Surviving The Times: The Adaptation Of Nas Through The Eras

"First it was 'Nasty,' but times have changed..." and through all of those changing times, shiny suits to Neo-Afrocentrism, "Oochie Wally" to "Daughters," Nas has never lost fans' attention.

“Invincible, lyrical, miracle man... uh / But back to the matter at hand” - Nas, "Surviving The Times"

As Hip Hop fans, we frequently wax on the archetype of the uncompromising artist. We tune out in disgust when artists step out of the boxes we make for them. It’s hard for us to support experimentation and even harder to support commercialization. Above all else, when we smell bullshit coming through the speakers we let it be known.

When an artist tries to shoot the easy hit in the pool of shallow trends, we cry foul. We usually behave that way. Yet, for some reason, when it comes to Nas we don’t seem to.

He is not the holy grail of the uncompromising artist. There’s also more to it than that the high quality outweighing the low. It’s a scrappy togetherness that allows Nasir Jones to never be on schedule, but always be on time.

Nas’s sharpest skill as a rapper is story. His story — one of survival — has allowed him the ability to remain relevant enough to matter and the space to push the genre forward enough to be considered innovative. Irreplaceable, in fact. All the while he’s been able to constantly remind us and shield us from his flaws as an artist, a celebrity and a man.

It’s high time to figure out how he’s managed that magic trick.

The Illmatic Era (1992-1995)

"Then I rose, wiping the blunt's ash from my clothes / Then froze only to blow the herb smoke through my nose / And told my little man I'mma ghost, I rose / Left some jewels in his skull that he can sell if he chose / Words of wisdom from Nas try to rise up above / Keep an eye out for Jake, Shorty Wop, one love." - "One Love"

Nas released his 1994 debut album as a teenager. When he came out, he wore his own stripes. Adding on to the houses Rakim and Kool G Rap built, Nas was able to be buttery and choppy (“Represent”), witty and straightforward (“It Aint Hard To Tell”), hood and introspective (“N.Y. State of Mind”), empathetic and earnest (“Life’s A Bitch”), grandiose and humanistic (“The World Is Yours”) — and finally, original and narrative (“One Love”). Illmatic was an experiment. It tested Rap’s ability for complexity. It asked if Hip Hop was ready for complicated story telling, vivid descriptions and round characters.

It’s the most explicit example of artistic tunnel vision. Illmatic is unfiltered. Nas developed and executed creative lines independently of what else was happening outside of his immediate reality. This solo exploratory tendency would reappear in every album afterward. Later though, his attention invariably turned to what else was going on back on Planet Rap.

As much as all rappers would like to be doing their own thing, outside of a debut album, that’s almost an impossibility. Expectations mean a lot and the stakes are high to get there again, and again. Nas was no exception.

The Mafiaso Era (1995-1996)

“So many years of depression make me vision / The better living, type of place to raise kids in” - "If I Ruled The World"

The dark “Affirmative Action” was damn near Rap’s Godfather. It embraced what would become a rapidly manifesting Mafioso ethos that would Nas and his running mates would obsess over during The Firm album. He slipped and struggled trying to find a parter or two who didn’t drag him down and you get the sense that “Affirmative Action” may have been a mirage in that pursuit.

A reworking of British New Wave jam “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” sought to toss a Rap spin onto It Was Written. The fact thaat Marilyn Manson managed to cover the Eurythmics' hit a year prior on the other end of the music spectrum wasn’t a coincidence. If “Street Dreams” was a success than “If I Ruled The World” was just short of a masterstroke.

The song sustained the growing desire for the female-laden heartfelt hook between stanzas of New York grit. Above all else, “If I Ruled The World” boasted an unadulterated and exaggerated positivity and unapologetic optimism — a testament to the Hip Hop Nas grew up listening to. It was, without-a-doubt, Nas' biggest single until that point although his career then took a less-critically receptive turn.

Crew Love Era (1997-2001)

“So play the low, change your clothes, pack your bags / Watch what you say on this phone, get home fast” - "Phone Tap"

Nas chose his third full-length release to be a collaboration with The Firm. The Album’s single “Firm Biz” wanted to match Mafioso situations with a funk-flash hook from diva Dawn Robinson (En Vogue). It went wildly awry. To remedy the situation, Foxy Brown just covered her naked body in money and they paid Joe Pesci for a cameo in the video.  It just all sounded fugazi. The jig was up before The Firm really got a handle on any real estate. 

Nas had helped establish the trend of the a cool, collected mobster character and now he was helping it disintegrate. The quiet, recluse G died and the obtuse, tasteless dealer era began.

