Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Ultimate Nas Project








Release date- April 19, 1994

[Note: After the very positive response to my full Masta Ace Project I posted February 8, 2014, I decided immediately afterwards that I would turn this Nas project, and all other future projects, into full ones.]



Yes indeed, it is finally time for THE project dedicated to my #1 favorite MC of all time, the one and only, Nas!!!!! Before I get to his classic debut, which is also coinciding with the 20th Anniversary release of "Illmatic" today, I want to share some things with you of course!

Like most, I first heard Nas on Main Source's "Live At The Barbeque", and needless to say I thought his verse was great. Fast forward a few years to 1994, "The World Is Yours" was the first song I heard from the album, and I was impressed. From there, I immediately became of a long time fan. I liked this song so much  that I copped the cassette single and I played it till it popped, lol!



What most of you may be surprised to know is that it took me a while to actually buy this album (please don't ask why, lol). My first exposure to the album was borrowing it from TWO next door neighbors back in the day, both of whom lived next to each other, lol. Man, I enjoyed this album SO much I didn't want to give the tapes back, lol. I also remember giving a master copy of CeCe Peniston's first album (with 2 pieces of tissue inside the tape at the top, lol) to a friend named Terrance to dub it for me (I never saw that tape again), as well as somehow ending up with a dubbed copy thanks to my cousin Amp. In the end, I bought this album (the first of 3 times over the years) in August 1997. The strong nostalgic factor will always remain. 

As you can see, there's a lot of history I have with "Illmatic", so without further delay, let's get right to it!


Behind The Boards
Nas
DJ Premier
L.E.S.
Pete Rock
Large Professor
Q-Tip


Featured Guest
AZ



THE ALBUM
 
1. The Genesis
This is where it all begins right here. A fitting intro to say the very least.

2. N.Y. State Of Mind

"Rappers I monkey flip em wit the funky rhythm I be kickin/Musician, inflictin composition/Of pain, I'm like Scarface sniffin cocaine/Holdin a M-16, see wit the pen I'm extreme"

"So now I'm jettin through the building lobby/And it was full of children, probably couldn't see as high as I be"

"I got so many rhymes I don't think I'm too sane/Life is parallel to hell but I must maintain"


After "The Genesis", we head right into the first appropriately titled song on the album. Born and raised in Queens, N.Y., Nas instantly takes you on a lyrical journey through the mind, if you will. This is how it goes down in New York, and Nas paints that picture oh so well.

"Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined/I think of crime, when I'm in a New York state of mind"

*5 out of 5*

3. Life's A Bitch
  
 "Life's a bitch and then you die/That's why we get high, cause you never know when you gonna go"


For starters, that one line above describes this classic in a nutshell. AZ, as the album's sole guest star, delivers his best verse ever and almost steals the show, which is quite hard to do on a song with Nas. Either way, this song highlighted the beginning of a defined chemistry Nas and AZ had with each other over the years. And the trumpet at the end by Nas' father Olu Dara was a very nice touch.
*5 out of 5*

4. The World Is Yours

"I sip the Dom P, watchin Gandhi, til I'm charged/Then writin in my book of rhymes, all the words past the margin"


Yes indeed, this one opening line, followed by the rest of the song, made me fall in love with it (as mentioned in the intro). Whenever I'm asked "what's your favorite Nas song", this is usually the first one that comes to mind. Nas flows memorably well over the piano laced, soulful track provided by Pete Rock.
*5 out of 5*

5. Halftime


"You couldn't catch me in the street without a ton of reefa/That's like Malcolm X catchin the jungle fever/King poetic, too much flava I'm major/Atlanta ain't braver, I'll pull a number like a pager"

"It's like that, you know it's like that/I got it hemmed now you never get the mic back/When I attack there ain't a army that can strike back/So I react never calmly on a hype track"

"Back in 83 I was an MC sparkin/But I was too scared to grab the mics in the parks and/Kick my little raps cause I thought niggas wouldn't understand/And now in every jam I'm the fuckin man/.......... Versatile, my style switches like a faggot/But not bi-sexual, I'm an intellectual/In rap I'm a professional and that's no question yo!"


  Man, those quotes are still amazing to this day. I recall Nas saying at one time that this song was sequenced at song five to serve its purpose as "halftime", an intermission of sorts before we proceed with the second half of the album. And after what we got at this point, a "breather" (a dope one too) was necessary, lol!
*5 out of 5*

6. Memory Lane (Sittin In Da Park)

Nas has always done well when it came to reminiscing about how things used to be, as well as his experiences from childhood to adulthood. This song was the first in which Nas highlights those things in such a descriptive way.
*5 out of 5*

7. One Love


  In a "lyrical letter" dedicated to some of Nas' friends who were locked down, he all but makes sure he still shows love to them and even though he has ambitions to make it in hip hop, he hasn't forgotten them.
*5 out of 5*

8. One Time 4 Your Mind

Honestly, nothing much to say here other than Nas still comes nice over a smooth Large Pro track.
*5 out of 5*

9. Represent

"They call me Nas I'm not ya legal type of fella/Moet drinkin, marijuana smokin street dwella/Who's always on the corner, rollin up blessed/When I dress it's never nothin less than Guess"

Although this DJ Premier produced banger is all about representin where you from and being proud of it, Nas wasts no time rippin the beat to pieces.
*5 out of 5*

10. It Ain't Hard To Tell


"It ain't hard to tell/I excel, then prevail"

Oh man, that one quote does this song no justice at all, and I'd be quoting the entire song if I gave any more quotes, lol. Lyrically, this has to be one of Nas' best songs, hands down. He had to have been focused completely when he made this.
*5 out of 5*


Dear reader, NO amount of hyperbole/praise can put this album in the proper context. Not only did it receive a then coveted 5 mic rating in The Source magazine upon its release, in their 100th issue, it was also voted as the "most overlooked album". That's certainly not the case today, as it's likely one of the most praised albums in hip hop history, deservedly so. Nas, or Nasty Nas as he was also called, was SO lyrically sharp that he forced other MCs to follow suit and step their lyrical game up. He also linked up with some of the finest producers in hip hop at the time to create some soulful, head bobbing East Coast styled production. What more can I say, it's my #1 favorite album of all time, as well as my pick for the greatest album of all time. 


5 stars


Success
*It moved 59,000 copies in its first week

*It was certified Gold on January 17, 1996 

*It became certified Platinum in 2001







 Release date- July 2, 1996


After releasing his critically acclaimed 1994 debut "Illmatic", saying that Nas' sophomore album was one of the most heavily anticipated albums of 1996 would be a complete understatement. But before we get to it, let me back up a bit.


On VERY notable collaborations in 1995 with Mobb Deep ("Eye For An Eye- Your Beef Is Mine), Kool G Rap ("Fast Life"), and Raekwon ("Verbal Intercourse", which may be Nas' best verse ever), he adopted the nickname/alter ego "Nas Escobar", named after the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. Some embraced this change, others didn't, but make no mistake about it, Nas still could deliver the goods on the mic. And with an album that has such a STRONG nostalgic vibe with me, I can't continue on without telling a few stories!


First things first, I owned 3 versions of the cassette (one of them the clean version) and bought the CD twice. The clean version was the first I owned, which I got from a guy named A.K. in the summer of 1996. At the time I had a nice collection of NBA basketball cards, and told him I would trade him the collection for the tape. He agreed. The next day I showed up with the cards, and he had the tape, the clean version. "This is the clean version", I said. Misleadingly, he said "man it got all the cussing in the world on that joint". Well I went ahead and proceeded with the trade anyway, and needless to say, there were NO cuss word to be found, lol. Surprisingly I was not mad at all, but one of my friends (Tyrone Harrsion), raked me over the coals for my decision. "Man you traded your cards for a $10 tape?! You stupid!", he said. I didn't care, lol, I WANTED the album, but this version wasn't good enough for obvious reasons. Later that summer, my aunt Denise bought the album around the time we had went on a family trip to Hershey Park, in July or August of 96. I just had to listen to it, which I did on that bus ride. And you know I just had to ask to borrow it, lol. Honestly, I'm not sure if I gave it back or not, lol, but I just had to have this album. The second version I owned, well, let's just say "I didn't pay for it", smh+lol+facepalm.

The first time I bought the CD was in early 97. My long time friend Shaun and I had went to one of our local record stores, "Crockett's Records Tapes & CDs". My sole purpose during this visit was to buy "It Was Written". Shaun kept pressuring me, in a good way lol, to buy O.G.C.'s "Da Storm" ("I'm tellin you, I'm tellin you, I'm tellin you", he kept saying to me, lol). All I could do was laugh, but I went ahead and bought "IWW" anyway. The second time I copped the album was in early 2003. I have one more story, then I'll begin the project, lol!


Going back to the summer of 96, I went to a local store in my area. As I waited in the car, someone pulled up blasting "Live Nigga Rap", then a few moments later, another car pulled up playing "The Message". I was like, "wow, this album is everywhere". And ALL of this brings us to the next part of the project!



Behind The Boards
Nas
Tone & Poke (Trackmasters)
DJ Premier
Live Squad
Top General Sounds
Lo Ground
Dr. Dre
Dave Atkinson
Havoc
L.E.S.
 Rashad Smith


Featured Guests
AZ
Cormega
Foxy Brown
JoJo (of Jodeci)
Mobb Deep
Lauryn Hill



THE ALBUM

1. Album Intro
 "In the Koran it says Nas, the man. Lisa's the woman, you know. It was written."


2. The Message



"Fake thug, no love/You get the slug/CB4 gusto, ya luck low/I didn't know til I was drunk though"

"Yo let me let y'all niggas know one thing/It's one life, one love so there can only be one king"

"A thug changes and love changes/And best friends become strangers, word up"


Man, I LOVE this one right here. I remember playing this a few years back and a cat I know named Daniel said, "bro this is the hardest thing he's ever done", and he may have been right. "The Message" is a great title for this because Nas was already telling you what direction he was heading in. Either roll with it or get rolled over. 
*5 out of 5*


3. Street Dreams



"God's sake what a nigga gotta do to make a half a million/Without the FBI catchin feelings"

  Every kid wants something that's forbidden and Nas does a very good job detailing that here. Even Nas still had "street dreams" at this point in his career.
*5 out of 5*


4. I Gave You Power

One of the most brilliant concept songs ever in hip hop. Nas eloquently talks about himself as a gun, all the while describing the twists, turns and effects that it brings. The 3rd verse was voted as the best verse of 1996 in the The Source magazine's year end issue for that year. MUST be heard to be appreciated.
 *5 out of 5*


5. Watch Dem Niggas

"They never realize how real Nas is so decisive/It's just the likeness of Israelites mist that made me write this"

Although songs like this have been done before and after, Nas gives his perspective on the all too familiar tale of watching those that are close to you. Be prepared for any and everything. Also, I'm not sure if anyone has ever noticed this, but the actual 3rd verse that Nas raps is totally different from the printed verse in the album insert. I'm still not sure what that was about, but I just thought I'd mention it.
*4 out of 5*


6. Take It In Blood

This is probably one of the more underrated songs on this album. The dopeness continues on this Ultramagnetic MCs sampled track.
*4 out of 5*


7. Nas Is Comin

This was huge in 96, well for me it was, lol. Nas was the first New York MC to collaborate with Dr. Dre. Some have said this could've been better, but it's truly epic to me, for obvious reasons. Oh yeah, this instrumental was played during the commercial promoting the release of the album, another factor that had me hyped.
*5 out of 5*


8. Affirmative Action

"Life's a bitch, but God forgive the bitch divorced me/I'll be flooded wit ice so hell fire can't scorch me" -Nas

The introduction of supergroup "The Firm". This also was a big deal in 96, as AZ, Cormega and Foxy Brown came together with Nas for an ill collabo. And I also remember watching their performance on "Showtime At The Apollo" that summer with my cousin Amp, and losing my damn mind too, lol! You can check out the performance below.
*4 out of 5*

   

9. The Set Up

Over this Havoc produced track, Nas tells another familiar story, the set up. This time, two females are used to catch some unsuspecting dudes in the act. Needless to say, their fates were sealed when they ran into Venus and Vicious, lol.
*4 out of 5*


10. Black Girl Lost

I've always liked what Nas talked about on this apply titled song. On one end, he talks about the black girl with supreme admiration and respect, but on the flipside he's disappointed with the way she carries herself. Very good song.
*4 out of 5*


11. Suspect

"To the suspect witness don't come outside/You might get ya shit pushed back tonight!"


