Culture

album reviews: Nas & the Rogers Sisters see stars

Nas
God’s Son
***1/2

Just by looking at the front and back of the new disc from Nas, God’s Son, you get a pretty good idea what’s going on: megalomania. From a Jesus-piece on his chest to the doves in his hands, the “humility” attempted on the cover (a clear boost from any jazz LP of the ’60s and ’70s, take your pick, if you know, you know) seems a little out of place; don’t forget the words “GOD-SON” emblazoned on his crotch via a four-pound belt buckle in the liner notes – actually, just try to forget it.
Anyway, once the first few seconds kick in on the self-produced “Get Down,” all those bad thoughts fizzle. However, as the tracks press on, a little too much stating-the-obvious, which can’t be saved even by Nas’ flow, takes away from the songs’ instrumentals; most of which (check Alchemist) are as hard as Queensbridge pavement.
Anyhow, Alicia Keys shows up, but for some reason it’s not even that bad, until, “Bravehearts!” keeps getting shouted out by Nas, when this clinging posse (Nas’ D12) have already proven to be the worst part of every Nas album – in this case, “Zone Out.”
Regardless, the album has more solid tracks than forgettable ones, but, with all due respect to the memory of Ann Jones, getting some guy Nas wouldn’t even list in the liner notes to croon “one more dance witchu momma” is definitely not the best strategy to make a memorable one. The lack of a verse by Eminem on the track that he produced, “The Cross”, is ridiculous; it’s designed for his flow, period. “Thugz Mansion” is priceless, 2Pac and Nas lay down something that would’ve been good seven years ago and turn it into something amazing today.
The last point, which makes “Last Real Nigga Alive” the fakest track out there, is that the bars “Jesus Christ/ He’s just nice/He just slice like a Ginsu” were already spat by Animal (he even drops his name twice in the song) on AZ’s “Hustler” – how “official” is that? I only saw N. Jones and Ron Brownz on the credits for that shit, no Animal as a ghostwriter in there. The album as a whole is good, not great. There are stellar cuts on it, sure, but that doesn’t make a great album. People need to learn that before it’s too late to make a great album anymore.

– Sven Barth

The Rogers Sisters
Purely Evil
***1/2

I know what you’re thinking, “Great, another rock band made of starving artists from Brooklyn, I’ll go put this on the shelf between my LIARS and The Rapture records that I’ve gotten bored with.” But I say, “Hold your horses, mister.”
Sure, this record has the quirky Brooklyn art school charm you’ve grown used to (ex. the track listing on the back of the CD consists of lines from the songs instead of the titles), but there is really something here.
This record is to The Rapture what Devo was to the Fabulous Poodles (Who are the Fabulous Poodles? Exactly.) The vocals are shout-y and out of tune (think Le Tigre circa 1999), and the music ranges from dance punk to dance punk (brings to mind “Are We Not Men?” or The Peechees (not Peaches).
Standout tracks include “The Money Life”, an ode to the joys of extravagant living, and the most obvious homage stylistically to Mark Mothersbaugh, “Now They Know (XOXO),” a track reminiscent of Gang of Four (even replete with the random chanting of “X O X O”), and “I Dig a Hole”(God, this record drips of Devo influences).
I expect “Calculator” (originally released as a 7″ in anticipation of this record) to become the new indie dance hit, although I would not be surprised to see this end up overlooked not much unlike the recent LIARS and My Morning Jacket tracks that deserved to be ass shakers but never got the chance. And, unlike some other rock combos, the implied family status is factual; not to mention, these chicks are way hot, Brooklyn here I come.

– James Hush

January 24, 2003

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