In 2001, with his platinum-selling Stillmatic, Nas created a classic chronicle of the streets and reclaimed his title as King of New York Rap -- the city's best MC and most authentic hip-hop hero. But Nas has always told those who listened close that the name of the game for him was never money, cash, or hoes. For Nas knowledge is king: knowledge of the world, of the rap game, and most important, knowledge of self. So it's only fitting that this year's new testament, God's Son, should showcase a deeper and more mature lyrical journey.
The past year of Nas' life has seen both enormous success and personal tragedy. Following the release of Stillmatic came his heavily praised compilation The Lost Tapes. But during the year, Nas also lost his beloved mother to cancer and this tragedy affected him more than any musical success or failure possibly could. God's Son might be the first hardcore hip-hop album that also pays loving tribute to the artist's mother. On the album's final two tracks, "Dance" and "Heaven," Nas depicts, with heartbreaking honesty, the emotions his mother's death evoked: sadness and despair and fear, but also love and hope and bittersweet memories.
But before Nas gets to the more serious business at hand there are some scores to settle first. God's Son's lead single, "Made You Look," is a slice of hardcore street hip-hop that's been blasting from every car on every corner in every hood since the moment it dropped. "You a slave to a page in my rhyme book" is Nas' take on all the backstabbing pretenders who've come after him in the past few years. On "The Cross" -- produced by Eminem -- Nas mentions no names but takes deadly aim at phony thugs and R&B pseudo-rappers. "The Cross" is Nas' proclamation of the unmatched wisdom and experience he's gained in his struggle to the top. "There's a new king of the streets/I was the old king of the streets that y'all once hated/and now I reinvented myself and y'all waited." "Last Real Nigga Alive" provides a detailed history of Nas' entire career as well as his relationship with the late Notorious B.I.G. and his over-hyped feud with Jay-Z. Here Nas describes himself as the rapper's rapper: the one that real heads will always be sure to choose in a battle.
Nas has always been considered a gifted MC since his voice first graced wax in 1991 on Main Source's "Live at the BBQ." This cameo led to Nas' classic debut lllmatic, in which Nas painted unforgettable portraits of his hustlin' days in the notorious Queensbridge Projects while vividly detailing the struggles of everyday ghetto living. The Village Voice hailed Nas as "easily one of the most important writers of the century." On his multi-platinum-selling albums It Was Written (1996) and I Am... (1999) and the platinum Nastradamus (1999), Nas went on to pioneer the Mafioso trend in rap, writing songs as dense and action-packed as a gangster movie, while working with some of the biggest stars in the hip-hop galaxy. 2001's Stillmatic -- featuring the hit single "One Mic" -- reminded everyone who may've forgotten that Nas was still a lyrical force to be reckoned with. Nas' resume boasts a dozen years of hip-hop experience which encompasses six solo albums and various group projects -- a span of success unmatched by any hardcore MC. It's the wealth of this experience that Nas draws upon to create his seventh full-length album, the groundbreaking God's Son.
"Thugz Mansion" begins with the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar and finds Nas rhyming about helping a young black man in danger, because "every thug's face is my mirror." The second verse is performed by the late Tupac Shakur -- permission to use this powerful recording was given to Nas by the Shakur estate -- and the combination of these two brilliant street poets rapping together is both eerie and unforgettable. God's Son's mixing of the sacred with the profane is most evident on the album's last few cuts. "Warrior Song" -- produced by and featuring Alicia Keys -- presents an unorthodox definition of a warrior: a man who's not only strong in battle but fully present for his mother and daughter when times are rough. "Dance" is Nas' plaintive desire for just one more dance with his beloved mother and showcases the emotional depth and lyrical complexity that have always been his trademarks. The track's haunting coda comes from Olu Dara, internationally famous jazz trumpeter and Nas' father.
On God's Son, Nas has reached a level of lyrical skill and personal maturity that may be unprecedented in hip-hop. Nas provides a whole new dimension to the often hackneyed phrase "keep it real." "Real" to Nas means a fully-realized life with all its pains and struggles. Like jazz greats Charlie Parker or John Coltrane at their peaks, Nas' musical skills grow larger and more complex with each offering. With God's Son, Nas proves once again that all he needs is one mic to change the world.
-- from official Nas UK Web site at http://www.sonymusic.co.uk/nas/intro.html
--- from the official NaS website