Of the seven Dr. Dre-produced songs on the album “Phone Tap” did exceed expectations.Cats stayed schemin’. Had the original Firm track, “Affirmative Action” not been so unbelievably dope, an entire album probably wouldn’t have ever seen the light of day. It wouldn’t be the last time Nas would squeeze a single into a collaborative album, as we see later with “Road To Zion.” It would spell the end of The Firm, but not the end of Nas’s early career slump.

Changing Lanes (1998-2001)

“First it was 'Nasty,' but times have changed / Ask me now, I’m 'The Artist'” - "Nas Is Like"

Nas stumbled into 1999 after a disastrous foray into film, a weak collaborative album, and his Mafioso persona dangling by a thread. Releasing I Am...’s lead single “Hate Me Now” did a number of things, exonerating some of his problems and compounding others.

Teaming up with Diddy (t/k/a Puff Daddy) in general was a move that ran both in line and in contrast to where the mainstream was. Nas was less criticized for flowing for the street and more for his dress code. Nas played Jesus in a Hype Williams directed video. Flashy suits were worn, things blew up, and Bill Gate dreams were had.

If it weren’t for a DJ Premier-produced self-indulgent track, maybe he would have spun out of control. “Nas Is Like” reminded Nas himself of himself. It picked up where “It Aint Hard To Tell” left off half-a-decade earlier. It paid almost no attention to what people wanted to hear.

Some of the I Am... songs speak to less to the struggle to build the right single and more to an artist who’s unwilling or unable to change enough to create with artists that are drastically different from him.

“I make hits now, money I flip now / Hood fella every honey wanna kiss now” - "You Owe Me"

By far the snazziest tool at an artists disposal at the end of the '90s was having their own record label. It’s at best providing the artists a treehouse in the backyard, where they are free to play without causing wreaking too much havoc. Nastradamus was the first release under the imprint bone Columbia Records threw to Nas: Ill Will Records.

Ginuwine was the next artist Nas (or Columbia or Nas & Columbia) enlisted in search of a smash. The mustached R&B maestro was in the heat of his career. Nas may never sound right over a Timbaland beat. On the album’s title track Nas slides his vocal scale up a few notches and takes a stab at singing for one of the only times during his career. He considers the “Nasty Nas to Esco to Escobar to Nastradaums” evolution over L.E.S.’s sample snagged from The James Brown Band’s “Monaurail” jam.

As “Project Windows” describes, Nas sounds uninspired and tired throughout the album. It was, without a doubt, his career low-point. He had nowhere to go but up at the turn of the century — either by following the mainstream or by his own, goddamned, astronaut self.

“This music mogul rollin wit a hundred soldiers / Gangstas we postal” - "Da Bridge 2001"

For his next foray into super-group land, Nas enlisted some of his homies, Wiz, Horse, his cousin Nashawn and his little brother Jungle. Unsurprisingly, they were far less talented than AZ, Foxy Brown and even Nature (let alone Cormega). It was entourage Rap like entourage Rap had never been done before.

The commercial culmination of QB’s Finest was “Oochie Walley.” It was what "Big Pimpin’" would have been if it took place in a Moroccan Motel 6. Nas began by biting the most bitten Snoop Dogg line ever to set off one of the worst attempts at a club banger by any established artist. The Bravehearts pack lines with enough lazily described raunch to send even the wettest broad home bone-dry. At one point Jungle insists he’s gonna, “Hit her where she doo-dee at.”

There was a low-key moment of Hip Hop history on the album’s second track “Da Bridge 2001.” As much of a career rut as he currently found himself, he still commanded a great deal of respect both from and for forebears of Queensbridge Hip Hop.

Jay-Z wasn’t the only one scratching his head. Is it "Oochie Wally" or is it "Da Bridge"? Could it be both?

The Emcee Renaissance (2001-2002)

“I crawled up out of that grave, wipin’ the dirt, cleanin’ my shirt / They thought I'd make another Illmatic / But it's always forward I'm movin’ / Never backwards stupid here's another classic” - "Stillmatic Intro"

2001's Stillmatic wasn’t better than Illmatic but possibly more important.

Someone made the wise decision to leave Nas’s last gasp Braveheart-crew-cut-hail-mary out of the playbook for Stillmatic. The song, “Braveheart Party” and featured Mary J. Blige and everyone brought their worst to a Swizz Beatz production that’s mostly disappeared from existence since. Stillmatic’s success owes something to this omission.

Three songs define Stillmatic. Each propelled him back from the depths of irrelevancy by different means. “Got Ur Self A...” employed The Sopranos theme sample at the peak of the HBO series’s popularity. Nas flipped it as the rallying cry for his return. “One Mic” saw Nas as his introspective best with a sincerity and passion only the best rappers can muster once or twice in their career.

“Ether,” regardless of who’s side you were on, changed so much of what battling was that it became a verb. You can’t go against the grain more than personally attacking the game’s most popular emcee. Nas did more than just ether Jay. He ethered himself, his past, his mistakes.

