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'Streets' Of Fire

NasWhether Nas discourses on street life, politics or love, you can always count on one thing: He is not going to pull any punches. His latest project, the double-CD "Street's Disciple" (Ill Will Records/Columbia), finds the Queens, N.Y., griot picking up the personal threads woven throughout his critically acclaimed "God's Son." On that 2002 album, he waxed rhymes about the loss of his mother and newfound love with Star Trak/Zomba Label Group artist Kelis.

With marriage around the corner, a more content Nas greets listeners on the second half of "Street's Disciple," his eighth studio album. But on the first disc, the 30-year-old channels Nasty Nas, the vivid storyteller who crafted the seminal 1994 debut "Illmatic."

"I wanted to approach this album from a storytelling vibe again," he says. "The songs deal with where I believe men's heads should be at, not falling into bullshit. It may be lighter than 'God's Son,' but there's still a lot of content. And I've also got something on there for the ladies." Joining Nas on this excursion are producers L.E.S., Salaam Remi, Chucky Thompson, Q-Tip and Buckwild. Guests include Kelis, Amerie, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Doug E. Fresh, Maxwell, Nas' father, noted jazz musician Olu Dara, and Nas alter ego Scarlett.

Vestiges of his previous personas surface on such tracks as the cutting "Coon Picnic (These Are Our Heroes)." It satirically excoriates the new millennium African-American stereotypes reflected on TV and in other media. "American Way" admonishes government officials as well as hip-hop artists new to the political arena. Nas then entreats people to "Live Now," which ends with the arresting beep of a patient flat-lining.

The second CD essays more of what personally propels the evolving Nas. He ruminates on his sexual past and envisions his impending marriage on "Remember the Times" and "Getting Married" and pays tribute to old-school rap and kindred spirit jazz on "U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)" and "Bridging the Gap."