Nas’ ‘Stillmatic’ and East Coast tension in the hip-hop community

Nasir Jones, the Queens-based rapper known simply as Nas has returned to the world of hip-hop with his latest, “Stillmatic,” released on Ill Will Records. The title draws on his first album, “Illmatic,” which is widely regarded as not only one of the top debuts but also one of the best rap records.
After “Illmatic” it was downhill on Nas’s next two albums, “I Am..The Autobiography” and the very cleverly titled “Nastradamus.” Whether Nas was exploring himself or simply not listening to the songs he was putting on the albums, the result was two awful CD’s.
His recent release quickly rose to the top of the charts and his first single, “Got Yourself a Gun,” has been seen on Black Entertainment Television more than Jesse Jackson. The song features Nas rhyming over a booming piano piece with a chorus that you can’t get out of your head. He raps about the demise of Tupac and Biggie and how rap is worse off without them.
Though not a single yet, the most talked about song on the album is “Ether.” The song has reached notoriety because of its blatant verbal abuse of fellow rapper Jay-Z. He is not just making fun of his sneakers. We’re talking sexuality-questioning, ability-insulting, family-mocking lyrics.
It is impressive to listen to how creatively Nas can verbally attack one person for five minutes. He delivers the rhymes at such a breakneck pace that while you’re trying to figure out the last insult, you miss two more. Hopefully Jigga will take notice and put the same amount of effort into his next album, which we’ll probably see in two weeks. Has it been three months already?
Jay-Z isn’t the only target of Nas’s lyrics. Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Eminem and Prodigy are also the subject of some more not-so-nice words.
Overall this record is tighter than security at a Barry Manilow concert; Solid beats and rhymes- what more do you need? Though no “Illmatic,” there are definitely flashes of the old nasty Nas on this LP.
Nas looks to be headed in the right direction and that’s sweet music to everyone’s ears. Well, not Jay-Z’s. He’s probably still pretty mad.