This was inevitable. We all knew Jesus Christ was going to branch out into music at some point. He has the tacky souvenir industry nailed, just walk by the Subway on West 96th street and you’ll see Big J.C.’s agonized visage emblazoned on everything from tapestries to Light Brights. But one burning question plagued me whenever I passed the Jesus merch table with my veggie patty sandwich in hand, When’s this dude just gonna come out with an album already? Well, fear not, he has arrived. There was no stopping this. Apparently, even if Mary had an abortion, this record would have reached me via chariots and horses.
Okay, so Nas isn’t Jesus Christ, contrary to what his latest album, God’s Son, may insinuate, but a boy can still wonder what would happen if J.C. stepped up to the mic. Regardless of the album’s boastful title, God’s Son, is an effort that stands out on its own merits. The album wastes no time posturing and cuts right to the chase with it’s opening track “Get Down.” And the album never lets up until the guest stars come in and ruin the party.
The weakest tracks on this LP, are by no coincidence, the ones that have guest stars on them. “Zone Out,” featuring the Bravehearts, is a throwaway, and it really killed the momentum the record had built up during its first four songs. The equally annoying “Hey Nas” is one of those radio singles that you have to explain to your friend: “Shut up dude, there’s way better ones on the album. This is like the worst one on the whole thing. Go home and download ‘Made You Look’ and you’ll see what I mean.”
The album picks up steam again with “I Can,” which may not be the best hip-hop PSA ever, with its warning to the kids of the dangers of hard drug use. It may seem corny for Nas to tell the kids they have a bright future, but hell, where else are kids supposed to here it these days? Think of it as Sesame Street with a bigger set of cajones. “Book of Rhymes” is equally great, until Tupac provides the only resurrection this album sees on Nas’ remake of “Thug Mansion,” which actually features back-from-the-grave rhymes from Tupac himself. Spooky stuff there, kids.
The album finishes off with less offensive contributions from Alicia Keys (“Warrior Song”) and Lake (“Revolutionary Warfare”) but Nas’ star still shines brightest when he’s alone. The final two tracks are a tribute to his late mother and our collective mortality, a fitting end to one of the better records I have heard come out of the mainstream in quite some time. Now, if Nas can only leave his friends at home next time, we might have ourselves another classic.