How Illmatic could he still be? It was a battle against his lesser self. His better half won, when it mattered most.

“Fuck it. it's just an intro / Hate it or love it, like it bump it or dump it / Writing, across the stomach spell God son” - "Purple"

The release of The Lost Tapes saw Nas gain traction with fans more concerned with his storytelling and less with his hit at-bats. It’s rare to see tracks with the smooth-movements of “Purple” and screenplay-worthy, clip-dumping, knife-swinging, glass-shattering gangster-gothic feature film that is “Blaze A 50,” considered unfit for a major Rap album. It’s true collection of B-Sides that fit conceptually well together only in that, they fit nowhere else.

"Illmatic, I was boss, It Was Written, I flossed / One of the most creative LPs ever to hit stores / In the Firm I learned I Am Nastradamus / QB's Finest, "Oochie Wally," faced more problems / I gave it all up so I can chill at home with mama / She was getting old and sick so I stayed beside her / We had the best times, she asked would I make more songs / I told her not til I see her health get more strong - "Last Real Nigga Alive"

The second album of his career restart functioned a lot like It Was Written did for Illmatic, more subtle continuations and less leaps. “Made You Look” built off of “Got Ur Self A...,” “I Can” turned the “One Mic” knob a little toward the corny by way of staple Nas good intention. “Last Real Nigga Alive” was the “Ether” victory lap.

“Thugz Mansion” turned 2Pac acoustic and along with “Dance” slowed Nas down to look at the gap between his adolescence and his adulthood. “Book Of Rhymes” was the beast added to the “I Gave You Power,” “Rewind” creativity corral. “Zone Out” was the last episode of the Braveheart duds. He handed his homies the keys to the Ill Will Records treehouse where they put together Bravehearts in 2003 and Breavehearted 2 in 2008, with minimal Nas appearances.

Eminem, Kelis and Beethoven were all also involved. God’s Son came a time when Hip Hop itself had rounded a corner of acceptability in mainstream America. Nas felt safe to take risks again.

Gestalt Theory (2003-2005)

“I'm dreaming of a time I was silked out at the peak of my career / But I always choked out, leaving mad money on the table at crazy amounts / I would hit the scene for a second and bounce” - "Live Now"

During his double album Nas kept his mainstream desires at bay. Instead he took chances with a fabricated female persona (“Sekou Story”/“Live Now”), a single with his father (“Bridging The Gap”), and an entire biography of one of his influences (“Unauthorized Biography Of Rakim”). There was no prior evidence that any of these approaches would find a way to work the charts.

Few, if any rappers dedicated an entire song to their wife (“Getting Married”). Stranger still was that it followed songs boasting astrologic women snagging Ludacris in tow (“Virgo”), STD-laden sex tales (“Remember The Times”), and a psychotic search for the perfect sexual companion (“The Makings Of A Perfect Bitch”). Finally, “Me & You” was a sincere number dedicated to his daughter. This embrace of his personal life would reach full fruition in 2012.

Post-50 Cent New York City wasn’t exactly oozing with songs like the gutter-gluttonous "Thief's Theme" either. The goal was to get thugs to the club not make them proud to be on the streets. Nas didn’t really seem to care. He was back doing his Hip Hop his way. Then he realized that Rap had changed.

Statement Albums & Concept Rap (2006-Present)

“I had off-time, was bored wit this / I coulda made my double LP, just by samplin' different parts of 'Nautilus' / Still came five on the charts with zero audience / The lane was open and y'all was droppin' that garbage shit” - "Carry On Tradition"

After doing whateverthefuck he wanted during his double album, still managing to go platinum, but not seeing the critical reception he probably wanted, Nas realized he needed to find a better balance. He did tossed subtlety to the side. 

Nas recorded Hip-Hop Is Dead with will.i.am’s help. Will was having a hell-of-go alongside Fergie at the time and tweaked the same Incredible Bongo Band "Apache" sample used in "Thiefs Theme." Nas cut will’s over-produced-pop touch with a the thoughts of a vigilante Hip Hop missionary.

What could worse for your spins than a song about murdering radio deejays?

Positing at the podium to either literally or symbolically morn Hip Hop’s lifespan coming to an end, Nas schemingly investigated ("Who Killed It?"), reminisced ("Can’t Forget About You"), romanticized ("Hustlers"), ignored ("Still Dreaming"), repaired ("Black Republican") and prayed for ("Hope") his first-wifey during the album.

Nas did benefit from was the controversy his declaration unearthed. He would continue this dash towards controversy during all of his subsequent releases. Nothing smells as sweet as well-oiled controversy.

