Nastradamus

In the span of his four-album solo career, Nas has gone from being a leader of the new school to being a follower. On Nastradamus, Nas is torn between socially conscious lyrics and the fear of forfeiting his ghetto pass if he rhymes about anything other than mayhem, murder and money. In spite of boasting talented producers like L.E.S., Timbaland and DJ Premier, Nastradamus is awash in the usual funk rhythms ("Nas-tradamus"), in the objectification of women ("Big Girl") and in unusually uninspired wordplay on songs like "New World" ("The new Don Trump is Bill Gates/Not because of his occupation, it's 'cause we respect his cake"). There are some highlights: "Project Windows" features the mournful utterances of Ronald Isley and offers a glimpse of Nas' Langston Hughes-like genius: "Black hoods, cops and projects/Sewers flooded with foul blockage/The gutter's wild and every child watches/Chains and top locks get ripped off hinges." "Last Words" shines because of its military drumbeat and chants, and the eeriness of Nas, Nashawn and Millennium Thug's naming themselves "hanging slaves." But that's where the creativity ends. Nastradamus offers little in the way of prophecy, and even less for the next chapter in hip-hop.

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