The release of Stillmatic along with the high publicized lyrical battle with JayZ gave Nas new-found momentum going into the new year. 2002 would be a year of ups and down for Nas as an artist as well as is personal life. Despite his popularity and his stake being raised at his highest peak since Illmatic, He put his career in jeopardy on the mainstream level when he declared war at Hot 97 by denouncing the Radio Station’s under the table shenanigans, payola, and publicly criticized his peers Nelly, Camron, Noreaga, along with Def Jam in the midst of his verbal tirade. This move not only made Nas the most talked about artist duriing this time period but also the most targeted. What Nas did at the time was very unheard of and while he became adored by many hardcore listeners, He burned alot of bridges along the way.
Nas’s personal life also took a tragic turn as his mother would lose her battle with breast cancer and the lost was proven to be very demoralizing for Nas. All of these turn of events inspired him to create his 3rd album within a 2 year span titled God Son which came across as very odd considering this was the same guy that rapped about “When he was 12, He went to hell for snuffing Jesus”
Stillmatic was Nas with his back against the wall and fighting to show that he’s still that rapper that still should be recognized. God Son was a mixture of emotions that were recorded in periods of Nas’s life where he seeked a spiritual journey alongside showing grievance to his mother and felt why he felt similar to Christ as he felt he was carrying the cross for hip hop and his career.
The question is does God Son lived up to its high anticipation? , Nas promised us that the album will contain no “commercial” music and God Son full fills its promise The rest of the LP Nas provides us with “Street Hop” on the album’s gritty first single Made You Look and on the album’s first official track Get Down which is a perfect introduction to God Son
Continuing with the creative concepts and the constant poetic insightful verses, The Cross has Nas playing the role of Christ as he’s explaining how he feels that he’s carrying the Cross of Hip Hop similar . Whats even surprising is how Eminem provided the production behind the track and it comes off surprisingly well. My personal favorite conceptually is Book of Rhymes where Nas is flipping through his old books of rhymes he written in the past, The dope thing about the song is that you can hear him flipping the pages and even criticizing his old wack raps. Its a very fresh concept.
God Son just may be Nas’s most personal album to date aside from Life is Good. He dedicates Dance to his Mother which was very sombering and heart-felt to the point where anybody whom lost their mother can easily relate too. He also talks about his vendettas within the Rap Game on The Last Nigga Alive has Nas going in-depth about rivalries he’s been through with the Late B.I.G., Ghostface, Raekwon and broke down his then rivalry with JayZ. The rivalry with JayZ showed no signs of slowing down at the time as he went as far as to comparing his murdering of JayZ on wax with Ether to Scarface killing Manolo.
Spitting gems and insightful rhymes have always been Nas’s specialty. This time he chooses to focus on upliftment and positive messages. I Can is possibly one of the most educational rap songs I’ve ever heard. It’s also something that could be geared to the children as well to balance out the negativity they hear on the regular. Warriors Song, Revolutionary Warfare, and Mastermind while not too strong on the production tip is compensated due to Nas’s vivid picture painting and pride-fulness of black consciousness. Even the late Tupac Shakur drops by from the heavens on the remixed version of Thug Mansion.
The best track is actually the last song on the album titled Heaven where Nas is acknowledging the creator(God) in a righteous way. He talks about the hardships of losing his mother, his fight to maintain his spot and basically bares his soul. Nas even experiments with the fast tongue flow and finally mastered it after failing with it on previous albums. A far outcry from the blasphemous raps of “wave automatic guns to Nuns” but it showed that Nas have matured.
Overall God Son closed the 4th Quarter of 2002 on a positive note. There were songs on there that could have been left off and I felt the production could have been better on some albums as it was totally in need of Premier, Pete Rock, Large Professor for a track or two to match Nas’s lyrical firepower. God Son lived up to its hype and further cemented Nas’s legacy.
8.5 outta 10