Nas's ambitious double disc would have worked better as a single album; there are too many misfires here to warrant 24 tracks. Even so, Nas shows why he is one of rap's premier lyricists on cuts like "These Are Our Heroes," in which he takes on Kobe Bryant and the minstrel-show buffoonery exhibited on the UPN and WB networks. In the chorus, he sarcastically raps: "Let's hear it, one for the coons on UPN 9 and WB/Who 'Yes, Massa' on TV." Instead of idolizing modern-day Sambos and self-centered icons, Nas urges young people to emulate "real folks with clout," such as scholar Michael Eric Dyson and poet Nikki Giovanni. Nas pays homage to his heroes on "U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)" and on "Bridging the Gap," which pairs him with his father, trumpeter Olu Dara. Over a Muddy Waters backbeat, father and son draw a generational bridge between blues, jazz and rap and show a mutual appreciation for each other's musical contributions. Nas also shows maturity on "Getting Married," which makes his inclusion of "The Makings of a Perfect Bitch" inexcusable. This self-proclaimed God's son has plenty to teach, but next time, he should consider editing his lesson plans.


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