Nas was once labeled a prodigy, but soon afterwards his quality went down and we have yet to see the caliber of sound that he once produced on the classic CD of “Illmatic”. Since then, his CDs have drastically degraded in substance.
Having said the necessary, let’s get down to business on his latest CD “Stillmatic”. The very name of the CD echoes his original “Illmatic”, but even the artwork screams that there have been some changes at Ill Will Records, Nas’ very own record label. A short list of guests include recently released AZ and beautiful songstress Amerie.
The intro, aptly titled “Stillmatic” is one of the better openers that have been out in a while. Provides a very smooth yet energetic beat which poetically flows with Nas’ voice and gives off a great vibe. Track 2 “Ether” moves a little less poetic, instead giving you the compulsion to bob your head. God’s Son (Nas) decided to dedicate an entire track to dissing Jay-z, his multi-platinum selling New York rival, and effectively terrorizes Jayhova. A pretty brilliant track.
“Got Ur Self a…” is another worthwhile track that mixes an up-tempo beat, full of cymbals, piano rifts and guitar plucks, with a lyrical Nas kicking knowledge about his street skills. While this is an overdone topic, he does it in great style. Speaking of abused rap material, next up is “Smokin”. The Queensbridge native decides to flow about subjects ranging from his origins, blazing blunts, street war and thug friendship, but it is way too difficult to not like this track when it has such a nice beat and verbal disposition.
Track 5, titled “You’re Da Man” has a polished instrumental with a nice vinyl sound to it. Truly a nice piece of work here, plenty of subtleties between the beat and Nas’ remarkable use of metaphors and a very catchy hook. Followed up by “Rewind” brings an old school feel in a revised and updated way while Nas tells a story about a day in his life. A decent track, hardly noteworthy or inspiring unlike the ridiculously tight, soon to be legend “One Mic”. This track is perfect in every way, Nas did the production on this track which says a lot about his production skills. The lyrics emit a sense of reality and call to action. This track is simply incredible and will be the measuring stick of every other deep soul searching type of rap joint from here on out.
“2nd Childhood” like most of the other tracks gives a thick bass line, very nice & relaxed feel. A creative reflection on his neighborhood where he speaks on people from around his way and never growing up. “Destroy & Rebuild” is yet another track to attack and correct anyone out of line from Nas’ blueprint of how it should be. Although it is not quite clearly expressed.
Arguably the best track outside of “One Mic” is next when Nas teams up with AZ on “The Flyest”. AZ brings fire with his verse and outshines Nas’ 2nd verse, but the real treat is in the 3rd verse where Nas & AZ trade lines throughout the verse, outstanding. Not to forget the chorus, a very determined R’n’B hook fits the song to a “T”. This an amazing song that is a must-hear.
“Rule” features the other guest star Amerie who samples Tears for Fears’ “Everybody wants to rule the world”. Nas addresses the state of the world as he sees it, naturally he focuses on all the negative aspects while attacking the President and Colin Powell. A decent track, very similar feel to other tracks, but this time easily forgettable. While focusing on everything wrong in the world Nas opens the next track telling us “whatever you feel is rightfully yours, go out and take it even if that means blood and death.” Despite his inability to stay on track with his own views, “My Country” sits perfectly into “Stillmatic” schematics beatwise and lyrically, another quality addition.
Ending the official track list is “What Goes Around”. There is a lot of poison in this song, at least according Nasir, where views are expressed in a fashion that echoes “Rule”, different beat and different words. “Every Ghetto” is listed as a bonus track, and thankfully it was added. As the name would indicate, this track is strictly street-level, the laid back rhythmic percussion overlapped by some nice lighter piano-like sounds create a great ending to a near perfect CD.
The inevitable conclusion here is that Nas has finally redeemed himself from his latest misfires such as “Nastradamus”, this CD is quality on nearly every level. Production is outstandingly perfect, Nas brings the fire lyrically never wasting a single line and this is a must have in the CD collection. The only flaw is an overall lack of creative content, which is a minor flaw but effects the replay value of certain songs, while other songs such as “One Mic”, “Ether”, “Smokin”, and “The Flyest”, to name a few, will have you consistently making sure there is a backup copy just in case you lose the original. Nas deserves his 4.5 out of 5 stars.
01 Stillmatic (The Intro)
03 Got Ur Self A…
05 You’re Da Man
07 One Mic
08 2nd Childhood
09 Destroy & Rebuild
10 The Flyest (feat. AZ)
11 Rule (feat. Amerie)
12 My Country
13 What Goes Around
Bonus Track: Every Ghetto
4.5 out of 5