Review Summary: As bad as Nastradamus was, at least it was only one disc…
The double album in hip-hop has produced mixed results, at best they’re labeled as a “It would’ve been a classic had it been trimmed down to one disc,” as in the case of Life After Death
and All Eyez on Me.
Most of the time though, they are just bloated albums loaded with filler in order to fill up two discs. The problem is that when an artist poses the question “Why should I do this?” If the answer is more money, then more than likely they’re going to do it. A double album is just an opportunity to make a bit more money and inflate numbers since one copy of Street’s Disciple
counts as two albums sold, requiring the sale of only a half million copies to acquire platinum status.
On Street’s Disciple,
Nas makes few concessions to the mainstream, reaching out to his long time fans who remember his past glory. The album’s title itself is a reference to his first ever verse back in 1991 on Main Source’s ‘Live at the Barbeque.’ Much like he did when he titled his fifth album STILLmatic,
it was a thinly veiled attempt at getting people to remember that this was the guy who had the classic album Illmatic.
At this point, complacency seemed to be setting in for Nas, he’d already had a great career, felt he had nothing left to prove and was about to get married.
On ‘These Are Our Heroes’, (originally titled ‘Coon’s Picnic’) Nas climbs atop his high horse and puts other artists and athletes on blast while reserving the brunt of his fury for a particular NBA star:
But there's somethin' they don't say
Keep gettin' accused for abusin' White pussay
From OJ to Kobe, uh let's call him Tobe
First he played his life cool just like Michael
Now he rock ice too just like I do
Yo, you can't do better than that?
The hotel clerk who adjusts the bathroom mat?
Now you lose sponsorships that you thought had your back
Yeah, you beat the rap jiggaboo, fake nigga you
You turn around then you sh
it on Shaq
Ironically, at the end of this track, Nas gives big ups to Tiger Woods, proving just how badly fooled everyone had been by him and that six years ago he was being looked up to as an example.
The biggest problem on most of Nas’ post-Illmatic
releases has been the production. An all-star team of beat makers was assembled to work on his classic debut but unfortunately none of his later albums have had that level production an Street’s Disciple
may have his worst batch of beats, or at least it has the most bad beats since this is a double album. Q-Tip, who provided the beat for Illmatic
’s ‘One Love’, returns to work with Nas for the first time since then and provides an incredibly unimaginative sampling of ‘Atomic Dog’ for ‘American Way’. Clinton’s ‘Atomic Dog’ has been sampled countless times in hip-hop and if you though that in the hands of a capable producer like Q-Tip it would work, you would be mistaken, the only salvageable part of this track are Kelis’ vocals at the end. Top shelf producers L.E.S., Salaam Remi and Chucky Thompson get together and produce only one or two memorable tracks with Remi’s ‘Virgo’ being one of the best. Doug E. Fresh provides the beat boxing for ‘Virgo’ were Nas and Ludacris rap with a fun, old school style. The track ‘Me & You’ is dedicated to his daughter Destiny, it’s very heartfelt but his tales of promiscuity on ‘Remember the Times’ seem contradictory when there is a song made for his daughter on the same album.
isn’t what most people were expecting when they heard ‘Thief’s Theme’ with Salaam Remi’s magnificent sampling of Iron Butterfly. This track although recycling some of his Illmatic
lyrics, is one of the best on the album but also shows Nas clinging to the past and trying to relive his glory days which, after listening to this album, seem like a distant memory.
A Message to the Feds, Sincerely, We the People