“So Untitled it is, I never change nothin' but people remember this / If Nas can't say it, think about these talented kids / With new ideas being told what they can and can't spit / I can't sit and watch it, so shit, I'ma drop it” - "Hero"

Nas chose to push the controversial envelope further. He made headlines when his tentative title for his ninth studio album leaked. He wanted to call it Nigger. It came out untitled.

On the album, Nas facilitated the conversation around contemporary American Blackness. The 2008 release coincided with the most publicized election in American history. Wearing white tees, blue jeans and red bandanas, he recorded provocative tracks including an onslaught on a news organization (“Sly Fox”), an extended culinary metaphor (“Fried Chicken”), an extended insect metaphor (“Project Roach”) and a song about the use of the most charged word in the English language (“Y’all My Ni**as”). Again, the norm would have been only a line or two by another rapper. Nas turned these concepts into whole songs.

Two of three “Hero” verses and “Make The World Go Round” reached for the charts. Polow Da Don, Cool & Dre, Mark Ronson, Chris Brown, Game, and an island video shoot were all aids in the commercial pursuit, where only stic.man and The Last Poets held down the album’s politically-infused content.

After such a fierce meditation on America, it was only logical that Nas got the hell out.

“The slums, diseases, AIDS / We need that all to fade, we cannot be afraid / So who are we today? / We are the morning after, the makeshift youth / The slaveship captured, our diaspora is the final chapter” - "Africa Must Wake Up"

An Obama-led Neo-Afrocentrism led Nas to investigate the Africa to an extend he hadn’t before. Distant Relatives is an extended assessment of the process of tracing African ancestry and exploring the world’s forgotten continent. Reggae and Hip Hop were equally used alongside samples of African music. Content wise Africa is a petri-dish of controversy. Nas and Damian Marley put various lyrical beakers to use.

From the first guitar strum, we all knew “My Generation” was a bad idea. Something of an “I Can” part two, where little Lil Wayne plays man in the mirror. Wayne was on top of the music world in 2010, but it wasn’t enough. “Africa Must Wake Up” and “Tribes At War” (with Somalian-born K’Naan) went over better. These and darker tracks like “Dispear,” “Patience,” and “Friends” did more to accomplish the same ambition goal of African and African-American empowerment.

On the back of the Obama victory and the world’s attention towards the continent with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Distant Relatives was timed perfectly. The most unique and ambitious of all the Nas projects, it was clunky at times but got him to Africa and back intact.

“The noise in my head / The curse of the talented / Strong communicator, vagabond / I’d gallivant around the equator / If that would get me off the radar” - "Cherry Wine"

 By the time his focused returned home, things in his personal life had exploded. His marriage had disintegrated. He had tax problems. He had a bizarre African concert fiasco that involved a mini-hostage situation.

“Daughters,” “Bye Baby,” “Reach Out,” “No Introduction,” and “Cherry Wine” were all peeks into the peaks of his personal problems. Celebrity cultural obsessions and social media storms have reached beyond critical mass in 2012. Nas does a gossip number on himself with a humility that managed to keep his humanity in tact.

He’d thematically gone from killing a genre, beating the N-word to a pulp, and reversing the Trans-Atlantic slave trade to talking completely about his more TMZ-ready sides.

“Summer On Smash” was the latest crack at a Swizzy beated party jam, again without working out. The islandy, Heavy D graced “The Don” condoned codeine, opposing the direction the industry is leaning. Songs like the sultry, summer night “Stay”  and the spaded pace of “World’s An Addiction” dig into an emotional width Nas needs.

Life Is Good wore his emotions on his history’s sleeve, inside his anxieties, beside his accolades and right smack on his album cover.

“A project minded individual, criminal tactic / Us black kids born with birth defects, we hyperactive / Mentally sex-crazed, dysfunctional they describe us / They liars, at the end of the day, we fuckin survivors” -  "Triple Beam Dreams"

Nas is a man of many minds. Mafioso, music mogul, activist, Afrocentrist, crook, sex fiend, lover, divorcee, father, teacher, homie, historian, religious devotee, connoisseur, narrator, poet, and most of all, a storyteller. Mangling those minds into coherence on 10 separate solo-album occasions has been a process yielding plenty of pitfalls.

Those pitfalls were never fatal. If anything, they made him sound stronger over time. In Nas we see the artist and the art as one, with more contradictions than we’re used to.

Nas has survived through his storytelling. It’s an ability he’s nurtured by living a life worth telling someone about. His career mirrors that life. He’s been rich longer than he’s been broke, but he’s still struggling. Fighting different kinds of battles on different fronts. His struggle to survive won’t end while he’s still breathing.

Until that changes, Nas has proved that his story is worth listening to.

