'From the day you were born there was a gleam in your eye', 'I told him as a youngster he'd be the greatest man alive'; so speaks Jazz veteran and father of Nas, Olu Dara, who features on several tracks on this album.It's the sort of quasi-religious talk that typifies the more pompous end of hip-hop, but hey - Nas deserves that respect than most.
In his latest incarnation our saviour shows a more grown-up, more thoughtful side to his character. Perhaps love, for new beau Kelis, has mellowed Nas. The over-riding theme on Street Disciple is one of imparting the wisdom he has come by on his journey through life and hip hop.
Holier-than-y'all-Nas calls out false idols on "Coon's Picnic". The black role models of the NBA, 'UPN9 and WB who "yes master" on TV' are criticised and Kobe Bryant, Cuba Gooding Jr and Tiger Woods are asked 'what you doing for the hood?' The album has sermons on war, AIDS, and Black on Black violence. When it comes to American politics his 'Who you gonna elect, Satan or Satan?' attitude is at odds with Puffy's recent 'vote or die' campaign.
It's clear he wants to cure not just the ghetto, but the whole world. The Gangster/HolyManeven anoints the dead on "Just a Moment".
Happily there's still room on this double album to turn out a handful of dance floor fillers; the creepy bassy number "Suicide Bounce" where Busta Rhymes guests, and the infectious boing of "Virgo" where Ludacris joins him to Doug E. Fresh's beat-boxing. And he squeezes in the occasional pop at Jay-Z, natch.
With star producers DJ Premier and Dr Dre missing, Streets Disciple may not be the sit-up-and-pay-attention album that God's Son was. But it does deliver Nas trademark package of multi-various flows, arresting narrative and hookless, lyric-focussed rhymes. No one's going to be complaining.