On his collaboration album with Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, Nas saves most of his intensity for Strong Will Continue.
The song's final verse is a fiery tirade that boils down his TMZ-headline-grabbing last couple of years - police profiling, cheating, alimony, dating, questions of artistic relevance - with a barrage of references to Geronimo, Louis XIII, Toni Braxton, Bruce Lee and his newborn son, Knight. It's the most thrilling part of the album, followed closely by As We Enter, the line-trading lead single that confirms Nas and Jr. Gong's winning chemistry.
But the rapper isn't as passionate or well-informed about Africa's issues as he is about his own, a problem on an album that's supposed to be all about... Africa. The rest of the album is rife with Bono-worthy platitudes ("Every child deserves to learn") and the didactic rhymes that first caused Jay-Z to ask Nas, "What, you tryin' kick knowledge?"
Meanwhile, Marley dutifully toasts over the record's limp, rootsy production but really only wakes up for the harder beats, which are few and far between.
Top track: As We Enter