Alex Dweezy Dwyer has written about Hip Hop for over eight years, coincidentally the same year he got his first passport stamp in Paris. He's since lived in Rio De Janiero, Madrid and Chongqing, visited many other countries and spoken to many emcees. He calls Los Angeles home. Follow him on Twitter @adweezy.

210 Comments

  • C-los

    How are you gonna muse on how Nas is a storyteller at heart and not mention Undying Love from I AM? And how are you gonna say I Am was just his hood, overproduced side when Undying Love was the last track on the Album?

  • xavier

    This person was predominantly right but oochie wally was a fucking hit in the hood and clubs

  • Anonymous

    I DONT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT HIS HIGHS AND LOWS AT THE END OF THE DAY HE IS STILL THE BEST LYRICIST IN THE HIP HOP INDUSTRY HANDS DOWN THE ONLY ARTIST TO GET 5MICS FOR 2 ALBUMS 4.5MICS ON 4 ALBUMS WHICH 2 OF THEM SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN 5 WHICH IS THE NIGGER ALBUM AND THE LAST ONE LIFE IS GOOD BUT IT WOULDNT BE FAIR TO EVERYBODY ELSE IF THAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED... PEACE TO THE GOD EMCEE

  • r

    One Love and If I Ruled The World are 2 of the greatest songs ever

  • Unseen Poet

    Great story , way to sum it up

  • justin

    alex doesn't know what a club banger in 2000 would have been cause he was 15 and living in utah at that time.

  • HiLL Habits

    This was an awesome breakdown of Nas career, which is worthy of the depth that was reached in it. This is honestly maybe his best album ever. Life is Good kinda reminded me of Recovery how both of them are pushing 40 and toward the end-ish of their careers, and really have little to prove in the grand scheme of things. but they both RAPPED their asses off like very few have in a long time, for 18 tracks on Life is Good with barely ever a dull moment. you can hate on summer on smash but really without it theres very little marketability to the mainstream on the album. Em was similar with recovery thru i think 17 tracks? They both flowed more consistently throughout than either probably had their entire career. Except I think Nas sacrificed his lyrics less which made it a better album imo, but Ems flow on recovery was def more bonkers than nas on life is good. Props on the article. Props to Nas for being the shit for so long

  • Anonymous

    Nastradamus and Iam are reasons Nas has a global fan base & if I ruled the world. I would love to see you review Jay-Z or Em's catalogue with the same high standard... NAS = GOAT The man has never put out an album below 4 stars. EAT DICK hippy.

  • Real Talk 100

    I think the article got some backpack-bias. People generally agree that Nastradamus album was commercially and critically bad... ok, I agree, the real fans didnt really like the album that much at the time, and the singles werent really any good from a commercial standpoint. Fair... But Oochie Wally is glossed over like a disaster. If anyone was alive back in 2000, you'll remember that shit was HUGELY successful. That was like back to back to back on the radio, in the clubs, everywhere. Ive been at parties as recent as last year where they still play Oochie Wally right in between that techno bullshit lol, no lie. Alot of Illmatic diehards may have hated it, but the streets loved it, alot of kids still like it, and girls shake their asses to it. ya its good Braveheart Party fell off Stillmatic, song was okay. "My Generation" was a great song. "Summer on Smash" is a banger, ton of people that I know that arent really into Nas or real hiphop love that song, the beat is nice, the hook is catchy. My personal favorite songs on the album is "Locomotive" and especially "Stay", cuz I am no doubt a "trapped in the 90's nigga", but guess what, most people like high energy party tracks and no asses are shakin to the tune of Stay....

  • email

    Though this article was riddled with spelling and diction errors it was still interesting. I'd say Life Is Good ranks in his top 5 albums. Daughters is still boring as fuck though.

  • Tbones

    Good article and a nice read despite some unfounded and unsubstantiated portions. #warning, dumb skulls, u knw "urselves" stay of my post. First of all, IWW was classic IMO. Just cos it didnt have d Illmatic feel n producers on it does not take away from its ingenuity. Tracks like If I ruled the world,I gave u power, The message, Black girl lost, street dreams just to name a few were all dope hip hop tracks laced with insightful message and genius creativity (I gave u power). There is a reason why it is Nas's most commercially successful LP till date. The Firm was a good album dat didnt live up to expectations for several reasons. I am was a very dope LP with Hate me now, Nas is Like, Ny state of mind pt 2, Life is wat u make it etc. Hate me now in fact propelled the album to have Nas's biggest first week sales with almost 500k. So u cant dismiss the track cos u the "purists" dont like it. Nastradamus was an Ok album n way beyond Nas's capability as a mercurial MC. QB's finest was a compilation album, not a Nas one and Occhie wally was a club banger back in d days both in d strip clubs or orthodox clubs. Nas not sounding good on a Timbo beat is ur opinion n is not a true representation of hip hop fans. You wont see me tonite n U owe me were both killed by Nas for the purpose it was supposed to serve.Same goes for Summer of Smash. I guess d fashionable thing to do is to hate on Swiss Beats and any Nas club record as if these guys dont party it up in reality. The latter part of the writing is quite on point. In a nutshell, the Nas era y'all purists openly despise happens to be his most commercially successful era#Fact.

