God's Son represents a welcome return to form for the twenty-nine-year-old. Nas has rediscovered his introspective side at a time when a lot of mainstream hip-hop has been getting drearily dramatic and self-serious. Discounting his penchant for rote hyperbole (he calls himself "the last real nigga alive"), and some pro-forma shout-outs to God and Biggie, Nas is deft with sorrow-tinged details -- about everything from drug addiction to the rap game to failed love.
The music -- mostly a dark, sparse boom-bap -- follows Nas' shrewd, crafty approach. The James Brown sample on "Get Down" is an old-school gesture, but it makes for the album's best track, as Nas' quick-tongued monotone elegantly folds together tales of street violence and his own rise to fame. Elsewhere he and a sampled Tupac trade soul-baring verses with nothing but an acoustic guitar backing them, and on the Eminem-produced "The Cross," Nas indulges his Jesus complex over a thin piano loop.
Nas falters halfway through, drifting off into boring-ass filler, the worst of which is "I Can," a silly stay-in-school ad attached to a Beethoven sample. But even on the worst tracks, Nas' talent is still impossible to deny, and he may yet have another masterpiece in him. Either way, he's hip-hop's Comeback Playa of the Year.
(RS 914 – January 3, 2003)
(Posted: Dec 30, 2002)
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- Get Down
- The Cross
- Made You Look
- Last Real N**** Alive
- Zone Out (featuring Bravehearts)
- Hey Nas (featuring Kelis/Claudette Ortiz)
- I Can
- Book Of Rhymes
- Thugz Mansion (N.Y.) (featuring 2Pac/J Phoenix)
Warrior Song (featuring Alicia Keys) (track not available in Rhapsody)
- Revolutionary Warfare (featuring Lake)