January 31, 2005 12:00 PM



First Outkast released the double disc Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Then Nelly simultaneously issued two separate albums, Sweat and Suit. Now the latest hip-hop act to super-size his musical output is Nas, with this ambitious two-CD set. And the extra-large effort shows that the Queens emcee, whose rap glory was restored with 2002’s God’s Son, remains a highly inspired street poet. Just listen to Disciple’s ingenious highlight “Bridging the Gap,” one of two cuts on which Nas teams up with his jazz musician father, Olu Dara. Set against a harmonica-driven blues riff straight from the jook joint, the autobiographical track finds Nas recounting when he “discovered my father’s music like Prince searching through boxes in Purple Rain.” The song deftly bridges “the gap from the blues to jazz to rap,” as well as from father to son. Elsewhere, Nas turns political on cuts like “American Way,” which features a Q-Tip-produced groove (with samples from George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog”) and a guest vocal from new wife Kelis. The latter brings out the romantic in Nas on tracks such as “Getting Married,” on which he raps, “Say hello to the man, goodbye to the gigolo.”

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Bridging the Gap”

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