    • Anonymous

      co sign. It's like these critics that weren't there just regurgitate what other people have said years later to damper Nas' importance

  • Josephjoziah

    This was a great article. Good Job Alex Dywer.

  • Fuck Marcy

    This nigga needs a proof reader

    • Str82dapoint

      Co-sign the fuck outta that. This shit is hard to read with all the mistakes. How did this fool not even read his own shit over?

  • Anonymous

    u camel stans cant be serious. as long as jay z has records called dead presidents and empire state of mind he is still nasirs son.

  • Real Talk 100

    To the loser trolls, who was sayin Nas is irrelevant except on the net and all that bs... yall already heard the Lebron listenin to Life Is Good, you all already may have seen his interview with Michael Eric Dyson on NBC... Now I would like you to google NAS and BILL CLINTON where hes shakin hands with the President LOL, your hate makes you DELUSIONAL, its okay go get help, your livin in a fantasy world, Nas is a legend, its okay, sorry had to break reality to you like that, he's a legend in the game....

  • Mad Skillz

    A dickrider that writes a book to excuse the sellout moves of his hero. What a loser.

    • Anonymous

      waraba93 from youtube we know its you.get camels dick out ya ass

    • Anonymous

      just as Carrie said I am stunned that a mother can earn $4816 in 4 weeks on the internet. have you read this site (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/edXFR

  • Mu

    Despite the numerous grammatical errors, I think this was a well written editorial. There's NO way any objective hip-hop fan can document Nas' career without pointing out the many missteps, so yall Nas stans need to just stop it. Even with Nastradamus and Streets Disciple in his catalog, he's still on almost everybody'd top 10 all -time list... that overshadows any wack albums or songs he's made so there's no need for Nas' fans to take offense and feel like we have to defend his career. He's A Legend! Nuff said. On Another Note: That Lil Wayne line that is quoted in this piece plays fair like roller-coasters and clowns is NOT from Distant Relatives. That's from Wayne's verse on Little Brother's song "Breakin My Heart". Yes, Little Brother has a song with Lil Wayne for those who didn't know.

  • MaxxSteelTheGOD

    too many distorted facts to take this article serious ;-) *the line about codeine was FALSE* he says in the song " i DONT lean off codeine or promethazine, i just blow GREEN....." this is what passes for JOURNALISM these days ????

  • Anonymous

    too many distorted facts to take this article serious ;-)

  • The Ice Cold Phenom

    Illmatic is both a gift and curse for Nas' solo career. Nas lost focus and intensity once he stopped working more with Large Professor and Premier and never seemed to live up to that great album. He went commercial waaaay too fast and sounds more comfortable over gritty hip hop production. Wu Tang was able to achieve huge success while sticking to their formula throughout the 90s. Nas could have done the same thing but he just didn't have the right people or influences in his circle. Nas has/had enough talent to be the best and most successful rap artist ever. It's funny how things played out when considering the great success of illmatic.

    • Skylivedk

      ... he didn't have the crew nor the RZA. Most great successes are built on great teams.(as was Jay-Z's; don't underestimate the hustlerism of neither Dame nor Biggs). I still don't get why people make the money argument though. Your bank account doesn't do jack for your mic skills. This has been a tenant since the Golden Age.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, one of the best sellout albums of all time.

    • Anonymous

      lol IWW one of the best hiphop albums of all time

    • Anonymous

      Nas made the blueprint for selling out with IWW.

  • HHFAN

    Dope article, but I feel like some of it is strictly your opinion vs popular reality. Oochie Wally was a big hit in Hip Hop clubs world wide. I know because when that song came out I was in Italy, Japan, & the UK for work that summer. On another note, two things I wish people would get off of: 1. ) Hip Hop Is Dead is an incredible album. Maybe the production was too "pop" for some people, but I put it up there with Illmatic, LIG, and The Lost Tapes. 2. ) Get over the Nas & Jay-Z argument. I'm from NY and I've been a fan of both since I heard "It Aint Hard to Tell" and Jay-Z on Original Flavas "Can I Get Open" You realize they squashed the beef over 7 years ago right?: I Declare War - Beef Squashed (October 2005) Jay signs Nas to Def Jam - (Jan 2006) Nas & Jay MTV Interview - (Feb 2006) Black Republican (Nas & Jay-Z - Hip Hop Is Dead) Success (American Gangster. Nas also makes an appearance in the Roc Boys video) Both are talented and both are legends in the game.