That hook sums up this song perfectly. To the witness, if you saw/know something, stay inside. You've been warned, lol.
*3.5 out of 5*


12. Shootouts

This is how shootouts go down in QB, lyrically or otherwise, and that story is told by Nas in an entertaining fashion.
*4 out of 5*


13. Live Nigga Rap

This Mobb Deep assisted track still bangs. Back in the day, I remember turning my system up sky high when I played this.
*4 out of 5*


14. If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)



Oh yes, one of the best songs of 96 and one of only two Nas songs that still receive radio play to this day. Along with the promotion of Columbia Records, this classic sold the album, and it's still something to behold listening to Nas talk about what he would do if he ruled the world. Lauryn Hill was great on the hook and much love to the legendary Kurtis Blow for the original version.
*5 out of 5*



Allow me to get one thing out the way before I offer my closing words on this album. Remember when bonus tracks were a big thing when it came to albums? I still would like to know whose bright idea it was to put the awesome "Silent Murder" on the CASSETTE version and NOT the CD. That made no sense to me whatsoever.  


Overall, this is still an excellent album from top to bottom. I still remember the semi heavy criticism at the time: Nas sold out, he had abandoned his original style, the Trackmasters' production was too commercial, you name it. I respect those views, however, Nas still came through pretty nicely. I feel it's still unfairly compared to "Illmatic", and yes it's not on the level of that album, but it's no sophomore jinx. It still remains his most successful album to date (4 million copies sold), and after multiple listens over the years, my rating is still the same.


4 stars




   

Release date- April 6, 1999



1996's "It Was Written" was a massive success across the board, even if Nas had alienated some of his fanbase along the way, according to some people on the matter. Although it was untitled at the time, this was first announced as a "double album" in the insert of the The Firm album. 97 and 98 saw Nas take a somewhat hiatus, while still on the scene making guest appearances here and there. "I Am" was another heavily anticipated album, however, an unfortunate happening took place before the album's release date. Apparently bootleggers just had to get their hands on it, because "I Am" was one of the first hip hop albums to be so heavily bootlegged that it caused Nas to scrap most of the original album and record new songs. Some of the material that didn't make it headed straight to the vault, which will be covered when I get to "The Lost Tapes". Due to the anticipation being so high, it didn't halt the momentum at all.



Featured Guests
Puff Daddy
Scarface
Aaliyah
DMX



Behind The Boards
DJ Premier
Pretty Boy
D. Moet
Trackmasters
Nashiem Myrick
Carlos Broady
L.E.S.
Jamel Edgerton
Grease
Timbaland
Alvin West



THE ALBUM

1. Album Intro
I've always liked the first part of this intro, as you get the evolution of Nas at that point, from "Live At The BBQ" to "If I Ruled The World". The second part REALLY was not needed at all, as you had Jungle (and another one of the members of the crew that would come to be known as the Bravehearts) rambling about NOTHING with cliched, tough talk. It almost ruined a good intro.

2. N.Y. State of Mind Pt. II

"A lot of niggas scheamin, some real some niggas frontin/But I'm a big dreamer, so watch me come up wit somethin"


This DJ Premier produced banger starts the album off proper as opposed to the intro. It's a dope sequel, as you get Nas' state of mind in 1999 compared to how things were in 94.
*5 out of 5*


3. Hate Me Now



"Most critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winner/Best storyteller, thug narrator, my style's greater"     

"Want me off the scene fast, but good things last/Like your favorite MC still makin some mean cash/First rapper to bring a platinum plaque back to the projects/But you still wanna hate, be my guest, I suggest"

"You wanna hate me then hate me/What can I do but keep gettin money, funny I was just like you/I had to hustle hard, never give up until I made it/Now y'all sayin that's a clever nigga, nothin to play wit"

"Criticize when I flow for the street, hate my dress code/Gucci this, Fendi that, what you expect ho!"

"Niggas fear what they don't understand, hate what they can't conquer!"


Man, Nas went IN on this classic and I feel Puff Daddy was the right man for the hook. Nas received undeserved hate and criticism stemming from the "It Was Written" album, and this was one hell of a defying statement to all of his haters/detractors. You can hate me now, cause I won't stop now, cause I can't stop now. I feel that!
*5 out of 5*


4. Small World

"It's a small world, you reap what you sow/What goes around comes around, if you sleep you won't know"


At the time you least expect it, you'll be seen again. You'll get away with it now, but soon enough it catches up with you someway somehow. It's a small world, watch what you do! These lines from Nas effectively summarize the story told here. It bangs too.
*5 out of 5*


5. Favor For A Favor

"Nothin but the New York to Texas connection"


This apply titled, Scarface assisted song is truly dope. You got me, I got you, that's what it's all about.
*5 out of 5*


6. We Will Survive

Over the course of three verses, Nas deliver verses dedicated to the late great Notorious BIG and 2Pac, even sending a shot to Jay-Z in the process ("and these niggas is wrong, using your name in vain and they claim to be New York's king, it ain't about that"). He also touches on the evolution of the culture ("hip hop took it billions, I knew we would") and our future as a people. He gets a little more personal this time around and it works.
*5 out of 5*


7.Ghetto Prisoners

Nas delivers another dedication, this time to those locked down. Ghetto prisoners rise rise rise (and keep your heads up).
*4 out of 5*


8. You Won't See Me Tonight

Much love (and RIP) to Aaliyah for her part of the hook and Timbaland for his signature beat. Even at this point Nas' career, he wasn't the "settling down" type, and that's the vibe he gives here. It won't be the last time he touches on a subject like this on the album.
*3.5 out of 5*


9. I Want To Talk To You

Nas has a "hip hop styled" message for the President, Mayor, Governor, FBI, CIA and Congress. He hits the right points when he touches on things such as politics, jobs, race relations, tragic killings, etc. Very good.
*4 out of 5*


10. Dr. Knockboot

"When it come to sex advice, I'm the one to call/If you a virgin wit blue balls or you tear down walls"


I still laugh a bit at that name, lol. Nas has some interesting advice for the fellas. And while the female "do's" on this song are self explanatory, the "dont's" for the fellas are equally noteworthy.
*4 out of 5*


11. Life Is What You Make It

This DMX assisted song is very good, simple yet effective. 
*4 out of 5*


12. Big Things

Nas experiments with the "double time" flow, and he does a good job at it. It was very clear on the "It Was Written" album that he was aiming for bigger things. This song is a confirmation of that.
*3 out of 5*


13. Nas Is Like



"..... is any man worthy of fame/Much success to you, even if you wish me the opposite/Sooner or later we'll all see who the prophet is!"

"Live it and I write it down and I watch it blow up/Y'all know what I'm like, y'all play it in your system every night now!"


One of the best songs of 99, this is another banger produced by DJ Premier, and it's one of my favorite songs from Nas as well. Nas is SO many things to hip hop that one song is simply not enough to describe him.
*5 out of 5*


14. K-I-SS-I-N-G

I can't recall what year it was, but I remember hearing Nas say that R. Kelly's "When A Woman's Fed Up", which was a hit in 99, was so tight that "he had to jack it". Lol, be that as it may, Nas does this one for the woman he desires. It's an ok song, nothing more. Most people I know don't like it, but it's all good.
*3 out of 5*


15. Money Is My Bitch

This is an excellent concept song, as the almighty dollar is the extreme equivalent to a good woman for Nas. Pretty remarkable and too many quotables to list here.
*5 out of 5*


16. Undying Love

We close this album with Nas flexing his storytelling muscles, delivering a compelling beginning, middle and end on this one. Without going into the plot too much, I will say it must be heard to be appreciated.
*4 out of 5*



 What we have here is the 3rd straight excellent album in Nas' discography, also one of 1999's best albums. I still wonder what the initial album would've sounded like had the bootlegging not taken place. While others may disagree, I feel it's a better album than "It Was Written". Lyrically he was still sharp and at the time expanding his subject matter. And man, his career would take a rather interesting turn on the next album.


4.5 stars


Success

*Sold 470,000 copies in its first week

*Certified triple platinum







 Release date- November 23, 1999 [It was planned to be released on October 26, 1999 as noted in the "I Am" album insert, but the bootlegging that plagued it caused a change in plans.]


"Why two (albums) in one year?" -Big Tigger

"Just more to say."


Nas was on Rap City in either October or November of 99 prior to the release of this album (his 4th solo), and this was his response when asked that question. Many were skeptical, but I wasn't. At this point in hip hop, only two artists had released two albums in one year and were very successful doing it, and they were 2Pac and DMX, respectively. Even with Nas' answer, most assumed this album to be nothing more than a collection of songs that either didn't make "I Am", weren't good enough for that album, or both. I also remember listening to some snippets of this album on Nas' website prior to its release. My longtime friend Kentyl joined me, and let's just say one of us wasn't impressed with what he heard, lol. Either way, I anticipated this album quite a bit, copping it the week it came out (Friday, November 26th to be exact, along with the "Streets Is Watching" soundtrack"). Will my views remain the same or has time been kind to this album? We shall see!



Featured Guests
Ron Isley
Nashawn (Millenium Thug)
Mobb Deep
Bravehearts
Ginuwine


Behind The Boards
Nas
Rich Nice
L.E.S.
Dame Grease
Trackmasters
DJ Premier
Havoc
Timbaland


THE ALBUM

1. The Prediciton  
Other than a clear attempt to be different, I still continue to wonder what the purpose of this spoken intro performed by Jessica Care Moore was. Other than that, it leads us right into.....


