February 6, 2003

Seventh Heaven

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Fresh off a year that saw him declare war on the entire hip-hop community while also releasing two near-classic albums, Nas serves up a more resigned – and refined – effort to get things started in 2003.

A lot has changed for this rap legend since a 20-year-old Nasir Jones dropped his classic freshmen LP, Illmatic, in 1994. Nas has gone from hip-hop’s young savior, to it’s biggest joke and back to, appropriately, the God’s Son of the game.

His seventh album is his third in just over a year and ran the risk of seeming rushed and over-produced. However, with his b-boy swagger back intact, Nas made sure to keep the not-so-anticipated album as street-driven as possible.

Stillmatic (2001), along with the ground-breaking Lost Tapes (2002), reminded fans that though Nas had strayed with his disappointingly commercial albums of the mid-90s, he had not totally vanished. God’s Son reminds us that now that he’s resurrected, he plans to stick around until he’s satisfied.

While the album lacks the tightness of Stillmatic and the sheer lyrical grittiness of the Lost Tapes, it does possess an emotional intensity to which Nas has never before been so vulnerable.

Not only was 2002 the year Nas formally took on Jay-Z and HOT 97, it was also a year that saw Nas lose his closest friend, ally and inspiration, his mom.

“Dance”, a tribute song aided by a horn solo from Nas’ father, Olu Dara, is an explicit ode to the deep emotional loss her death entailed. However, the entire album seethes with the same spiritual awareness.

Save the forgettable and uninspired “Zone Out,” “Warrior Song,” And “Revolutionary Warfare,” most tracks resemble the focused and didactic or episodic m