On his new album, Street’s Disciple, Nas commands your attention: He forces you to hit the rewind button a few times before his verses are finished, then makes you ask the person nearest to you, “Did you hear that?” There’s plenty of fodder
for discussion stored within his double-disc set, which came out on Tuesday.
A track that has everyone talking is disc one’s “These Are Our Heroes” (released to the streets with the title “Coon Picnic”) on which Nas raps, “Let’s hear it, one for the coons on UPN 9 and WB who ‘yes massa’ on TV/ Whatever happened to Weezy, the Red Foxxes who never got Emmys but were real to me?”
O.J. Simpson, Taye Diggs and Tiger Woods are among those he lashes out at. NBA star Kobe Bryant, however, catches most of the heat on the record, being called out by name and compared to Toby from the miniseries “Roots.”
“You can’t do better than that?/ The hotel clerk who adjusts the bathroom mat?” Nas says in his verses, referencing Bryant’s much-publicized criminal charge for sexual assault in Colorado. “You beat the rap, jiggaboo, fake n—a you, you turn around then you sh– on Shaq.”
Nas recently said he was contemplating releasing the song as a single but did not know if media outlets would be able to embrace it.
“It’s a fun record,” Nas insisted. “I pick out certain guys that’s heavy in the media who Ã¢â‚¬â€ whether they’re athletes, rappers, whatever Ã¢â‚¬â€ I think [they’re] cooning. I don’t know if radio and TV are ready for those images, but they should be, because that’s what hip-hop is.”
A song that Nas is almost sure he will release in the near future is “Virgo,” with Ludacris and Doug E. Fresh. The song has already made its way onto mixtapes (see “Mixtape Monday: Young Buck Gets Shine On G-Unit City, Luda Talks Birth Of ‘Virgo’ “).
“That joint was fun,” he said. “Doug E. Fresh is one of the greatest entertainers and one of the guys I looked up to. Ludacris is witty, fun and one of the tightest lyricists out there. All of us are cool, and one of the main reasons is we share the same sign.
“Doug does the beat box on the record,” he continued, “so it reminds you of a Slick Rick, ‘La Di Da Di’-style [song]. On ‘La Di Da Di,’ Slick Rick was having fun talking about this girl he bumped into. It’s vulgar, it’s funny, and Ludacris brings that effect to it. Being a fan of Slick Rick, I bring that Slick Rick/ New York vibe to it.”
Nas said he and Fresh originally did the song together but decided to ask Ludacris to join the collaboration because he and Luda had been talking about working on another song (the two first rapped together on Nas’ “Made You Look” remix) Ã¢â‚¬â€ and because Cris is a Virgo.
“Our birthdays are close to each other,” Nas said. “We’ve been talking about doing a birthday party together, and this song is like a party on wax.”
Another major collaborator on Street’s Disciple is Busta Rhymes. He laid down the chorus for “Suicide Bounce,” a song which also features newcomer Quan (Quan, an MC from VA, is the man Nas says he’s passing the baton to as the new hot MC on “Just a Moment”).
” ‘Suicide Bounce’ is based off when you feel pressured and you feel like you can’t take it, but you’re not dumb enough to take your life,” Nas said. “You feel like you want to do something to somebody, you just wanna go off. The energy of the record is to keep you going, push you forward, keep you bouncing instead of calling it quits. Busta Rhymes is on the hook, and he brings the energy. It felt like ‘Hate Me Now.’ “
Love and hate are the themes of “War,” which Nas calls his most personal record on the double opus.
” ‘War’ is [about] my baby-mama drama,” he said. ” ‘War’ talks about when my daughter was born and me first being on the scene with stardom. It kinda went to my head. Me and her mom were young. It just shows what happens to the household when we run and speed into things. I don’t really wanna blame anybody, even though I did go through extra-crazy scenarios. I still don’t point the finger; I’m the bigger man. I think everything is an experience, and I feel you learn from everything. That record got personal because I named the years and dates from where I’m at.”
Believe it or not, Nas says it’s that style of record that makes him second-guess himself.
“You lay the record down, and then you don’t want nobody to hear it,” he said. “[You ask], ‘Are they going to judge me?’ After it’s laid, I’m scared, and I don’t want the record to come out. I’m like, ‘Let’s change it.’ It’s too late by then. But I say forget it and just let it be out.”
Nas admits he’s a little weird. Luckily he has two soul mates, his fiancee, Kelis, and his child, Destiny, to help keep him sane.
“They’re my therapists,” he said. “I’m a tortured, torn, insane guy. They make me feel great.”
Kelis, who appears twice on the album (see “Nas Salutes The Ladies, Past And Present, On Upcoming LP”), acted as muse for some of his rhymes. “She was there for a lot of it,” Nas said. “She helped me out on two songs Ã¢â‚¬â€ just [her] talking to me inspired me.”
For a look at the recording of Street’s Disciple, check out the feature “Nas: A Fire Inside.”