2. Life We Chose

I would've been perfectly fine with this song actually opening the album. It's apply titled in its own way, as Nas talks about life in general and what results in terms of the choices we make.
*4 out of 5*


3. Nastradamus



In my view, this was a damn good choice for a first single. Fans and critics scoffed at this song for its apparent commercial image, and while it wasn't his best lyrically, it wasn't a bad song. And two points/facts about this song: 1) this was the first music video to use 3-D technology and 2) the line "you wanna ball til you fall, I can help you wit that" was seen as a shot at Memphis Bleek, who threw a shot himself at Nas on "My Mind Right" ("your lifestyle's written/so who you posed to be, play your position"). This was only the beginning.
*4 out of 5*


4. Some Of Us Have Angels

This is the second best song on the album. Nas effectively paints the verbal picture of those who have angels (kingdom, power, glory) and demons (greed, lust, temptation), and in addition, he talks about people who struggle with both of them, even hinting that there are "two sides of us". Powerful and thought provoking.
*5 out of 5*


5. Project Windows

"Plan to leave somethin behind, so your name will live on/No matter what the game lives on"


Without a doubt, this is the best song on "Nastradamus". Prior to this album's release, there was a Nashiem Myrick and Carlos Broady produced version that made the mixtape circuit in 99, but this final version re-produced by the Trackmasters is VERY nice. This is not quite a "down memory lane" type song, but rather Nas talks about what he (and others) have seen, growing up, looking out project windows, both positive and negative. Classic song here and the soulful hook provided by Ron Isley was a welcomed addition.
*5 out of 5*


6. Come Get Me

This DJ Premier produced banger may not have the spark or "N.Y. State of Mind" and "Nas Is Like", but hot damn Nas still comes through lyrically blazing at any and all haters ("if you want me come get me, cause I ain't runnin").
*4 out of 5*


7. Shoot Em Up

Lol, let's get the obvious out the way first. Havoc's beat simply knocks, yes indeed. Now, Nas is my boy, but WHO told him making a thugged out version of the "Christmas Carol" was a good idea?? This song stops the momentum of the album dead in its tracks.
*2 out of 5*


8. Last Words

Although the name Millenium Thug (also known as Nashawn) would likely draw laughs today, he does a good job alongside Nas on this one.
*3.5 out of 5*


9. Family

We have heard "the family ties/down for the fam/love for the fam" type songs before, and in this case, done better. This Mobb Deep assisted song is good for what it is, but nothing more.
*3 out of 5*


10. God Love Us

Even though your most hardcore, thugged out (I brought that back didn't I, lol) I don't care minded individuals are not perfect (none of us are), Nas makes a case here that God loves all of us, no matter what.
*4 out of 5*


11. Quiet Niggas

This was more or less a showcase for Nas' crew, The Bravehearts, and they've never been impressive on the mic. This easily could've been left on the cutting room floor.
*1.5 out of 5*


12. Big Girl

Nas makes another one for the ladies. Well, this is not even on the level of "K-I-SS-I-N-G" and this is the last song on the album he should've brought back the "double time" flow for.
*2 out of 5*


13. New World

I like this one and what Nas was aiming for. He wasn't talking about the world at the time in 99, but rather giving his interesting predictions as to where the world was heading. Some of these predictions came true too.
*4 out of 5*


14. You Owe Me



Yes, it's that song, and trust me it continues to be a sour note for a lot of people. This was even more critically maligned than "Nastradamus" was. In a way, I can see why. Were Nas and Ginuwine really trying to say women "owed them" for simple things such as holding their jewelry??? Interestingly enough, this is the second of only two Nas songs (the other being "If I Ruled The World") that still receive radio play today.
*2 out of 5*


15. The Outcome


*16. Hustlers And Killers

For those who purchased the first pressing of the album, included was a bonus disc with this song. It's good and it certainly could've replaced songs like "Shoot Em Up", "Big Girl" and "Quiet Niggas".
*3.5 out of 5*




Let's start with the fans and critics. While the album was a commercial success (moving 232,000 copies in its first week, becoming certified Platinum on December 22, 1999), it was not received well on a critical level, as feedback LARGELY mixed and negative. The singles "Nastradamus" and "You Owe Me" were not well received either, leading many to call this the worst album of Nas' career. Talks of falling off begin and they continued as the year 2000 arrived, and how did Nas bounce back from this? That'll be covered when I get to "Stillmatic".

Oh yeah, my thoughts, lol. I've always given this album 3.5 stars, and I honestly can't go any further than that, even though I wanted to. The album starts off fairly strong, but as mentioned, once we got to "Shoot Em Up", the momentum stopped. The skits between the songs were no help and ended up being unnecessary. Surprisingly, this is likely the most fast paced album in his discography, but an artist the caliber of Nas is capable of MUCH more, and we'll definitely see that on his 5th album. 






 Release date- December 18, 2001


1999 was bittersweet for Nas to say the least. While "I Am" was an excellent album that impressed most fans, "Nastradamus" didn't receive the same love, and although Nas was still on the scene going into the year 2000, the allegations of him falling off continued and never was this clear than when the "QB's Finest" compilation was released. You can say that this comp was more or less a showcase for fellow Queensbridge artists, including Nas. While "Da Bridge 2001" made some noise, the comp overall did little to help Nas' standing in hip hop at the time, and being released in the same month as Jay-Z's "The Dynasty Roc La Familia" seemed to have made things a little worse. Fans and critics alike began to wonder, was this it for Nas? I'll answer this and more coming up.


Now before I begin, allow me to share the first of a few stories on this album. I bought this on the day of its release from Circuit City. My friend Kentyl was along for the ride. He hadn't even heard the album yet and already was predicting a disappointment, smh+lol. This did not deter me whatsoever. Got it the store, and I noticed a former co-worker named Shamon was an employee there (we both worked together at Pizza Hut at the time). "Stillmatic" was the ONLY album on my mind, so I hurried and grabbed my copy after about 2 minutes in the store, lol. While at the register paying for it, Shamon asks, "yo you buyin this joint?" "Yep", I replied. Shamon then says, "good luck with that homie". Kentyl was right there, "that's what I'm tellin him man!", lol. All of this leads us into 2001's "Stillmatic".



Featured Guests
Mary J. Blige
The Bravehearts
AZ
Amerie
Millenium Thug


Behind The Boards
Nas
Hangman 3
Ron Browz
Megahertz
 Precision
Large Professor
Chucky Thompson
DJ Premier
Baby Paul
Mike Risko
L.E.S.
Staff
Swizz Beatz The Monster
Trackmasters
 Lofey
Salaam "The Chameleon" Remi



 THE ALBUM

1. Stillmatic (The Intro)

"Ayo the brotha stillmatic/I crawled up outta that grave, wipin the dirt, cleanin my shirt/They thought I'd make
  another Illmatic, but it's always forward I'm movin/Never backward stupid, here's another classic"

"Blood of a slave, heart of a king"


I did a countdown of my Top 30 Best Openers on the blog and this intro was my #3 pick. In one fell swoop, Nas metaphorically admits he's risen from the dead, survived his share of trials and tribulations, and although he'll never be able to recreate "Illmatic", he's moving forward the best way he can. Nasty Nas was back!
*5 out of 5* 


2. Ether

Oh yeah, Nas' response to Jay-Z's "Takeover"! Before I begin to dissect this song the same way I did the aforementioned "Takeover", allow me to share another story with you. Prior to this, I actually first heard the "Stillmatic freestyle" (remember those days). Kentyl and I were on our way to the mall when this came on, and we were both quiet during the entire freestyle. When Nas said, "is he H to O, M to O/fa shizzle you phony the rappin version of Sisqo", both of our jaws just dropped completely. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and all I could say was "it's on now".


"Brace yourself for the main event y'all been patiently waitin/It's like a AIDS test, what's the result, not positive"


Nas comes out with his lyrical guns blazin, confirming here (and later in this song) that everyone had been waiting for this battle for a long time, and now we were going to get it.


"How could Nas be garbage, semi autos at ya cartiledge/Burner at the side of ya dome, come outta my throne/I got this locked since 9-1, I am the truest/Name a rapper that I ain't influence/Gave y'all chapters but now I keep my eyes on the Judas/Wit Hawaiian Sophie fame kept my name in his music, check it"


Although he didn't say it a lot on record, you could tell Nas was claiming himself "King of NY" here. Jay kept his name in his music? Well, in a sense that's true, taking into consideration the samples on "Rap Game, Crack Game" (Represent) and "Dead Presidents" (The World Is Yours). Speaking of the latter song, the word at one time was Jay had wanted Nas to do a collaboration, likely on the "Reasonable Doubt" album, but Nas either didn't show up, wasn't interested, or both.


"I've been fucked over, left for dead, dissed and forgotten/Luck ran out, they hoped that I'd be gone, stiff and rotten"


Yes indeed, already covered this in detail. Basically after being written off by fans and critics alike, as well as the lyrical attacks from Jay, it was only fitting that Nas return with an aggressive side we never seen before.


"When these streets keep callin, heard it when I was sleep/That this Gay-Z and Cock-a-Fella Records wanted beef/Started cockin up my weapon, slowly loadin up this ammo/To explode it on a camel and his soldiers I can handle this for dolo/And his manuscript, just sound stupid when/KRS already made an album called Blueprint/First, Biggie's ya man, then you got the nerve to say that you're betta than Big..... won't you let the late great veteran live"


Oh man, wow. The streets did want this "beef", if you will. I also recall Nas initially saying he wasn't going to respond to "Takeover", however, with everyone buzzin about that song (and Nas' career), you cannot let a song like that go unanswered and that would've been the biggest mistake of Nas' career. Continuing on, Nas COULD handle this for dolo, as he didn't need the Bravehearts or anyone else to back him up. I do disagree with Nas on the KRS comment. To be fair, KRS/BDP's 3rd album title was "Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of HIp Hop" and I don't think Jay was biting KRS by naming his 5th album "The Blueprint". Furthermore, Jay did catch a few people off guard by saying "if I ain't betta than Big, I'm the closest one". 


"In 88, you was gettin chased through your building/Callin my crib and I ain't even give you my numbers/All I did was give you a style for you to run wit"


I doubt that Nas and Jay had any contact in the late 80s, lol, but that's neither here nor there. I also think Nas had mentioned at one time that he felt Jay copied his style. When you compare their "Illmatic" and "Reasonable Doubt" beginnings respectively, there were a few similarities, such as clear cut flow, descriptive lyrics, vision, storytelling skills, etc, but I personally never thought Jay copied Nas' flow. Today they still remain two MCs who can never be compared to anyone else.


"Is he Dame Diddy, Dame Daddy, or Dame Dummy/Oh I get, you Biggie and he's Puffy/Rockefeller died of AIDS, that was the end of his chapter/And that's the guy you chose to name y'all company after?"


I recall laughing when I first heard that Dame line, lol. I also think Nas was the only one who called out the label/crew for the naming of the company. Decent jabs here.


"Eminem murdered you on your own shit"


In an interesting turn of events, this line specifically and the song overall is why "ether" became a term, not just for lyrically striking back against a rival, but when you get bested on your own song by the guest. People have said this for years about "Renegade" and I talked about this in the Jay Z project for "The Blueprint". In short, I'm one of the very few people who disagreed with the notion that Em murdered Jay on his own song.