    • Anonymous

      Word up for "Hip-Hop is Dead". For me, that's better than any of his successors. I feel like that's one of Nas' most focused, most complex albums ever, with surprisingly dope production. Looking at his discography, #1 is definiately "Illmatic", then (in order) "Stillmatic", "God's Son", "Hip-Hop Is Dead" and the list goes on. Well, I have to give "Life Is Good" more time to grow on me, despite the fact that its undeniable dope, I feel I can't place it on my list.

    • Anonymous

      Exaclty, plus Jay at Nas' birthday and release party.

  • Anonymous

    "Until that changes, Nas has proved that his story is worth listening to." But he never talked about HIS story. Nas stan rant part 93432359240.

  • axnjaxn420

    "one of the worst attempts at a club banger by any established artist"--describing oochie wally. What the fuck are you talking about?? I think because hov made fun of it you forget that oochie was #2 on hot rap singles and #26 on the billboard hot 100. The sample was dope, and so was "the lazily described raunch"--that's what made the song appealing and a hit. Also, you mention Distant Relatives with no mention of the two stand out tracks--"as we enter" and "nah mean".. this editorial is wack. You trace all his albums with no real insight, basically regurgitating the description of nas' catalogue that's on wikipedia.

    • Anonymous

      well said, people be sleeping on Distant Relatives. that album is for grown people. I bet 10 years from now yall will go back and listen to it and appreciate how GREAT the album is.

    • HHFAN

      I agree, also Distant Relatives was epic. He was right about "My Generation Though"

  • Anonymous

    Oh, wow. What will these furious Nas stans do next? Now we even got a novel-long excuse for this notorious hypocrite. SMH. Damn, someone needs to eradicate these embarrassing bastards and their hero from Hip Hop's history forever.

  • WTF

    Alex Dweezy Dwyer is english your first language? goddamn DX get some fucking editors. Interesting but a painful read. One wonders if you all graduated high school, shit.

  • Anonymous

    jay fucked carmen in nas whip jay signed nas NUFF SAID now get mad nas stans

  • PM

    You Jay Z vs Nas guys are funny...

  • Anonymous

    MUTHAFUCKIN LEGEND

  • yo

    Correction: The song that was sampled twice by Thief's Theme and Hip Hop is Dead was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vidda by Iron Butterfly not Apache by Incredible Bongo Band. Also fuck the haters, Nas is the best MC ever. Ever.

  • SCHWARZ

    Anonymous: dude your real names dylan.u live in michigan ++++++++++++ HOL' UP LMAO SO REX IS ACTUALLY DYLAN FROM MICHIGAN? LOL Y'ALL PULLED HIS CARD LIKE THAT? WOW

  • Anonymous

    "He's worth over 200 million" Yeah, and Cormega is running for president.

    • Anonymous

      lol. dumb ass nas stans believing everything they tell themselves. life is good >>> illmatic. for real. just need to believe it.

  • JC

    NAS is one of the dopest cats 20 years and kickin! Keeping real hip-hop alive in the mainstream. Salut.

  • SDK

    I'M ALL INSIDE A DARK ROOM MY INCENSE SMOKE TOOK THE FORM OF A GHOST AND IT SPOKE IT SAID-NAS YOU'RE THE BEST ON BOTH COASTS...

  • Anonymous

    You guys talk about nas' 6 milli in debt. That was in 2008. It's been4 years. He's worth over 200 million. Not that it matterss. But shut up already

  • SDK

    DOPE !!! NAS IS LEGEND G.O.A.T

  • T

    Personally I feel that us fans have right to criticize Nas for this and that, but one thing I rarely see on this site is fans just being appreciative the fact that artists like Nas,Jay, Em, have collectively released and supported hip-hop as a genre of music in general. Just between Jay and Nas we have 21 solo albums (Excluding a few I know)...Most of which I think are pretty good. I'm pretty sure Nas and Jay don't hate on each other on a daily basis. Why the hell are we bitching at each other?

  • w h o k n ow s

    luv this article

  • Anonymous

    NAS THANKS FOR ALL OF THE GREAT ALBUMS.

  • Anonymous

    THIS IS MUTHADON,NAS IS BACK DON'T HATE!

  • waraba93 aka kryptondavillain

    jay z dick feels so good in ma ass.

  • Anonymous

    Fuck Nas, even Drake subliminally dissed him in this Banger.LOL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bZkp7q19f0

  • Anonymous

    jay z publishing should go to ms wallace. u think i m lying get the XXL march 2012 issue that remembered biggie and turn to the page of rappers who bit biggie LINE.jay z came up with a good 355 lines(recycled aND NON RECYCLED)

  • Anonymous

    bubble lip sean!!!

