A long-time leader of the ever-expanding hip hop brat pack, NYC's legendary Nasir Jones brings us his ninth album, 14 years on from his musical incarnation.
More poet than entertainer, Nas can, at times, come across over-analytical - a trait often mistaken for acute paranoia. Here, on his now untitled LP (Nas dropped the album's controversial N***er name), you'll find plenty of those infamously deep, dissecting lyrics, but only a smattering of addictive beats to tune in to if you can't be bothered to get all philosophical.
Wistfully hard-hitting track America does, however, manage to hit both spots. While Nas spits his trademark black-power lines (''White cop acquitted for murder/ Black cop cop a plea/ That type of shit make me stop and think/ We in chronic need of a second look of the law books/ And the whole race dichotomy''), the contagious hook reels you in and gets your head unknowingly nodding in no time.
One track that does give pure production pleasure is the slightly egotistical Hero. Forgive the self-righteous lyrics for the futuristic, twinkling keys (courtesy of Polow Da Don) that weave like a club-land Lothario in and out of a robust bassline.
Sadly, at times, the subject matter is too heavy for the average ear; racism being tackled repeatedly, not least on N.I.G.G.E.R. (The Slave And The Master) and the Barack Obama debating Black President. Attention spans are not what they used to be, however, and Nas could reach far more minds by punctuating his strong message with more powerful beats and catchier choruses. But if it's food for thought you're after, as opposed to oodles of hook-laden tracks, this album won't disappoint.