"How much of Biggie's rhymes is gon come out of your fat lips"


Lol, name calling aside, Nas (and others) took issue with Jay quoting Big's lines in some of his most popular hits. Again, to be fair, Jay would later say "I say a Big verse, I'm only biggin up my brother". 


I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Takeover" lit a fire under Nas that previously wasn't there, and what resulted was one of the best diss songs in hip hop history. I shudder to think where Nas' career would be had he not responded to Jay.
*5 out of 5*


3. Got Ur Self A...



"My first album had no famous guest appearances/The outcome, I'm crowned the best lyricist/Many years on this professional level/Why would you question who's better, the world is still mine"

"You lames should huddle, ya team shook/Y'all feel the wrath of a killa, cause this is my football field/Throwin passes from a barrel, shoulder pads apparel/But the QB don't stand for no quarterback/Every word is like a sawed off blast, cause y'all all soft/And I'm the black hearse that came to haul y'all ass in"

 "This is Nasdaq doe, in my Nascar/Wit this Nas flow, what could beat that, not a soul reppin/Hit the record store, never let me go, get my whole collection"

"It's the return of the prince, the boss/This is real hardcore, Kid Rock and Limp Biskit's soft"


I remember this classic receiving a decent amount of radio play at the time, but unfortunately it didn't last long. Either way, this was the perfect first single for the album. After "Ether", this proved he was back with a vengeance.
*5 out of 5*


4. Smokin

I always thought this was a dope song, but now when I think it, I feel Nas made a song for the smokers (first time ever). I'm not sure why this is just hitting me now, lol.
*4 out of 5*


5. You're Da Man

"They plan was to knock me out the top of the game/But I overstand, they truth is all lame/I hold cannons that shoot balls of fame/Right in they fat mouth then I carve my name"

"I never asked to be top of rap's elite/Just a ghetto child tryin to learn the traps of the streets/But look at me now"


Nas definitely had come along way since 91 and this Large Pro produced track is a reflection of that. Confident and thankful at the same time.
*5 out of 5*


6. Rewind

Creative and innovative. Nas was (and still is) the first MC to tell a story BACKWARDS. Not trying to overhype it, but the skills are incredible, must be heard to be appreciated. I bet Nas hasn't attempted this again due to not being able to top it.
*5 out of 5*



7. One Mic



All Nas needs is one mic, nothing else, and that sums up this song in a complete nutshell. What makes this song so notable is during the first 2 verses, he's relatively calm in the beginning and middle, then towards the end, with every bit of energy he has, he goes IN until the hook, at which point he calms down again. The 3rd verse he does all of this again, but in reverse. This is incredibly effective because, much like "Ether", we never seen this side of Nas. I remember a guy named DaVonne saying at the time "he sounds like he's trying too hard". I respectively disagreed. I felt it was new and fresh.
*5 out of 5*


8. 2nd Childhood




[First, the scratched hook ---> "When I flow for the street, who else could it be? N-A-S, Nas!" Now, you heard the end right? Well, what most don't know is that while it's Biz Markie from "Nobody Beats The Biz", he actually doesn't say "Nas". He's saying "recogNIZE it's the king of disco". So what Premo did was cut the "NIZE" part and turned it into a Nas sample. Pretty brilliant, and I know I'm the first person to speak about that.]

 As for the song itself, it's nicely apply titled. At this point in my life, I know what it's like to experience a "2nd childhood" and again, Nas paints this picture so well. This would also mark the last time Nas worked with Premo until 2012.
*5 out of 5*


9. Destroy & Rebuild

Man, I can't recall a Nas album since where he went in on any and everyone who had issues with him. In this case, Cormega, Nature and Prodigy of Mobb Deep feels his lyrical wrath. Starting with Cormega, their history dates back to the pre-Illmatic days. The short version of a long story is that while Mega was part of the original Firm lineup that included Nas, Foxy Brown and AZ, creative differences and apparent contract issues led to Mega being unceremoniously dropped from the group, with Nature serving as his replacement. Looking at how that Firm album turned out, I'm sure Mega didn't lose any sleep over it. Although their war or words didn't start till mid 2001, Nas and Mega had not been on the same page since, and keep in mind they were both on the song "Da Bridge 2001", ALONG with Nature and Prodigy. I'm not sure what went down with Nature, but Nas saying "he moved to Marcy" could've been seen as him "defecting" to Roc-A-Fella, but I've never heard anything to the contrary. And poor Prodigy, lol. He couldn't catch a break, as even after Jay's "Takeover", Nas speaks on him, but not in a "traditional diss". I assume even through their prior collaborations, their relationship was more business than personal, and at some point in 2001 it became rocky. They patched things up as of 2011, but I'm not sure if the same can be said about Mega and Nature. Wow, and I didn't forget about the song, lol, which is also good. Not as aggressive as "Ether", but it makes its points.
*4 out of 5*


10. The Flyest

To this day, I still have no idea who the woman on the hook is (who did a good job), plus she's not credited on the album insert. Nevertheless, the strong chemistry between Nas and AZ continues with this smooth track.

"We both hard hit, just like Camacho and Vargas/Who's the target, now watch how we close the market muthafuckas!"

*5 out of 5*


11. Braveheart Party

For starters, as mentioned, I bought this on the day of its release, so my copy has this one. Simply put, this is the worst song on the album, probably the second worst song Nas has been a part of. Then again, what's worse, this or "Oochie Wally", lol? I still laugh when I hear Nas use the term "bubbles" to describe a woman's backside (it didn't take off like he probably hoped, lol). It also goes without saying that the Bravehearts add NOTHING to this song and it was not one of Swizz Beatz' best moments behind the boards. And on top of ALL that, Ms. Mary J. Blige was not impressed, as this song was removed from future pressings of the album at her request and can you blame her?
*1 out of 5*


12. Rule 



"Why then must it go on, we must stop the killings/Tell me why we die, we all God's children"

"There shouldn't be nobody homeless/How can the President fix other problems when he ain't fixed home yet"

"In hip hop, the weapons are lyrical/To be the best you challenge the best and the blessings are spiritual"


Nas and Amerie call for world peace on this very good song, a nice lead in to the next one.
*5 out of 5*


13. My Country

"American born, American raised, American made"


This wouldn't be the first or last time that Nas talks about our country and its issues. Simply put, instead of viewing it as a positive development, our country has vilified and demonized men of color for seeing and knowing too much, and in my view you can never feed your brain too much. He also notes two legendary men in Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., both of whom were fighting for peace in the 1960s, but in the end were assassinated, destroyed by their own country.
*5 out of 5*


14. What Goes Around

What goes around, comes around, and what goes up, must come down. That's the theme of this one, and again it finds Nas dropping some factual knowledge.
*5 out of 5*


*15. Every Ghetto

This was the first of three Circuit City bonus tracks. 

"My skin is an art gallery right, wit paintings of crucifixes/Hoping to save me from all the dangers in the music business"

"Could you believe even my shadow's jealous/My skin is mad at my flesh/My flesh hates my own bones, my brain hates my heart/My heart makes the songs, though my songs come from the Father/I'm lonely, hold me it's gettin darker"


Even someone like Nas has his trials and tribulations. He may not go deeply into that here, but what he does provide is captivating and it works.
*5 out of 5*


*16. No Idea's Original

"No idea's original, there's nothin new under the sun/It's never what you do, but how it's done"

"Genesis is deep, my features are that of a God, it's not a facade/In fact these rappers wanna be Nas/My exodus doesn't exist, I never leave the streets it's all in my mind/Even wit sleep I'm duckin nines in my dreams"


I get what Nas was aiming for here, but the premise of "no idea's original" applies more to today's scene than it did in 2001.


*17. Everybody's Crazy

Compared to how things are today, society was at total peace when Nas made this song. It's also interesting to listen to songs like this, reflect on how things were at the time and looking at where we are today.
*4 out of 5* 



Well, what can I say? This album holds up today and sounds just as good now as it did in 2001. Nas made a strong return and proved he still had it. This album received a lot of deserved praise at the time, and all of the fans, critics and naysayers had to sit up and take notice. The man's career was not dead, but re-energized. I continue to refer to this as "Illmatic 2001", it was and still is my pick for best album of 2001, his best since "Illmatic". Job well done.


5 stars

Success 

*debuted at #8 on the Billboard 200 chart, first week sales of 342,600, eventually went double platinum, moving 2,026,000 units







Release date- September 23, 2002

       
The following words, courtesy of The Village Voice, which were included in the album insert defines this album quite well and I'll use them as the intro.


"The Lost Tapes is already a pre-release classic. Comprised of tracks made during especially prolific recording sessions for the classic albums I Am and Stillmatic, these songs are famous for never having been officially released. Mainly heard on select underground mixtapes, fans have tried to collect these songs one by one for their own Nas anthologies. In appreciation of the immense love and interest shown by the fans, Nas, Ill Will and Columbia Records meet the incredible street demand by releasing The Lost Tapes. Now available for the first time ever are the mastered, completed songs as Nas had intended. Easily one of the most important writers of the century."  



Behind The Boards
Precision
The Alchemist
L.E.S.
Track Masters
Rockwilder
Hill
Al West
Deric Angelettie


 THE ALBUM


1. Doo Rags

Nas always did a great job when it came to creating songs reliving the days of the past and he does that here. He brought back the doo rags too, lol.
*4 out of 5*


2. My Way

"I live for the street glory and I'd die for ghetto fame/Respect all, fear none, my pride is everything"


Over a signature Alchemist track, Nas pulls no lyrical punches. Whatever he did throughout his career, he did it his way, like most MCs.
*4 out of 5*


3. U Gotta Love It

Nas is rugged, laid back and confident on this apply titled song.
*4 out of 5*


4. Nothing Lasts Forever

"A lot of time it seems like you ain't gon make it where you wanna be in life. But yo, if you got a plan, believe me you gon get there, you gon get everything you ever wanted baby. That's my word."


That opening is a true motivator for me and it should be for everyone else who envisions a bright future for themselves.


