him into music and kept him on the right tracks with nice storytelling and appreciative lyrics. Olu Dara take a bow, what a chorus from Nas’ father, really jazzy and a perfect performance for the mood of this track over the bouncy beat, with a great harmonica melody. Nas’ energy is finally up to scratch on this, I've been waiting for a great song for a lot of tracks now and finally got one of the highest quality. The final track to talk on this long, long album is the finale 'Thief's Theme'. It comes in with this mean, heavy bass guitar and screeching synths as Nas talks about the life in his hood as a criminal with great storytelling, reminiscent of the old Nas. It captures the mean tone right, and it’s fair to say it’s a good song and nice ending to the album.
To conclude, first thing to say – it’s long, it’s too long, and I can’t keep focus in one sitting, but, for a long album it’s fairly good, has some great highs and a lot of good songs. It obviously has some low points though as you can expect, where some experiments went wrong, some filler tracks, but not actually too many. The first CD is much better than the second definitely, the first side was very good but the second half just fell apart, some highlights but the middle section was horrible. Fairly get close to the bottom of Nas’ discography, but even that being said it isn’t “bad”.
FAVOURITE TRACKS: A Message to the Feds, Sincerely We the People, Nazareth Savage, American Way, These Are Our Heroes, Disciple, Sekou Story, Live Now, Just a Moment, Reason, You Know My Style, Street's Disciple, Bridging the Gap, War, Me & You (Dedicated to Destiny), Thief's Theme
LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: The Makings of a Perfect Bitch
OVERALL RATING: Light 7/10