'STREET'S DISCIPLE '
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2002 Nas reflected, "I make money from what I do, and it's God's gift.
I didn't get in the business just to make a million or two billion overnight.
There's nothing wrong with that, but I don't care. I just love the music and
enjoying my life at the same time. I love rap more than being a star in rap."
Since his landmark solo debut, 1994's Illmatic (recently
reissued in a commemorative 10th anniversary 2 CD set), Nas has been a star,
yet, more importantly, he's been a lyrical standard-setter and visionary.
For over 10 years, Nas has steadfastly elevated his game, broadened his perspective
and refused to allow success to mute his revolutionary message of faith, the
streets, family, retribution, intelligence and rap's ultimate power. Now
two years after the seminal God's Son, which Time magazine declared was "the
best hip-hop album of the year," the Source gave "4 mics,"
and Vibe blessed with "four stars," Nas is back with an album that
testifies once again to his singular impact, importance and growth. That
album, the double CD Street's Disciple, is unflinching, potent, passionate,
playful, reflective, loving, vengeful, seething, searing, spiritual and, fundamentally,
proof of the sound, fury and purposefullness that rap music, and Nas, is capable
of. Helping Nas bring his vision to fruition are producers such as LES, Salaam
Remi (who helmed the explosive single "Thief's Theme") and Nas.
Also adding his creative spirit is Nas's father, the acclaimed jazz/blues
artist Olu Dara (who also appeared on God's Son) Along with "Thief's
Theme," which finds Nas imparting wisdom on top of 60's rock staple "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,"
standout cuts include the pulsating "Know My Style," which is already
a mix tape favorite. Nas knows about hard-hitting street
savvy anthems. This lyrical maestro has been responsible for singles (i.e.
"The World Is Yours," "One Mic," "Ether" and
"Made You Look") that have served as definitive hip-hop moments,
instantly making their mark on radio, in the clubs and among the fans who
have looked to Nas to continuously push rap music to new heights.
Born Nasir Jones, the son of Dara and the late Ann Jones, Nas came of age
in the Queensbridge Houses, home to a litany of luminaries including Marley
Marl and the Juice Crew. With beats and verbiage built virtually into QB's
concrete walls, Nas had already soaked up sonic and syllabic influences by
the time he was old enough to put pen to paper. It was only a matter of time
before he made his own attempts to move the crowd. While still in his teens,
Nas began crafting rhymes that blended his finely tuned sense of literacy
and rhetoric with glamorized thug theatrics reflecting the harsh realities
of his environment. That combination of poetics and danger exploded in 1991
when Nas was invited by Main Source to drop a verse on "Live At the Barbeque."
Nas's contribution earned respect in the East Coast rap scene and soon after,
3rd Bass MC Serch approached Nas to contribute a track to the "Zebrahead"
soundtrack. Nas delivered "Halftime," and it made such an impact
that Serch made it the soundtrack's lead off single. The
industry started paying attention to what the underground already knew and
Nas was quickly signed to Columbia Records. Numerous New York based producers
clamored to work with him and eventually Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip,
and DJ Premier entered the studio with Nas to create Illmatic.
If the pre-album hype had been deafening, the post-album reaction was even
more intense: in some quarters, Nas was anointed rap's savior. Cuts such as
"N.Y. State of Mind" and "It Ain't Hard to Tell" provided
a gritty yet thoughtful soundtrack to life on NY's mean streets and Illmatic
became an instant classic. Nas followed up that success with It Was Written
(1996), containing the smashes "Street Dreams" and "If I Ruled
the World (Imagine That)." The videos for the songs became MTV staples
and afforded Nas crossover success and street cred. During this juncture in
his career, Nas lead the short-lived super group, The Firm, comprised of fellow
New Yorkers Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature. In 1999, Nas hit a highpoint with the
one-two punch of I Am and Nastradamus, both of which topped the charts and
further broadened his appeal. In addition, he made his acting debut in the
Hype Williams-directed "Belly." In 2000, Nas kept true to his artistic
ambitions by assembling a cadre of his fellow Queensbridge rappers for the
certified gold, debut release on Ill Will Records, QB Finest, yet kept a low
profile as a solo performer. That radically shifted in 2001
as Nas entered into an intensive phase of an already potent career. Publicly
called out by Jay-Z, his long time rival and fellow contender for the King
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