December 18, 2019

Nas "Stillmatic" (December 18, 2001)

Nas's fifth album Stillmatic is his awakening. His rebirth. Illmatic revisited. Well, kind of. He explains on the intro, "They thought I'd make another Illmatic / But it's always forward I'm moving / Never backwards, here's another classic." But before he begins to lead hip-hop into its next era, he has some unfinished business to tend to. The leadoff song, "Ether," answers Jay-Z's "The Takeover," a below-the-belt jab that severely attacked Nas's character and skills. Though the rap audience is way too fickle for one MC to proclaim himself king, Nas confidently responds, "Burner at the side of your dome / Come out of my throne / I got this locked since '91 / I am the truest / Name a rapper that I ain't influence / Gave y'all chapters, but now I keep my eyes on the Judas / With 'Hawaiian Sophie" fame, kept my name in his music." Kim Osorio and The Source awarded Nas the coveted 5 mics for Stillmatic, while Vibe was less generous in their 3.5 review. Vibe argued, "Stillmatic is by no means perfect; in fact, it's infuriatingly inconsistent." Adding, "As usual, Nas's attempts at crossover hits, like the guitar-laced histrionics of "The Flyest," are misguided. Stillmatic's weaknesses demonstrate Nas's conflicted sense of identity, but at his best, Nas is still one of the finest. The sometimes half-baked, but always intriguing political ideas here live up to the claim he made on "Live At The Barbeque" -- 'Nasty Nas is a rebel to America'." Nas is undoubtedly one of my favorite MCs of all-time, but I tend to agree with Vibe, there were inconsistencies and I don't believe it was a 5-mic album. I do believe Nas won the battle with Hov, and that Stillmatic "is an exercise in lyrical courage and musical might." A fine, much-needed addition to his catalog in 2001. 4 mics? Maybe.

Promo sticker and the full review in Vibe Magazine (2/02) are below...