Retrospective: Nas- Street's Disciple

A lot of albums go under the radar. Some albums get wrongfully criticized and receive unnecessary backlash. Some albums are just purely underrated. This album is all of the above. Today, Erika F. and I discuss the 2004 double album from Nas and examine why it deserves more credit than its been given. Let's start off talking about disc 1.

1. Intro 
2. A Message To The Feds, Sincerely, We The People
3. Nazareth Savage 
4. American Way featuring Kelis
5. These Are Our Heroes
6. Disciple 
7. Sekou Story featuring Scarlett
8. Live Now featuring Scarlett 
9. Rest Of My Life featuring Amerie
10. Just A Moment feat Quan
11. Reason feat Emily 
12. You Know My Style

Is Nas’ Streets Disciple still relevant to today’s music? Damn right it is.

In an era where everyone is obsessed with the fashion more than music I feel, it’s great to have certain albums around to remind us of what hip-hop used to be. Hip-hop just isn't the same for me these days.

I'm a lyrics person. You have got to be able to have a great flow and rhymes that'll blow me away from here (the US) to China. I'm tired of hearing "rhymes" such as, "I went to the corner. And these muthafuckas ran outta toner." Yes, that's equally as corny but that's what it sounds like to me. Speaking of which, I should copyright that in case Young Money wants to use that in an upcoming song(Editor's Note: Gudda Gudda got better bars than that, Erika).

When it comes to Nas’ Streets Disciple, the album may be over 10 years old but it still holds a lot of value in music. The “Intro” to the first disc gives you a feel that Nas will definitely be reminiscing in this album. He’s sort of grown up. Probably one of the most ironic things is the way how “Nazareth Savage” leads into “American Way.” You can tell that this album was built to inspire and help those actually make their way out the hood. A random thought: Was I the only one who thought that Scarlett sounds like Lil Kim on “Live Now?”

As the rest of the album progresses, “Rest of My Life” has an optimistic view on life, despite “being kicked to the curb.” Then, “Just a Moment” follows it and it still has that element, even though certain people aren’t around. I think Nas wanted to spread love and peace with this album. Think about the time it debuted- it was a couple of years after the September 11 attacks and during those years that followed it, there wasn’t a moment to mourn in a sense. He’s also a New Yorker so it definitely hit home.

This is one of my favorite Nas albums personally. Nas, just turning 30, and on the verge of getting married, made a double album that was meant to tell a concise story. From the opening sounds of "A Message To The Feds", which was an amazing way to start the album, to the thumping bass of " You Know My Style", the first disc is quite entertaining and of great quality.

With only "American Way" and "Sekou Story" as the songs I skip on disc 1, I'd say that disc 1 could have stood alone and been revered as a near classic Nas album. The album itself carries a mature tone and the first disc weaves through the story arc of Nas seemingly on a mission to find himself. Standout songs include "Just A Moment", " Rest Of My Life", the aforementioned "A Message To The Feds...", and what is possibly the best song on the entire album "Reason". Nas skates over the mostly live instrumentation production here, a thing he should attempt more often on future albums. My one gripe is the inclusion of the Scarlett character on this album. Nas had lofty ambitions on this album and altering his voice(via studio programs) to sound like a woman's and creating a picture with it, was very ambitious, but didn't work as well. The inclusion of Scarlett hurt "Sekou Story" and nearly hurt "Live Now" as well, but "Live Now" as a whole is just a great piece of music.  Overall, disc 1 is extremely solid, leading us into disc 2, of course.

1. Suicide Bounce 
2. Street's Disciple featuring Olu Dara 
3. U.B.R.(Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)
4. Virgo featuring Ludacris & Doug E. Fresh
5. Remember The Times(Intro)
6. Remember The Times 
7. The Makings of A Perfect Bitch
8. Getting Married
9. No One Else In The Room
10. Bridging The Gap featuring Olu Dara
11. War feat Keon Bryce
12. Me & You(Dedicated To Destiny)
13. Thief's Theme 

As far as disc two is concerned, as much as this pains me to say, but it felt like it was dragging in a sense. Disc 1 was great all on it’s own and didn’t need a companion. Some other critics have said that this album shows how Nas stepped into a different moment in his life: the year he turned 30. Many say that a man matures once he reaches the age of 30 so perhaps this album was made to show Nas as a much more mature artist.

Well, I have to disagree with Erika on the second disc. The second disc is a true coming of age story and fits perfectly in succession with the exception of two songs, "U.B.R.", and "The Makings Of A Perfect Bitch". As disc 2 kicks off with the high energy "Suicide Bounce", Nas settles in to finish his story. He reflects on life, the past, the struggle on the title track before taking a detour to bring forth " U.B.R.", which was great in concept, but in execution seemed half-ass. The beat was purposely minimal and bland, and Nas lacked energy on the track, which made the song itself boring. What could have been a great track, just fell way short of the mark.

The "Virgo" single brings back the energy, with a bit of feel good momentum leading into "Remember The Times", which has a hilarious intro of Nas and Kelis talking. The song itself is beautiful, as Nas tells crazy(and hopefully exaggerated) tales of women in his past, and how he's glad to have settled down because she's the one he wants. This is where "The Makings Of A Perfect Bitch" comes in to carry on the narrative being told, but the song itself is just executed badly. After that track however, this is where the album reaches its apex, in my opinion. "Getting Married" is an honest look at what Nas envisioned his wedding would be like, talking about the events leading up to it and the actual ceremony. "No One Else In The Room" is basically the bride and groom's song at the reception, keeping in with the narrative. The smooth track is reminiscent of "Off The Wall" era Michael Jackson, and Maxwell provides great vocals throughout. So, as the story continues, what is left for Nas to tell? He does a song with his father, "Bridging The Gap", which just speaks on his legacy and his father's legacy as well. Nas, now a married man(in the album narrative), is seemingly at peace, and that is evident on the album's best song "War", which floats on an enormously smooth beat and grand hook, as Nas speaks about finding peace and happiness amidst the war and drama surrounding. He closes it off with a song dedicated to his daughter, which features Nas attempting to sing, much like he did on his previous album "God's Son" on the track dedicated to his mother, "Dance". The last song, "Thief's Theme", is a hard knocking, tuck your chain anthem, that closes the album. Good ol' Nasty Nas music.

In closing, this album gets a lot of undeserved flack and slander. I think the album was way ahead of its time, and showcased telling a narrative concisely with an emphasis on different production. Nas gets a lot of deserved criticism for his shaky beat choices, but I felt this album was beautiful produced. I think the album being released in the middle of the G-Unit/Dipset/Crunk/Chipmunk Soul era might have been what led fans to be taken aback by it. This was grown man music over the course of 25 tracks, with only a few missteps. One look at the credits shows the level of ambition and creativity that Nas and the album producers went for. They sampled different genres, multiple songs for one track, and worked with mostly live instrumentation. This was NOT your usual Nas album, and I think that's what makes it one of my personal favorites. It wasn't as legendary as "Illmatic", "It Was Written", or "Stillmatic", but it was much more concise and cohesive than "I Am", "Hip Hop Is Dead", and dare I say "God's Son" (which is also a very good album). As I revisited the album, I felt like it held up even better than I remember. I'm a huge Nas fan, but also an objective one: a few of his albums don't hold up as well as this. This album seemingly aged very well. Revisit this album. Follow the narrative.



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