“My first album had no famous guest appearances” may have been a subliminal shot at Jay but Nas actually points out some more subliminal. Although he didn’t have none famous guest appearances, he would make his guest appearance famous. From his highly acclaimed verse from “Life’s a B!tch” his career went up from there to release his even more highly acclaimed 5 mic album “Doe or die”. From then on he hasn’t really made it back up there but he made a good career with his other albums and solid guest appearances.
“So Sincere” starts the album and even though it’s a nice soulful beat equipped with strings and other instruments to give it a happy victorious feel and Az uses a lot of his creative skill in the lyrics to suit the beat, it all seems too played out. It seems like once one does it well a flood of wannabes use it to imitate it and that’s what I feel about the beat. The next one “Never Change” I pretty much feel the same of it as the last one. “New York” featuring Wu members Raekwon and Ghostface is the first real big highlight of the album. Emile who seems to be getting a lot of work for a reason due to the dark, powerful bassline and police sirens giving you that real New York gritty feel which makes you feel your almost there while they paint an even more clearer picture as they pay homage to the streets which raised them. “Can’t stop” is another highlight. The beautiful piano loop used as the backdrop for his deep lyrics about his struggle in the rap game and why he must continue. “Still Alive” is a real low point for the album even AZ normally great lyrics are bad. Over a beat which seems to be a reject from an old computer game AZ does what I can only call a “Game” as he drops names of loads of people in the rap game. “AZ’s chillin” is also another low point. The beat from the usually good producer M.O.P’s “Fizzy Womack” he gives you this powerful and hard drum loop and some awful distorted electric sound while again AZ is below his par level of good lyrics to create a track which would have been done by some one like j-kwon. “City of Gods” brings back the ratings with its relaxing keyboard and funky guitars from Disco D although topic wise it seems all too repetitive from other songs from the album. “Street life” with its weeping strings creates a very sad feel while AZ, Half a mil and Begetz spit pure street poetry. On “Bedtime story”we hear AZ storytelling skills although he seems to imitate Jay-z flow which I can’t see why he would even think to do it as AZ got a cool smooth flow. The first single “The come up” is next and its nothing but beautiful. Its melodic strings and cuts and scratches of the usual masterpieces from NY legend “DJ Premier” and is enjoyable even more with AZ deep street poetry. “Envious” is another really good song with one big flaw. Its dark phantom of the opera type of piano beat and AZ good lyrics are nice my problem is Bounty Killer as on the hook and start he seems to ramble on some weird stuff like his on crack. The last track is actually three tracks rolled into one and all very nice from the funky simplistic guitar outbursts of “live wire” to the soulful “The Truth” ends this album well.
In all, this album gets 3.5 out of 5. Even though the lyrics 90% of the time are there and the beats are beautifully constructed it feels almost like DÃƒÂ©jà vu as the album is very repetitive from other albums on the market and some songs even feel repetitive to each other. One more pro there is no skits. AZ got a cool smooth flow so every track is nice to listen to in that aspect. It’s a cool album to listen to once in a while.
Recommendation: Buy this album if you’re a fan of his or like nice beats and nice lyrics although I wouldn’t really recommend it to people who are bored with the usual stuff in hip-hop at the moment. Also if not sure about this album, download it see if you like it and see if your money will be well invested.