It would appear Nas has been busy since dropping his last LP “Stillmatic”. Since then he has managed to put out a lost tapes collection, a remix collection as well as his latest LP “God’s Son”. At this point Nas has little to prove to the industry or to the streets, he can without a doubt produce, flow and look the part of a street warrior without breaking stride. He managed to pack in 7 guest appearances throughout the span of these 14 tracks which is probably be a record for him as he prides himself on being able to hold down a track by his lonesome. He’s arguably sitting as king of the east coast rap game, will he be dethroned?
“God’s Son” opens up with “Get Down”, laden with trumpets, pianos and a bassline that will invoke a 70’s memory, even if you weren’t born yet. The hook is so simplistic yet very effective that it will be ringing in your ears, so far Nas is off to a good start. We move on to “The Cross” with a very slow beat with a scratch at the end of the bar. Mr. Jones decides to let the streets know that he’s carrying ‘the cross’ of the rap game, and calls out various people as well as methods of rap such as the use of R&B hooks, but isn’t he rumored to be hooking up with Irv Gotti? Anyway, just a self-hyped up track not worth hearing more than twice.
Moving on to “Made You Look” we are once again transported to the past via the beat, this time we are transported into the late 80s with Nas’ updated verbal spit. I think we have our official first track gone to absolute waste. Production is all off, the voice/beat mixture doesn’t work at all, the beat is just plain wack, and it ends with an acapella finish which is also horrid.
“Last Real Nigga Alive” is another detriment to this CDs name. It’s as if the kick drum and clap was stolen from “Thriller” and mixed with a synth from “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind”, the hook is wasted oxygen that will only stress trees and their liberal counterparts.
If out of place tracks is the objective, then “Zone Out” fits right in. The beat consists of a kick and snare played in reverse, and a background that makes you wonder if Nas couldn’t afford Neptunes and took the next best thing, which is still wasted money making me wish Nas had ponied up the dough for the real thing. Oh yea, the Bravehearts are on here too, and they are also out of place. Sloppy hook, sloppy beat, decent lyrics makes this song equivalent to pots and pans noises pounded on by a singing 8 year old.
We are next accompanied by lovely singers Kelis and Claudette Ortiz on “Hey Nas”, but apparently our host didn’t feel it neccessary to get full usage out of them by supplying a good hook for them to shine on (wasn’t he ripping RnB hooks a few tracks back?). Going for the majestic feel to build up an air of Nas looking for love this track is another failure outside of a few lyrical spouts. Feel free to fast forward through this track.
Dear Lord, not another 80s kick and snare, yet “I Can” ultimately can’t. It would seem that Nas wanted to make a track for his child to give a positive message while using a Beethoven sample and allowing children to follow his lead on the chorus. This would have been better suited on a “Sesame Street” soundtrack, where there would perhaps be less contradicting statements with other songs on the CD. “Book of Rhymes” starts with a laid back keyboard and bass rift, and smoothly mixes with Nas’ vocals. Our self-proclaimed son of God spews old verses that were never used and makes a song out it, a good idea that is pulled off slyly, but only worth a few listens.
“Thugz Mansion” features Tupac and J. Phoenix, both give outstanding performances over an acoustic guitar. Strangely, I greatly enjoyed this on Tupac’s “Better Dayz” but find myself impatient for the track to end on Nas’ slightly different version, it comes across unoriginal since Tupac’s version was released a month before Nas’. Should’ve left this as a B side. The next song, “Mastermind” starts off with a refreshing bass-lead beat, but soon after quenches the thirst. Quickly forgettable chorus is only echoed with lazy flow, which is disturbing to hear Nas miss opportunities to spit flame.
Alicia Keys is featured next on “Warrior Song” and delivers a commanding hook. The intro to the song leaves you shaking your head but when the beat drops it’s a sigh of relief, because it’s a solid beat. Nas switches his flow to a more militant style to fit in seamlessly with the beat as if his voice is just another instrument used by the producer. A definite highlight to please your ears. “Revolutionary Warfare” features Lake who holds his own during the 2nd verse. The chorus is weak as Nas spouts a few quick uncatchy lines. The 3rd verse is shared between Nas and Lake, nothing noteworthy here though.
The most heartfelt song Nas has offered thus far is without a doubt “Dance” where Nas speaks to his late mother Ann Jones. The beat does its duty providing a reminiscent feel that allows Nas to express his heart concerning his mother. The tracks ends on a trumpet with a wah-wah mute which is awkward at first but then settles into place. Our last feature guest Jully Black is on the last track “Heaven” (before the bonus disc), a beautiful hook starts on a thought-invoking beat and ultimately a nice track which is probably inspired by Nas’ late mom.
Now we start the bonus disc with “Thugz Mirror Freestyle” which has a beat similar to the other 80s felt beats, read: 13 years too late. Don’t worry about looking for this proclaimed bonus. “Pu*** Killz” starts with bouncing strings, and then sparks a peacful piano rip, the track soon turns urgent once Nas starts spittin about sex. Bearable flow depicting the dangers of women, sex and love. Chalk this up to the forgettable category if there’s anymore room left. We end on “The God” where Nas declares “The God’s Son King of NYC”, which is par for the course at this point (not a good thing).
Well it looks to me that Nas went for a retro-80s retake that is bound to give him heart pains once he realizes what he released: a retro-80s mix that should’ve only had a handful of songs make the final cut. According to Jay-z’s math, we have to wait another 9 years before Nas drops another phenomenal classic, and so far Jay is right. With only a few exceptions Nas shoots enough blanks to white out his book of rhymes, God may have to disown his son here, assuming God will even associate himself with Nas in the same sentence. It pains me to do it, but Nas fully deserves his 2 out of 5 stars.
1. GET DOWN
2. THE CROSS
3. MADE YOU LOOK
4. LAST REAL NIGGA ALIVE
5. ZONE OUT (W/BRAVEHEARTS)
6. HEY NAS (W/KELIS & CLAUDETTE ORTIZ OF CITY HIGH)
7. I CAN
8. BOOK OF RHYMES
9. THUGZ MANSION (W/TUPAC & J. PHOENIX)
11. WARRIOR SONG (W/ALICIA KEYS)
12. REVOLUTIONARY WAR (W/LAKE)
14. HEAVEN (W/JULLY BLACK)
Thugz Mirror Freestyle
2 out of 5