Nas: Street's Disciple
Nas: Street's Disciple
Big Apple wordsmith Nas proves intoxicatingly profound with his fantastic, yet bloated double disc Street’s Disciple. Meanwhile, Left Coaster Xzibit’s Weapons of Mass Destruction is another middling attempt at nabbing rap luminary status. To be fair, the charismatic yet often second-rate Cali rhymer doesn’t need to spit lyrics to eat, as Nas does. He’s got the remarkably goofy Pimp My Ride running on MTV nearly 20 times a week and will become the first hip-hopper to be slapped on an EA Sports video-game cover when NFL Street 2 hits stores after Christmas. Xzibit can also boast about many acting gigs, including 8 Mile. Nas has, well, Belly.
Lyrically speaking, Xzibit is light years behind Nas. To Xzibit’s credit, it’s a spot most other hip-hoppers occupy as well. Trying to leap out of the box with authority, Xzibit enlists staccato hitmaker Timbaland for “Hey Now (Mean Nigga),” and the single flaunts lackluster rhymes like “X be the life of the party/ Don’t be scared girl/ Reach out and touch somebody.” Several of Xzibit’s joints disappointingly plummet into generic pop-rap territory, including “Crazy Ho,” a formulaic synth-filled track about a stalking female.
Mercifully, the disc isn’t simply bargain-basement clichés, as “Cold World” dives into the tale of a 13-year-old Iraqi whose penniless family is destined to perish in a bomb blast. On “Back 2 the Way It Was,” Xzibit maintains, “Hip-hop is hollow, with no substance.” Too bad an excess of Xzibit’s words are equally vacuous.
Without starring TV roles or PlayStation fame, Nas bathes in reflective wordplay throughout Street’s Disciple, an album if trimmed to, say, a dozen tracks, would have matched his classic rookie output, 1994’s Illmatic. He’s excruciatingly candid about recounting sexual escapades on “Remember the Times,” even confessing to getting burnt after a condomless experience. He’s equally open about the positive influence of his horn-playing pops, summarily honoring him on “Bridging the Gap.”
Street’s Disciple—which are actually the first two words Nas ever rapped on wax—is marked by maturity, evidenced by the praise Nas heaps on folks such as his dad, his fiancée, Kelis (“Getting Married”), and rap legend Rakim on the self-produced, sonically skeletal cut “U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim).” But everything isn’t rosy, and Nas tosses darts at black folks he feels aren’t helping the cause in the hysterical and merciless assault “These Are Our Heroes (Coon Picnic).” Tackling everyone from Tiger Woods to Kobe Bryant, he quips, “You can’t do better than that/ The hotel clerk who adjust the bathroom mat?”, about the NBA star’s tabloid-friendly Colorado tryst. With swipes at actors Taye Diggs and Cuba Gooding Jr., it’s an incisive tirade that’s sure to inspire drama-filled discussion. Despite obvious filler like “The Makings of a Perfect Bitch,” Nas’ brainy lyrical bursts make Street’s Disciple a delectable doozy.