"Everything will eventually come to an end
So try to savor the moment, cause time flies don't it
The beauty of life, you gotta make it last for the better
Cause nothing lasts forever"


The opening lines and hook sums up this excellent song perfectly.
*5 out of 5*


5. No Ideas Original

"We coincide, we in the same life, maybe a time difference/On a different coast but we share the same sunlight"


I consider this a remix of the version that appears on "Stillmatic". It features the same lyrics plus a nicely utilized sample courtesy of Barry White's "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little Bit More Baby"               
*4 out of 5*


6. Blaze A 50

This gem blazed a good number of mixtapes in 1999 and it was one of the songs that were cut from the "I Am" album (it definitely would've been out of place on "Nastradamus"). Revisiting this today, it almost serves as a prequel to "Undying Love". Still dope.
*4 out of 5*


7. Everybody's Crazy

This was included as a Circuit City bonus track on the "Stillmatic" album.
*4 out of 5*


8. Purple

"Too much of anything will hurt you so, my state of mind's all purple"


This song is pretty brilliant, one you must take your time with when you listen to it. It's also a song that makes you draw your own conclusions (in terms of its meaning) when it's over.
*5 out of 5*


9. Drunk By Myself

This is the second song on the album that was cut from "I Am", and it's another brilliant one. Nas paints an exquisite picture of being drunk by himself and everything that's going through his mind in the process, with a logical conclusion. Must be heard to be appreciated.
*5 out of 5*


10. Black Zombie

I really like this one. Nas talks about how us as African Americans then (and probably now) are just walking zombies, going along with any and everything, when we really don't have to. "Why listen to somebody else tell you how to do it when you can do it yourself. It's all in you."
*4 out of 5*


11. Poppa Was A Player

Song number three that didn't make "I Am". From birth to the present time, Nas showed mad love and respect to his father for all the knowledge and wisdom he's inherited.
*5 out of 5*


12. Fetus (Belly Button Window)

This also didn't make "I Am", and man, does it seem like a lot of great material was cut from that album or what? Well we can thank the bootleggers for that unfortunately. I also recall there being a second version of this song, which is another brilliant one. Nas crafts this one SO good that he leads you to believe he had a vision while still in the womb. Also, listen closely to the water bubbling sounds in the background while Nas is rapping. A remarkable journey indeed.
*5 out of 5*



The following songs were ALSO cut from "I Am", however, to this day I still would've liked for them to have been included on this album. (I'm glad to have them in my archives though, lol). Check em out, they would've fit well.









Overall, you certainly can't go wrong with this excellent collection of songs. In addition, Nas had also announced a sequel to "Lost Tapes" in 2010, but that hasn't come to fruition. Hopefully it still will one day. It's unfortunate that the "I Am" album was plagued with heavy bootlegging, but the bright side is that these songs were unlocked and let out the vault to see the light of day, even with the three omissions above. Awesome album.


5 stars


Success

*it has moved 340,000 units in the U.S. as of July 2008




             

       Release date- December 13, 2002


Prior to this release in 2002, Nas' career was on a definite upswing, especially after the release of the classic "Stillmatic" in 2001. In addition to the "From Illmatic to Stillmatic: The Remixes" EP, he also released the excellent "Lost Tapes" in 02 (as previously covered), so as you can see, musically he was doing just fine. Personally, things were challenging for him, and I'm certainly going to cover that in this album, which I bought 2 weeks after its release.



Featured Guests
Bravehearts
Claudette Ortiz
Kelis
2Pac (posthumously)
J. Phoenix
Alicia Keys
Lake
Jully Black


Behind The Boards
Nas
Salaam Remi
Eminem
Ron Browz
The Alchemist
Claudio Cueni
Michael Herring
Alicia Keys
Chucky Thompson
Agile
Saukrates



THE ALBUM   


1. Get Down



"Southern niggas independent label, real killas/Know the business, ran Tennessee for years now they chillin/They had the coke game somethin crazy/Sold music out the trunk of they car, that shit amazed me"

 
James Brown's "Funky Drummer" and "The Boss" are just two of the four classics sampled nicely for this dope opener. It does make you "get down", no question.
*4 out of 5*


2. The Cross

"I carry the cross, if Virgin Mary would've had an abortion
I'd still be carried in the chariot by stampedin horses
Had to bring it back to New York
I'm happy that the streets is back in New York
For you rappers I carry the cross"

"I was the old king of New York, that y'all once hated/But now I reinvented myself, and y'all all waited"

 
In addition to continuing to assert himself in hip hop and continue to confirm the reinvention of himself, the hook to this sums up this very good, Eminem produced song.
*4 out of 5*


3. Made You Look



"Y'all appointed me to bring rap justice/But I ain't 5-0, y'all know it's Nas yo!"

"I see niggas runnin, yo my mood is real rude/I'll lay you out, show you what steel do"

"(Gunshot).... they shootin/Aw made you look/You a slave to a page in my rhyme book"


Man, I felt this was a banger when I first heard it and I still do today. Some may say this was the last true banger from Nas, but I respectively disagree. Either way, this remains dope.
*4 out of 5*


4. Last Real Nigga Alive

"Y'all know about my Biggie wars/Who you thought Kick In The Door was for, but that's my heart"


Honestly, when I first heard that line, I had no idea that Biggie classic was aimed at Nas, so to hear him confirm it blew my mind at the time. My reaction would've been totally different had I known this in 97, lol. I also feel this song closes the book on his beef/feud with Jay-Z. It wouldn't be completely over yet though, as we'll see later down the line.
*4 out of 5*


5. Zone Out

I almost "nodded out" while Bravehearts were on the mic, lol. Seriously, those guys brought NOTHING to the table, and this song was another prime example of that. My score is basically for Nas' verse alone.
*1.5 out of 5*


6. Hey Nas

This was a somewhat smooth joint for the ladies, but not as good as it could've been I think. Nas and Kelis would connect in more ways than one after this.
*2 out of 5*


7. I Can



I actually did a project using this song when I attended Richard Bland College in 2003. This is quite the motivational song for little boys and girls everywhere, and it was fitting to have that type of presence on the hook with Nas. And if there ever was a time where a song like this should be heard by the next generation, it's this one, applicable much more towards today than 2002. You can be whatever you want to be, if you work hard at it, yes indeed. 

Save the music.
*5 out of 5*


8. Book Of Rhymes

A highly creative song by Nas. While the rhymes he delivered were done on the spot, complete with the trashing of some afterwards, it can be argued that "it wasn't what we may think", but I have no problem giving him the benefit of the doubt, although I never doubted him or this song, lol.
*5 out of 5*


9. Thugz Mansion (N.Y.)

While this was a very good song,  I feel this was done solely to get Nas and Pac vocals on the same song.
*4 out of 5*


10. Mastermind

Look up the word "mastermind" and you should see a pic of Nas. He lyrically shows he can be one calculating, strategic MC, definitely my favorite song on this album.
*5 out of 5*


11. Warrior's Song

When faced with adversity, Nas didn't give up, so that right there makes him a warrior. Alicia Keys, who also produced this, was not out of place and contributed well to this song.
*5 out of 5*


12. Revolutionary Warfare

"And be ready to die for what you believe in/And ride all the time not just when convenient" -Lake 


Not to say that this is a bad song (it's not), but this easily could've made the "Stillmatic" album. Now when I think about it, it fits this album better, even though its something we've all heard before.
*4 out of 5*


13. Dance

Wow, I was tearing up while listening to this. Nas' mother, Ann Jones, passed away on April 7, 2002 from cancer, and this is Nas' emotional tribute to her. Jungle, Nas' brother and 1/3 of the Bravehearts, has often said that he'll never be able to listen to this song. And can you blame him? I'd really expect him to break down in a major way if/when he finally does listen to it. The horns provided by Olu Dara closes this song in a beautiful way. Best song on the album.
*5 out of 5*


14. Heaven

If heaven was a mile away, what would you do? That's one of many thought provoking questions asked by Nas on this very good closer.
*4 out of 5*



BONUS DISC (More bang for our bucks)

1. Thugz Mirror
This was a freestyle, nothing more or less.


2. Pussy Killz
 
Unique song title aside, Nas is talking about that oh so valuable part of a woman's body coming back to haunt him and others, literally and figuratively, if they're not careful. Nas even says "I swear my dick is gonna get me in trouble, I piss in bubbles/I thought I felt a sharp pain, betta stick to rubbers". Lol.
*4 out of 5*


3. The G.O.D.

"The G-O-D S-O-N/K-I-N-G O-F N-Y-C that's me!"


That hook above says it all! This joint almost comes off as a freestyle, but it's dope, brief and it makes its points. He even put the then rumors of him signing to Murder Inc Records to rest too.
*4 out of 5*



 One of the most interesting things about this album is that when I first played it, I honestly was not impressed, which was the first and last time that happened with a Nas album. I don't know what I missed the first time around, but I was not happy. Second time I threw it in, I was like, "hold up now", and usually when I say that, I'm taking a legit liking to something. It instantly grew on me with that second listen and I appreciated it more. This was his most personal album to that point, and when discussing this album, I refer to it as "emotional brilliance" because that's exactly what it is. I'd say this would be a sure fire 5 star album had it not been for "Hey Nas" and "Zone Out". Excellent album.


4.5 stars


Success

*it moved 156,000 units in its first week

*certified Platinum as of January 14, 2003      






           
    Release date- November 30, 2004


After releasing two excellent albums in 2002, as well as the 10th Anniversary Platinum Edition of "Illmatic" in 2003, it was time for Nas' next studio album, "Street's Disciple". Anticipation for me was automatic, not only because it was Nas, but he was finally releasing a double album, something I'd been waiting for as far back as 1999. Starting with this album (and the "Illmatic" 10th anniversary), I bought all future Nas albums on the day were released.


Featured Guests
Olu Dara
Kelis
Amerie
Quan
Emily
Busta Rhymes
Ludacris
Doug E. Fresh
Maxwell 
    Keon Bryce


Behind The Boards
Nas
Chucky Thompson
Salaami Remi
L.E.S.
Q-Tip
Buckwild
Bernando "Nardo" Williams
Herb "Staff" Middleton 



THE ALBUM


DISC 1


1. Intro 
We begin the album in an interesting way, with a spoken word between Nas and peace.


2. Message To The Feds, Sincerely, We Are The People

The intro leads us right into this lyrical letter (to the Feds) on behalf of Nas and the people.
*4 out of 5*


3. Nazareth Savage

"You wack nigga face it/In the history of the game, you have no placement"


I thought this was sort of a continuation of "The Cross" from the "God's Son" album. Not quite, but it's very good though.
*3.5 out of 5*


4. American Way

A sample courtesy of George Clinton's classic "Atomic Dog" definitely wasn't out of place in 2004. Kelis assists Nas on this excellent song, calling out everyone from the Bush Administration (in the White House at the time) to those who criticize hip hop but on the flipside endorsed the "Rock The Vote" campaign. I understood Nas' points at the time that some people were in a hurry to support individuals who went against everything that hip hop stood for, literally and figuratively, in addition to all the other issues facing our country at the time. The American Way indeed.
*4 out of 5*


5. These Are Our Heroes

I'll tell you one thing, when Nas calls someone out, it's notable. The theme of this song questions how we view celebrities, some may call them "heroes" as he alludes to here. Two names that were on the receiving end of Nas' lyrical wrath were Kobe Bryant (infidelity and bad mouthing former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal) and apparently P. Diddy (lack of passion for the music and other things). Also, it was said that the original title was going to be "Coon's Picnic", which is a little controversial obviously. In short, watch who you call a hero.
*4 out of 5*


6. Disciple

"This ain't 50, this ain't Jigga/This ain't Diddy/This ain't pretty, paid, power, pussy and pistols/Lyrically no one hold none near me"


The two lines above tells you all you need to know about this fast paced banger. Nas goes in on possibly the best song on the first disc, lyrically.
*5 out of 5*


