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Street's Disciple

Wednesday, Dec 29 2004
Nas has always been hip hop's most complex lyricist, so it comes as little surprise that he's released one of the genre's most ambitious albums. On Street's Disciple, the MC suggests the existence of a black culture that lies in opposition to the American mainstream -- politically, aesthetically, and emotionally. Granted, that culture has been crippled by oppression ("A Message to the Feds, Sincerely, We the People"), the false promises of the political process ("American Way"), and racial abandonment ("These Are Our Heroes"), but Nas finds salvation in his family (the appearances of his father and master bluesman Olu Dara), strength in himself ("Street's Disciple"), and a cultural identity in hip hop ("U.B.R.," "Bridging the Gap"). It's a credit to Nas' ability as a lyricist that he's able to hold all of this together. While the two-disc set feels slightly bloated -- and some of the production is bland -- Street's Disciple serves as a high-water mark in a dazzling career.

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Sam Chennault


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