Nasir Jones - God's Son
by Grant Huckels
(Boulder, CO, USA)
A Sold-Out Hero?
It is hard to describe how false the vibe of the album God’s Son feels. I honestly did not want to like this album and viewed it critically. Nas’s verses seem to be recycled versions of his older songs. Yet, as the album plays and the verses stick in the listener’s head, one may notice that such notions change rather quickly.
Sure, the man might be cocky, and he expects an infinite amount of respect from his crowd; but, that should not diminish the quality of this record. In fact, I will dare to compare Nasir Jones to The Beatles. John Lennon after all seemed rather arrogant to say that The Beatles were more “Popular than Jesus,” but that did not lessen the fact that they were one of the most revolutionary and unique bands of all time.
In the same way that The Beatles were cofounders of modern rock; Nas is a core founder of rap.
Surely, at first the listeners’ attention is caught by the essence of greed and generality of the songs. As a matter of fact, one of the worst songs of the album, “The G.O.D” is a nearly desperate attempt to justify the title of the album, God’s Son.
It is sad to see such a Legend give into a sub-par level of average quality rap. Such a man is not renowned for being “average,” but rather unique in the sense that the majority of his older songs in albums such as Illmatic and Stillmatic were extraordinarily crude and outspoken. Nonetheless, the last track of the album, “The G.O.D” is amateurish, unrefined and mediocre.
Not only is the repetition of “The G-O-D S-O-N/K-I-N-G O-F N-Y-C/ That's me” twelve times in the song a massive annoyance, but the artist dared to do something no true old-school rapper would ever dare; he used auto-tune. To put it into perspective, it is as if the Pope decided to use curse words left and right during a sermon.
Not only would that be inappropriate on many levels as well frowned upon but it is incredibly disappointing. Hands down, using auto-tune as a rapper is the biggest “no-no” one could commit. It is a crime which most hip-hop enthusiasts will find hard to forgive. Beside all of these flaws, Nas topped it off with meaningless and boastful lyrics. Honestly, this song would be more of something I would have expected from Lil Wayne, not the King of Rap.
Nevertheless, there is still hope for this album. Not all of it is mediocre. Some of the more crucial tracks of the album, such as “Get Down” and “Dance” truly represent rap as a political and educational medium. To begin with, “Get Down” is a great balance for “The G.O.D,” in the sense that the first is so good it redeems the poor quality of the latter.
Fortunately Nas was able to focus and write such a great song of the past. The beat is simple, it is the same guitar sample over and over again, but it truly does not matter because the listener is kidnapped by the story of the song and transported to a run-down bar. During the night, young and drunk Nas is saved by a man, whom he believes was sent by God. This fact leads to the godly formation of the legend of Nas.
Not only that, but Nas also refers to the racial injustice in the judicial system, the violence of the less fortunate areas of New York and the inability of the poor to move up on a socio-economic scale. And this brings me back to the idea of “Get Down” being significant in a political way, since it refers to the judicial system acting out of prejudice and unfairness.
Secondly it supports the educational aspect of rap, this is hinted by the very last verse of the song, which states “Somebody gotta make a change,” implying that there is a need for someone to represent the repressed.
The second song which left an impression, “Dance,” is a sincere and melancholic appeal to honor Nas’s deceased mother, Ann Jones. This type of song is rare to come-by, in the sense that very few in Hip-Hop address the hardships of mothers. Yet, in an old-school fashion Nas uses raw and impactful verses to depict his sadness and respect for his departed mother.
The most exceptional issue is that the artist admits of shedding tears. Now, it might seem easy to understand that one would cry for the death of their dear mother. But this is not Taylor Swift we are talking about, this is Nas, a gangster and a member of the 5% Nation, an association related to the Black Panther Nation. Not only that, but it is rather special to hear a rapper defending women instead of attacking them.
More significantly to the purpose, the song evokes strong emotions related to both respect and sorrow. The song is comparable to “Dear Mama” by Tupac, meaning that it makes the listener think and appreciate the efforts of their mothers. Lastly, the song reminds the audience to thank or give thanks to their mothers for their patience, care and love.
Back to the album as a whole. As I said before, I was not inclined to liking it. At first I thought that Nas had sold-out and released a cheap product. But, the songs are still real, the verses are still influential and the songs are still meaningful.
For example, “Revolutionary Warfare” talks about how war has changed in meaning, in the song warfare represents societal struggles, such as the struggles of single parents, the inability of men to take responsibility for their mistakes as well as the fact that the impoverished are underrepresented and forgotten in western society.
I wanted to say that this album was a bunch of commercialized and arrogant rhymes mixed together. Yet that view has changed drastically. Nas still represents the streets through politically significant verses. Furthermore he still has the skills he had when he released Illmatic, and is still Nas, the King of Rap.
Ultimately, Nas maintains a religious theme throughout the entire album, such as the song “The Cross” during which he essentially compares himself to Jesus. But this is rather a simple concept. He does not compare himself to Jesus as a being, but rather comparing their purpose in life.
In fact, throughout the album Nas seems to guide his audience, like a shepherd guides his flock, towards improving their own lives. Not only in a religious or political context, but also in a societal aspect. In my eyes, Nas is still the hero he used to be.
About The Writer
My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.
If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.
Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot.
I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.