7. Sekou Story

Had this song stopped at the 1:10 mark, it would've been so much better. Instead, we get a verse from "Scarlett". A word on "Scarlett" if I may. Have you ever noticed in the album insert that her real name is not credited? Have you ever noticed that after this album we never heard from "her" again? Well I can tell you why. Although it has never been confirmed even as of this post, when you listen closely, you can tell that Nas digitally altered his voice in one of the more pointless things he's ever done. It interrupts what started out as a cool track with a throwback vibe.
*2 out of 5*


8. Live Now

Oh man, this apply titled song would've been better without the beat switch in the middle of the song and, uh, the verse from "Scarlett". Honestly, "her" verse isn't bad, but seriously, Nas is the LAST MC who needs to alter his voice. Let's move on.
*3 out of 5*


9. Rest Of My Life

Nas and Amerie had very good chemistry, and it shows here much like "Rule" from "Stillmatic". Nice song.
*4 out of 5*


10. Just A Moment



From those whose lives were lost to those struggling with life's situations, Nas and Quan ask for a moment for everyone on this excellent song, arguably the best song on disc 1.
*5 out of 5*


11. Reason

We often ask ourselves what's the reason behind most things. We get some of those questions from Nas and guest Emily.
*4 out of 5*


*12. You Know My Style

I'm still not sure why this was listed as a "bonus track" (we'll see this again on disc 2), but be that as it may, I believe this was the second single released from the album. Salaam Remi's update of Run-DMC's classic "Jam Master Jay" works perfectly with Nas riding the beat nicely.
*4 out of 5*



DISC 2


1. Suicide Bounce

This Busta Rhymes featured song was all over the place and not a good way to start the second disc. Let's see, "suicide bounce", are they suggesting we bounce to the beat until we figuratively die? You tell me, lol.
*2.5 out of 5*


2. Street's Disciple

I really like this one. Nas again rides another Salaam Remi track nicely. Speaking of nice, we get the first of three appearances by Nas' father Olu Dara, which were NOT out of place. It almost seems like Mr. Dara is confirming Nas' vision, like he knew Nas had this in him from the start.
*5 out of 5*


3. U.B.R. (Unauthorized Biography of Rakim)

From the bio to the Nas produced track, I commend his efforts here, however, this falls a little short. It certainly would take a little longer to do a lyrical bio on the legendary Rakim. Even Rakim wasn't too impressed, mostly because Nas didn't reach out to him personally prior to making this. At the end, Nas says, "next book, KRS-One" and as of this post, we never received it and that's likely due to the reception of "U.B.R."
*3 out of 5*


4. Virgo

Yes, Nas and guests Ludacris and Doug E. Fresh all share the same zodiac sign. They represent it well on this song with its highly entertaining, throwback vibe, complete with the beatbox. (This song was also included on Luda's "Red Light District" album, which came out one week after this album.)
*4 out of 5*


5. Remember The Times (Intro)
In a funny skit, Nas and Kelis have an interesting conversation (also confirming their relationship in the process), as she asks him, before they get married, would he sleep with any woman from his past if she okayed it. He initially says no ("all them bitches", says Kelis, lol), then begins to ponder it, leading into.....


6. Remember The Times

And of course, Nas goes back in time to reminisce about past sex partners, basically did a little bit of everything, lol. In the end, he answers Kelis' initial question I feel.
*3 out of 5*


7. The Makings of a Perfect Bitch

Although Nas puts his own touch on this subject, once you've heard a song like this, you've heard them all.
*3 out of 5*


8. Getting Married

"Say hello to the man, goodbye to the gigilo"


Take a look at the well thought out sequencing here. Starting with reliving back in the day activities on "Remember The Times", the middle portion (song #7) and this song being the conclusion. I also liked how he talked about picturing his eventual wedding in a nice touch. He makes it clear at the end that he's not talking about hip hop.
*4 out of 5*


9. No One Else In The Room

This song is not bad at all, but after the previous three songs, it certainly was an unnecessary addition to the album.
*2 out of 5*


10. Bridging The Gap



Oh man, I loved this one when I first heard it and I still feel the same today. This had to have been hip hop's first ever father and son collaboration and it delivered in spades. I remember when they performed this on the VH1 Hip Hop Honors show in 2004 and it was one of the best performances I had seen in years.
*5 out of 5*


11. War

Nas talks about the issues and frustrations facing him prior to and after the birth of his daughter Destiny.
*4 out of 5*


12. Me & You (Dedication to Destiny)

Even with Nas' singing, this was a nice tribute to his daughter, even though it's somewhat on the brief side.
*4 out of 5*


*13. Thief's Theme



When I first heard this, I went crazy! Nas brings it on this DOPE track, so dope that he had to sample it a second time, which will be covered on the next album. (This was also listed as a "bonus track".)
*5 out of 5*



This is an excellent album, something I've said since its release. As a double album, even I'll admit that a couple of songs could've either been shortened or not included at all, but other than that, everything else makes this a quality effort from Nas. Considering hip hop's ever changing climate (which will be covered on the next album, "Hip Hop Is Dead"), this album made almost no noise at the time, which is/was sad, as it was one of 2004's best albums. Overall, does it justify its length? Yes indeed!


4 stars


Success

*it debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 chart, moving 232,000 units in its first week

*certified Platinum             




 

   
Release date- December 15, 2006


After the somewhat lukewarm response to "Street's Disciple", Nas took a year off before returning with another highly anticipated album in the form of "Hip Hop Is Dead". Before we get to that, I want to touch on a few things. In addition to marrying Kelis in 2005, that same year, another monumental event took place.





Yes indeed!!!!! Surprisingly enough, I heard nothing about Nas and Jay ending their beef. In what initially was supposed to be a concert in which Jay would call out all (hip hop) enemies, titled "I Declare War", the hip hop world was shocked when Jay invited Nas on stage, and they performed rendition's of "Dead Presidents" and "The World Is Yours", respectively. This was one of hip hop's last truly great moments and it effectively ended their long standing rivalry. "It showed that two grown men can argue without killing each other", Nas later said when speaking on this, and he was right. The next question I had was "when is the collabo coming??!!" This question would be answered (and then some) on this album, and trust me that WILL be covered. Speaking of the album, that brings me to its title, which was controversial to some. Biased or not, I always agreed with Nas' stance on hip hop at the time. Based on the music controlling airwaves in 2006 going into 2007, hip hop was seemingly, figuratively dead and heading towards a steep decline, not to mention the dreaded "ring tone era", smh. If Nas' intent was to get people talking, it worked, solely not to spike his album sales, but to make fans and critics aware of the state of hip hop. Some artists took this personal, namely Southern artists (which didn't surprise me one bit). As far back as 2004, the South became the dominant region in hip hop, and whether anyone wants to admit it or not, that region has produced some of the most God awful, ridiculous, nonsensical music in hip hop's long, storied history. As of this post, the South still maintains that dominance seemingly with no end in sight. "Hip hop is dead" was Nas' supreme statement to show that the very heart and soul of hip hop was here to stay, and that would seem a little contradictory due to the album title. As a sidenote, I also bought this on the first day it came out, along with Jay's "Kingdom Come".



Featured Guests
will.i.am
Jay-Z
Kelis
Kanye West
Chrisette Michele
Tre Williams
Snoop Dogg
The Game
Marsha Ambrosius



Behind The Boards 
             Nas              
L.E.S.
Wyldfyer
Al West
Scott Storch
Salaam Remi
will.i.am
Stargate
Kanye West
Mark Batson
Chris Webber
Devo Springsteen
Paul Cho
Dr. Dre
Alexander "Spanador" Mosley



THE ALBUM


1. Money Over Bullshit

"Afraid not of none of you cowards but of my own strength"


Although a topic like this had already been covered to death in hip hop, Nas puts a different touch on it as only he can. While the first verse was good, he simply goes in on the second and third verses, coming off more inspired than he had in quite some time. Dope opener.
*5 out of 5*


2. You Can't Kill Me

"It was just cool like, smooth night wit my jewels bright/Goons left, goons right, coupe wit blue lights/Bad girls in black pearls, gave us cat calls/Took em back to the crib to break they ass off"

"The son of a Capricorn, my dad's a don/What you think that he spawned a slacker, nah/Packed the nines, yo this nigga's asinine/Smack ya mom, relaxed and calm, then mack ya mom!"


Good God, those lines above does this TIGHT song no justice. Nas is aggressive and gangsta all at the same time (check the title) and again, I don't know what it was when it came to the second verse, but on this he kills it again.
*5 out of 5*


3. Carry On Tradition

Nas promises to carry on tradition in the face of all opposers, and I understand why. I really like this song, especially with ANOTHER notable second verse. He not only confirms the lukewarm reception to "Street's Disciple" ("still came 5 on the charts wit zero audience"), he also angrily calls out emerging artists at the time, justifiably so, telling veteran MCs to step aside, while at the same time dropping wack shit. In my Nas voice, "what?!" If more MCs did this today, I bet we would see a change in quality.
*5 out of 5*


4. Where Are They Now

Nas name drops a good number of artists who were relevant in hip hop at one time, asking an all too familiar question, "where are they now". What I'm also going to do is mention each artist he named and talk about what they were up to in 06 and today. (Mad credit to Wikipedia for most of these.)


*Redhead Kingpin: MIA in 06 and today

*Tim Dog: in 06, released his 5th solo album "BX Warrior"/14- as of May 2013, he was under investigation for faking his death to avoid grand larceny charges


*Kwame: 06-present: produced songs (as K-1 Million or K1 Mil) for artists such as Lloyd Banks, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige, Keyshia Cole and Missy Elliott

*King Tee: 06- released the "Boss Up: Volume 1" mixtape/14- plans to release a final album

*King Sun: MIA

*Super Lover Cee and Casanova Rud: MIA

*Antoinette: MIA

*Rob Base: 06- no activity/14- last performed with C&C Music Factory, currently a newscaster

*Black Sheep: 06- Dres released a solo album titled "8WM/Novakane", slightly active at this time

*Group Home: 06-present, Lil Dap is on the independent scene, released "I.A.Dap" in 2008, Melachi the Nutcracker has been MIA

*Busy Bee: best known for one of hip hop's first battles with Kool Moe Dee in December 1981 at Harlem World in Manhattan, NY, collaborated with KRS-One and Marley Marl in 07 and 08

*Ill & Al Scratch: best known for the classics "Where My Homiez" and "I'll Take Her"; as of 2012, they started releasing new material under Brooklyn/Uptown Connection"

*Special Ed: released "Still Got It Made" in 04, his 4th solo album

*Spice 1: released his 12th and 13th albums, "Hallowpoint" and "Home Street Home", in 2010 and 2013

*Positive K: after 1992's "I Got A Man", that was pretty much it for him, not sure if he's ever released "Back to the Old School", which was slated for a 2008 release

*Father MC: now goes by Fambody

*The Skinny Boys: relatively MIA since their 3rd album "Skinny (They Can't Get Enough) in 88

