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Artist: Nas
Label: Sony
Genre: Hip Hop/Rap
Release: Jan 1994   My Rating: 0
Duration: 39:44
Summary: Nasir Jones made this debut album at the age of 20, already armed with the calm perceptiveness and been-there-done-that attitude of a much older ghetto vet, though sometimes his inner callow youth shows itself. "Illmatic" is a look back at a life spent in the culture of the projects, acknowledging joy as much as pain and taking note of violence as a fact of his environment rather than a focus of his life. It's enlivened by Nas's kicky, deep-threaded multiple rhymes--you can tell he grew up listening to Mr. Magic's rap show and internalizing the secrets of everybody's flow--and by tracks from a bunch of all-stars, including the Large Professor, DJ Premier, and, most memorably, Q-Tip ("One Love"). "--Douglas Wolk"


Artist: Nas
Label: Sony
Genre: Rap/R&B
Release: Dec 2001   My Rating: 0
Duration: 47:20
Summary: Nas's 1994 debut, "Illmatic", is hands down one of the greatest rap LPs of all time. Open to debate is why he ditched his lyrical genius and raw, gully beats to go pop on his next three albums. On his fifth solo LP, Nas returns to his grimy, hardcore roots. On "Ether," Nas disses Jay-Z mercilessly (a response to Jay-Z's anti-Nas stabs on "Takeover" from "The Blueprint"). Nas then proceeds to dis Prodigy of Mobb Deep and a whole slew of other Queensbridge-based MCs on "Destroy and Rebuild." When he's not busy tearing into fellow New York-based MCs, Nas pulls a politico routine on "My Country," questioning the blind patriotism of many African Americans, flips rhymes with former Firm compadre AZ on "The Flyest," and pays homage to Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G on "Got Ur Self a...." However, the albums finest artistic moment comes on "Rewind," where Nas crafts a sexploit and murder-filled 'hood narrative in which the story and wordplay are recited in reverse (think Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" on celluloid). With beats supplied by DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Swizz Beatz, Nas has arguably reclaimed his throne as the MC king of New York. "--Dalton Higgins"


Artist: Nas
Label: Sony
Genre: Hip Hop/Rap
Release: Jan 2004   My Rating: 0
Duration: 41:36
Summary: Nas is incredibly talented, but he can't really justify the heft of a double album any more than Jay-Z or Wu-Tang could. Still, most of "Street's Disciple" is as impressive as anything he's done in the previous few years. He's still hip-hop's most compelling and sophisticated lyricist (sorry Eminem, Jigga), and more than a few tracks here burn with his verbal heat--a flood of phrases and metaphors that inspire imagery as rich as in any movie. Unfortunately, "Street's Disciple" is twice as long as it needs to be, especially with insipid fare like "The Makings of a Perfect Bitch" or tired club cuts like "No One Else in the Room." You wish Nas had forced himself to cut a single album because half of this double-CD set is truly hot. "--Oliver Wang"