- Common's Electric Circus is released on 12/10/2002
- Nas' God's Son is released on 12/13/2002
The end of 2002 was a time for healing in America and in hip-hop. The wreckage of the Twin Towers was still smoldering. The Jay-Z vs. Nas feud was simmering down, but "Stillmatic" and "Got Yourself a Gun" were still getting spins on radio, while Jay-Z's "Takeover" was evolving past rap into a mogul movement. For Nas, it was an especially difficult time: His mother Anne Jones died of cancer earlier that year. No wonder, then, that his album God's Son is one of his most introspective and vulnerable, with tracks like "Dance," "Heaven," and "Thug's Mansion" musing on the afterlife and the loss of his mother. Rounded out with a trio of bangers—"Made You Look" "Get Down," and "Last Real Nigga Alive"—God's Son ranks near the top of Nasty Nas's discography because he was willing to take risks.
Three days earlier, another virtuoso MC dropped a risky album. Common's Electric Circus didn't fare as well, commercially or critically, as Nas' release, but it pushed past the boundaries of hip-hop to embrace rock, pop, soul, and electro sounds—anything but the same old, same old. Three years later, he would return to form with the Kanye West–produced classic Be, but first he had to get all this other stuff out of his system. Call it musical healing. -Rob Kenner