*the original Spinderella (DJ Latoya Hanson)- MIA

*Lakim Shabazz: makes occasional appearances at 5 Percenter Show & Prove events

*Fu-Schnickens- MIA since 94

*Buckshot (Black Moon): 06- released "The Last Stand" as part of the Boot Camp Clik, since then released albums with KRS-One in 08 and three albums with 9th Wonder (05, 08 & 2012), currently runs Duck Down Management with Dru-Ha

* Rappin Duke: MIA

*Oaktown's 357- disbanded in 92, MIA since

*J.J. Fad- reunited in 09, currently touring

*Young MC: released his 7th and 8th albums, "Adrenaline Flow" in 07 and "Relentless" in 09

*Tone Loc: collapsed on stage performing in San Francisco on 12/6/13, have heard nothing about his status since

*Kris Kross: reunited in 2013 for So So Def's 20th Anniversary concert, Chris Kelly passed away on 5/1/13

*Boss: released "The Six Million Dollar Mixtape" in 2004

*Devine Styler: MIA outside of a few collaborations

*Def Jef: produced them songs for TV shows "That's So Raven" and "The Game"

*Mic Geronimo: appeared on Large Professor's "Professor @ Large" in 2012

*Pharcyde: released "Still Got Love (Bizarre Tribe Megamix) in 2012

*Coolio: released 3 albums (total of 7), "The Return of the Gangsta" in 06, "Steal Hear" in 08 and "From the Bottom 2 the Top" in 09

*Craig Mack: outside of a few interviews, he's been MIA since G Dep's "Special Delivery" remix in 2001

*Funky Four Plus One: MIA

*Force MDs: three of the original members passed away (Charles "Mercury" Nelson in 95 from a heart attack, Antoine Lundy in 98 from Lou Gehrig's disease and DJ Dr. Rock in 99, whose cause of death is still unknown); newly formed crew appeared on the Mo'Nique Show in April 2010

*Miss Melody: passed away on 7/17/12, cause of death not revealed publicly

*UTFO (Educated Rapper, Doctor Ice and Kangol Kid): runs an internet radio show with Mixmaster Ice on www.mixmasterice.com, still active 

*Roxanne Shante: active mostly on Twitter

*EPMD: released their 7th album "We Mean Business" in 08, continues to tour

*K-Solo- MIA


This song overall is a 4 out of 5.


5. Hip Hop Is Dead



"Everybody sound the same, commercialized the game/Reminiscin when it wasn't all business"

Nas felt the "Thief's Theme" beat was so dope he "had to flip it again". No problem with that, as he got Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am to add a different twist to it. Well, this dope song is apply titled and the line above, in addition to my opening words, sums it up well.
 *5 out of 5*


6. Who Killed It?

Apparently Nas didn't learn anything from digitally altering his voice on the last album, lol. While I get the idea of this song, it really could've been left on the cutting room floor.
*1.5 out of 5*


7. Black Republican

"I know you can feel the magic baby!" -Jay-Z


Loyal reader, I kid you not, I was greatly, legitimately surprised when I saw Jay-Z was on this song, and I honestly didn't know until I opened the album insert! Remember when I said I asked "when will we get the collabo"? That question was finally answered with THIS! In that regard, one of my "hip hop dreams" were fulfilled! This is the collabo that I've waited years for and it was not a disappointment! To this very day, when I play this song, I smile from beginning to end with my head bobbin!
*5 out of 5*


8. Not Going Back

I really like this one. Saying this is apply titled isn't enough, lol. Nas all but says he's not going back to the way he used to be, all about looking ahead to the future (and focusing on the now). I even liked how he denounced "bling" and the way he flaunted his materialistic possessions at the height of his career. Now how many artists in hip hop have made similar statements since then?
*5 out of 5*


9. Still Dreaming

This Kanye West and Chrisette Michele assisted song is very good. In the pursuit of success, some are still dreaming, keeping it alive whatever way they can. GOOD stuff, especially the chemistry between Nas and Kanye
*5 out of 5


10. Hold Down The Block

2 songs ago, Nas made a statement saying he was not going back. That same mentality blends well into this song. You can definitely count on someone like Nas to hold things down through thick and thin.
*5 out of 5*


11. Blunt Ashes

While having a "fat one" in hand, lol, Nas is relaxing while talking mostly about the untimely deaths and injustices that befell a respectable list of musicians and entertainers.
*4 out of 5*


12. Let There Be Light

 "Nas is the ghetto American Idol/No matter what you do you never gettin my title"


Listening to this again, I got the vibe that Nas was giving two points of view on this one: 1) shining a verbal light on issues in his own poetic way, and 2) still holding the title of "God MC", hence the title of the song.
*5 out of 5*


13. Play On Playa

While this first ever collabo with Nas and Snoop was damn good, I kept thinking about how awesome a collabo with them in 1994, on a Dr. Dre track, would've been. Interesting thought right there.
*4 out of 5*


14. Can't Forget About You



 This will.i.am produced banger, which finds Nas so full of nostalgia (which I can relate to) and holding on to the memories of the years gone by, is tremendous. Ms. Chrisette Michele did a nice job on the hook as well.
*5 out of 5*


15. Hustlers

Not only is this Nas' first collabo with The Game, but this was the first time Nas worked with Dr. Dre since 1997. Much like the song with Snoop, this is damn good as well. Say what you want about West Coast hip hop at the time, but Nas managed to get Snoop and Game on the same album at a time when they were very inspired. Marsha Ambrosius did a good job on the hook too.
*5 out of 5*


16. Hope

"Ain't got nothin to do wit old school, new school, Dirty South, West Coast, East Coast. This is about us, this our thing, know what I'm sayin? This came from the gut, from the blood, from the soul". 


Ms. Chrisette Michele shows up again as Nas delivers a verse, acapella style. Even with his declaration that hip hop was dead, he still had hope for the survival of the culture. This would've been a fine closer, but we're not done yet!
*4 out of 5*


*17. Where Y'll At (Best Buy Exclusive bonus track)

For those who bought this album on the day of its release like I did, or a few days later, we were treated with this gem. Nas goes in on this one, simply because he can. WHY this was a bonus track when it EASILY could've been in the place of "Who Killed It"? is beyond me.
*5 out of 5*          



Hands down, this was the best album of 2006, and if you disagree, I challenge you to tell me a better album. Proclaiming that "hip hop is dead" was controversial at the time, Nas set out to make a statement, all the while saying it lives through him. Whether it was for additional publicity or not, it's still a matter of debate, but it got people talking. The album was nominated for a Grammy award for "Best Rap Album" in 2007, but it didn't unfortunately, losing out to Kanye's "Graduation". With a continued inspired Nas, dope production and guest appearances (YAY "Black Republican", lol), this album was a true winner! Great job.


5 stars


Success

*debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, moving 355,880 units in its first week (his 4th number one album); has sold over 764,000 units to date





  

After 2006's "Hip Hop Is Dead", anticipation for Nas' next album was in full swing, especially for your's truly. But before we get to the album, I gotta go into a little bit of history leading into it. Nas got the people talking once again in terms of the album title, and again, whether it was positive or negative depends on your perspective.Originally, Nas wanted to name the album "Nigger". Let that sink in for a moment. Now, I honestly wasn't offended, but even with my loyal, long time support for Nas, the first thought that came to my mind was there's no way any major retailers would place this on their shelves. And not surprisingly, that's kinda what happened. Major retailers like Wal-Mart and Target would've refused to carry the album. Considering the pressure and how tight it got, Nas just simply named it "Untitled". Reaction was split to say the very least. Some sided with Nas (citing freedom of speech), others sharply criticized him (claiming an attempt to boost sales and publicity). Did all of this work like it did in 06? We shall see, but before we get there, a small story if I may.

I bought this album on the day of its release (July 15, 2008), and my son Jaheim, who was pushing 2 at the time, was with me. After I made the purchase from my local Best Buy, along with his "Greatest Hits" compilation, we were riding that entire day with this in the CD player, taking care of business! I'll save my immediate thoughts for the conclusion of the album.



Featured Guests
Eban Brown (The Stylistics)
The Last Poets
The Game 
Chris Brown
Keri Hilson
Busta Rhymes
Mykel


Behind The Boards
Jay Electronica
Salaam Remi
Dustin Moore
J. Myers
Cool & Dre
The Game
Polow da Don
Stargate
stic.man
Mark Batson
DJ Toomp
Mark Ronson
Eric Hudson
DJ Green Lantern



THE ALBUM


1. Queens Get The Money

This was a nice way to begin the album, always showing love to Queens. One notable thing he said was "bring back Arsenio", and on September 9, 2013, "The Arsenio Hall Show" returned to late night television.
*4 out of 5*


2. You Can't Stop Us Now

"No matter how hard you try, you can't stop us now"


Without trying to sound too biased here, Nas makes a damn good point in that the African American race can't be stopped, and our movement, if you will, continues. I would've liked for this one to have been a little longer, but as it stands it's a very good song.
*4 out of 5*


3. Breathe

"..... we soldiers, we just gettin older/In time, we still in our prime, I can't afford a new arrest on my folder"

"Stress, ain't good man, you gotta breathe"


This is my favorite song on the album, another fast paced one. The second line above sums this up perfectly.
*5 out of 5*


4. Make The World Go Round

Even excellent artists like Nas are entitled to one song embracing the success life can bring, and with The Game and Chris Brown along for the ride, this was an apply titled winner.
*4 out of 5*


5. Hero



"Can't leave it, the game needs him, plus the people need someone to believe in"


Oh man, even with a subject like this, it's still a banger. In 08 and now, Nas can be considered one of the few heros in hip hop. I also like Keri Hilson and she was a very good choice for the hook. In addition, in mid-late 2008, I decided to watch the BET Awards SOLELY for Nas' performance (even at that time, I refused to watch any award show, which is another story). In my opinion, he put his heart and soul into that performance, however, either the crowd was listening to every word closely or they clearly weren't interested, and considering the direction hip hop was headed in, I feel it was the latter, sadly. Either way, excellent song.
*5 out of 5*


6. America

"This is not what you think it is"


Although this is something Nas has covered before, he still comes off as intelligent and informed, which will also come into play on the next song.
*4 out of 5*


7. Sly Fox

"It's sly fox, cyclops, we locked in an idiot box/The video slots broadcasting Waco Davidian plots/They own YouTube, My Space, when this ignorant shit gon stop?"


"The Fear Factor got you all riled up/O'Reilly, oh really, no rally needed I'll tie you up"

"They say I'm all about murder murder and kill kill/But what about Grindhouse and Kill Bill/What about Cheney and Halliburton/The back door deals on oil fields, how's Nas the most violent person"

"I use Viacom as my firearm/Then let the living split you, who do you rely upon/Then shoot shells at Leviath-o-n, I'm dealin wit the higher form/Fuck if you care how I write a poem"


Watch what you watching indeed. If you're aware of the Fox News Channel, one of their promotional lines was "Fair & Balanced", and this is/was anything but. Nas calls out the network (as well as others) for the propaganda that graced our TVs at the time and the manipulation of the information that came with it, brilliantly told. And although I'm aware of the Waco siege and the real existence of Halliburton, I'll keep my political views out of this project.
*5 out of 5*


8. Testify

One word to describe this song is different, which finds Nas asking if you would ride with him even though he's testifying, in sort of a question form.
*3 out of 5*


9. N.I.**.E.R. (The Slave And The Master)

"On the road to the riches and diamond rings/In the land of the blind the man wit one eye is the king"


Wow. I certainly don't mean to be brief with my analysis of this song, but Nas' words are so powerful here. Must be heard to be appreciated.
*5 out of 5*


10. Untitled

This is pretty brilliant. Nas is not coming from the "nigger" point of view, if you will, but damned if he doesn't show that we know a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and people of color are more intelligent than we're given credit for.
*5 out of 5*


11. Fried Chicken

"Mrs. Fried chicken, you gon be a nigga death"


This Busta Rhymes assisted concept song is excellent, talking about the pros and cons of fried chicken. Nas and Busta bring both humor and a serious vibe to a highly creative song. And speaking of creative concepts, that brings us to.....
*5 out of 5*


12. Project Roach

If roaches could hear, they would LOVE this brief song, lol. Nas comes from the perspective of a roach (imagine that) and much like the previous song, it must be heard to be appreciated.
*4.5 out of 5*


13. Y'all My Niggas

"So what if my pants sag wit my hat turned back/The same swag got our merchandise flyin off the rack(s)"


This is one of many lines that tell the story of this excellent song. We may be looked down upon the eyes of some, but just remember, it's the strong presence of hip hop that has spoke volumes to MANY all over the world.
*5 out of 5*


14. We're Not Alone

No matter what, we're all in this together.
*4 out of 5*


15. Black President

I understand the use of Pac's "though it seems heaven sent/we ain't ready to have a black President" line, but at the same time, Nas makes the case that no matter what was said about it up to that point, we as black people were ready for a black President, and on November 4, 2008, history was made when Barack Obama won the Presidency.
*4 out of 5*



After I played this album the first time, my exact words were "Nas is a genius". I said it twice that day. As usual, he delivered another excellent album, the best album of 2008, and it deserved to win the Grammy award that year for "Best Rap Album", but it unfortunately lost to Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III", smh. I also initially gave this album 5 stars, a rating that has held up since 7/15/08, until now. In a RARE occurrence, I'm changing the rating of a Nas album, in this case from a 5 to a respectable 4.5 stars overall. In an interview a few years back, Nas did say that he felt the album could've been better. I respect that, but he had nothing to be ashamed of. "At the end of the day, my true fans know the real title of this album", he said. True indeed.


4.5 stars


Success

*this was his 5th number one album to hit the Billboard 200 chart, certified Gold                             




  


  
Release date- July 13, 2012


(While it was a very good album, I decided not to review his "Distant Relatives" album with Damian Marley, as I wanted to focus solely on his solo material, respectively.)


Prior to its release, I REALLY anticipated this album, and before I begin with the (first ever) review to close this project, I do have another little story to share. It goes without saying that I pre-ordered the CD, via bestbuy.com, when it first became available to do so. When it was finally shipped, I anxiously checked its status every day. Its scheduled arrival date was 7/13/12. I got home from work and noticed the package wasn't in my mailbox. Around the 5:00pm hour, a little girl (daughter of my next door neighbor) came to my door with the package. "I'm sorry, this was in our mailbox", she said. I told her "thank you so much", breathed a sigh of relief, plus shook my head at the postman for placing it in the wrong mailbox. Trust me, I would NOT have been happy if this CD would've been lost, and thankfully it wasn't. I remember being VERY impressed when I first listened to this. Let's see if that's still the case today!


Featured Guests
Large Professor
Rick Ross
Mary J. Blige
Anthony Hamilton
Miguel 
Swizz Beatz
Victoria Monet
Amy Winehouse
Cocaine 80s


Behind The Boards
Nas
J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League
No I.D.
Salaam Remi
Rodney Jerkins  
DJ Hot Day
Swizz Beatz
Buckwild
Heavy D
Da Internz
Noah "40" Shelib
Al Shux
Dan Wilson
Boi-1-da
Matthew Burnett
Jordan Evans



THE ALBUM


1. No Introduction

"This how it sounds when you too real, they think it's just music still/Well I am a graphic classic song composer/Music notes on sheets, I wrote this piece"


This appropriately titled opener is excellent, the perfect way to begin the album. Over the course of 3 verses, Nas is already telling you what to expect on this album, even if he doesn't say it outright.
*4 out of 5*


2. Loco-Motive

"To keep winnin is my way like Francis/As long as I'm breathin I take chances"

"So much to write and say, yo I don't know where to start/So I'll begin with the basics and flow from the heart"

"I shouldn't even be smilin, I should be angry and depressed/I been rich longer than I been broke, I confess/I started out broke, got rich, lost paper then made it back/Like Trump bein up down up, play wit cash"


Nas lyrically just keeps going and going, hence the title of the song. Large Pro provides a dope track with a true throwback to the 90s vibe. Tight all around.
*5 out of 5*

"This for my trapped in the 90s niggas!"


3. A Queens Story

Although Nas has told this story many times over the years, it succeeds due to his commanding yet refined presence of the mic, a fresh yet nostalgic perspective. A borderline epic track.
*5 out of 5*


4. Accident Murderers

"Accident murderer, act like you killed on purpose
Liars brag, you put work in
You ain't mean to murk him, your gun's a virgin
Streets are full of them, read the bulletin
Accident murderer, you just an accident murderer"


That hook says it all in terms of this excellent song. It's no secret I'm not a Rick Ross fan, but he and Nas have such an amazing chemistry that it's downright scary sometimes. I'd also recommend checking out their other collaborations, they're just as good as this one.
*4 out of 5*


5. Daughters



"For my brothas wit daughters I call this/Not sayin that our sons are less important"

"The way mothers feel for they sons, how fathers feel for they daughters/When he date, he straight, chip off his own poppa/When she date, we wait behind the door wit a sawed off/Cause we think no one is good enough for our daughters"


I have a son (7 years old as of this post), but I understand Nas' point of view on this song, another excellent one. It's clear Nas loves his daughter, but he's struggling with the fact she's getting older, there's the growing influence of social media (which has its positives and negatives), plus he's understandably overprotective regarding the type of boy she decides to bring home. This song is going to remain relevant for years to come.
*5 out of 5*


6. Reach Out

I like the variety of throwback vibes on this one. Nas and guest Mary J. Blige created some nice collabos in the past, and while Ms. Blige is one of many veterans who still "have it", she tries a little too heard here and it affects the song just a bit.
*4 out of 5*


7. World's An Addiction

"It's betta to dead a beef than let it breathe/Then we don't succeed"

 "We all need faith cause the world keep changing"


In every aspect of our lives, there's some form of an addiction, which can be good and/or bad ways. A song like this would go over the heads of the average person, but if you take your time with it, you'll hear Nas' true meaning.
*4 out of 5*


8. Summer On Smash

I'll even admit that this song was a somewhat clear attempt at radio play, as well as an anthem for the summer. It didn't turn out that way in either case, but the song itself is not that bad at all. It may be the best Nas/Swizz collabo since "The General".
*3 out of 5*


9. You Wouldn't Understand

"You wouldn't last a day in my shoes homie!"


This of course is familiar territory, in the "you don't know or understand where I come from or where I've been" form. Nas' perspective throughout is a fresh one.
*4 out of 5*


10. Back When

One thing I found myself liking about Nas more and more over the years is his strong sense of nostalgia. He always does an exceptional job with songs talking about how things used to be, especially when it comes to growing up, plus being influenced by hip hop. A song like this would be a surefire "5 out of 5", but it was missing that 3rd verse, necessitating the "4 out of 5" rating", respectively.
*4 out of 5*


11. The Don



"It's the return of the prince, the boss". Those 2001 words apply to this 2012 fast paced banger, supplied by the late Heavy D. The reggae styled hook worked too.
*5 out of 5*


12. Stay

This soulful selection, in my view, was a perfect, contrasting lead in to the next song.
*4 out of 5*


13. Cherry Wine



The late Amy Winehouse BLESSES this hook and she was the right choice for it. One time when I played this, I almost cried because she was one of many talented artists who were taken too soon. The song itself is not the typical song for the ladies, in which Nas describes the type of woman that'll draw his interest at this point in his life.
*5 out of 5*


14. Bye Baby

"I guess you knew and blew a good thing, baby" -Aaron Hall


The dress that Nas is holding on the album cover is his ex-wife Kelis' wedding dress, and that in itself is worth 1,000 words or more. This is the most personal song that Nas had done in a long time, talking about the trials and tribulations in he and Kelis' failed marriage. Incorporating Guy's "Goodbye Love" for the hook worked like a charm.
*5 out of 5*


*15. Nasty



"..... I'm skinny but I'm too big for a Bentley"

"..... tell these clowns make room for the king nigga!"


This was the first of four bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, as well as the first single released to hype the album. Over a dope track provided by Salaam Remi, we get vintage Nas on this one.
*5 out of 5*


*16. The Black Bond

The black James Bond, I hear that. Nas comes off with just that on this fast paced banger.
*4 out of 5*


*17. Roses

Simply put, this came off as either the unofficial prequel to "Stay" or its sequel.
*4 out of 5*


        *18. Where's The Love

"This ain't the Truman Show, it's the human show"

"Younger generation, they want to mimic and mock us/Laughin, separatin themselves like they not us"


While seemingly all over the place at times, but still controlled, this is still a very good, apply titled song.
*4 out of 5*


*19. Trust (iTunes exclusive)

"It's rare I listen to niggas who never been in my position/A caterpillar can't relate to what an eagle envisions"

"They say the artist that truly suffers, his stuff is the best/Cause his heart bleed on his sleeve, pain pistols and sex"


Considering the ups and downs in Nas' personal and professional life, I can understand why he would have minor or major trust issues. We shall see where he stands on the next album.
*4 out of 5*



For starters, I'm honestly torn on the rating for this album. Since its release, I've always gave it a strong 4.5 star rating. Part of me wants to go the full monty (5 star rating), but the question I ask myself is do I need to give it more time and perspective considering it came out almost 2 years ago (as of this post)? Overall, this was yet another excellent album in Nas' discography, the best album of 2012. It was also more personal (and mature) than any of his previous albums, plus the production stood out almost as much as his lyrics did. "Life Is Good" was certainly a fitting title. As usual, a job well done.


4.5 stars


Success

*debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, moving 149,000 units in its first week, selling 354,000 units as of February 2013




And with that, the Ultimate Nas Project comes to a close. It goes without saying that I'm anticipating whatever he does next, and you can count on a review and a pre-order! I'll put this discography up against any artists' in terms of quality and consistency. Any feedback on this project is always welcome, and Nas, if you're reading this, let me know what you think!!!




Nas Rankings
 1. Illmatic
2. Stilmatic
3. Hip Hop Is Dead
4. The Lost Tapes
5. Life Is Good
6. I Am
7. God's Son
8. It Was Written
9. Untitled
10. Street's Disciple
11. Nastradamus

          (#8 and #9 may be changed)            

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