  • Anonymous

    You can't deny Nas has had a great career and deserves to listed has one of the greatest lyricist in any genre. It's disappointing when I Am came out it could of been one the best double cd albums. The original track-list was something like this disk 1 1. Fetus (Belly Button Window 2. NY State Of Mind Pt. II 3. Life Is What You Make It 4. Small World 5. Hardest Thing To Do Is Stay Alive 6. Poppa Was a Playa 7. Nas Is Like 8. Blaze A 50 9. Favor For A Favor 10. We Will Survive Disc 2 1. After Life (Intro) 2. Amongst Kings 3. Life We Chose 4. Drunk By Myself 5. Pray 6. God Love Us 7. Ghetto Prisoners 8. Last Words 9. Family 10. Come Get Me 11. Find Your Wealth 12. U Gotta Love It 13. Wanna Play Rough 14. The Rise And Fall 15. My Worst Enemy 16.Undying Love Pretty genius how the intro is his birth and he kills himself in undying love. If it didn't get leaked we will probably have never heard that rushed I Am and Nastradomous, his weakest albums.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah right "IF"!!! Take your fantasizing ass right through the next door and off yourself. Pathetic Nas stanning is unparalleled.

    • blackula

      The intended version of I Am would have been incredible. Just looking at that track listing it would have been one of the best double albums ever. Easy classic.

    • Anonymous

      Or beef with jay. Then stillmatic may have been different. Can't change what happened. It happened. Nas still #1

  • #WTT

    jay z - $450mil, 14 grammys, 5 classic albums nas - $6mil in debt, 0 grammys, ONE classic album over 19 yrs, and signed up 2 def jam, no hit songs since 2006 end of story

    • Nasstill@it

      some of Jay stans are pathetic

    • Anonymous

      Jay destroyed Nas easily on BR and Success, Nas is child's play.

    • SDK

      JAY WAS GREAT BUT NAS CATALOGUE ??? HANDS DOWN

    • fatscar

      JAY-Z 5 CLASSIC ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY. JAY-Z IS GARBAGE. ITS NOT WHAT YOU SELL ASSHOLE ITS THE QUALITY YOU PUT OUT. AND NAS DOES IT ALL THE TIME

    • RIP 7

      5 Classic albums????? WTF you get your info from? Jay add to Reasonable Doubt and Blue Print. Evry thing else is material you blapping about. All the money and Nas will still put a mud hole in Jay azz. Jay my dog but the first thing yall nigga's yell is how much $$ a nigga got.

  • Anonymous

    nas-20 yrs in d game lookin 17 camel 18 yrs in the game looking 81 nas lyrical god who stays true to the roots of hip hop camel sold his soul/sold out switches his flow like a pillow faggot he is on every fuckin album nas always reps where he is from the bridge camel aka known as bubble lip saean in marcy, shitted on jaz o his father and uses marcy as promo for money making

  • The B

    Kool G. Rap is the greatest lyricist of all time, point blank period.

  • HOVA

    The thing is nas still sounds the same as he ever did and has no diversity of styles. jayz rips it in a variety of styles to any beat and adds different twists to his rhymes. nas is trash and has never stepped up his game to be able to hang with anybody let alone jayz. Hence the reason he hasnt had a hit since 2006. nas will NEVER be on the charts again

  • MBTM

    Nas has bitten many rappers, he stole Tragedy Khadafi's style, he stole lines from Lord Finesse, he's a poor mans Rakim, he sounds like Kool G Rap, he's used more Rakim lines than ANYONE else - he even wrote a song about Rakim's personal life including talking about his children, he jocked the Mafioso rap movement as soon as Jigga made it popular, he stole Tragedy's shoutouts from the Rebels, he CNN's 'thugged out' style, end of story!

  • LMAO

    if nas is the king, why didnt he jump on the renegade track with Em? coz he knew he'd get murked on that song just like hova did

  • Tony Yayo Is Gay

    Ok let's face it, nas back in the day had a few good songs, but come on dude just admit that your shit ain't saying shit. I still believe jayz is a better rapper, performer and business man than nas.

  • So Icy Boi

    jayz - $500mil weezy - $95mil nas - $6mil in debt me - $50k numbers dont lie

  • ahhahaa

    Dude is officially up there for most overrated of all time, NOTHING about what's he's doing is special in any kind of way, whether artistically nor rapwise. GTFOH with this dude even being in the consideration for the GOAT title for a 9 track album where the best producers of that time played a bigger part than him, nobody with so much inconsistency will never be the greatest of anything. If you think he rhymes good, I can only tell listen to some underground rappers

  • anon1

    think yall will find alot of teenagers that believe Nas is the GOAT and that Illmatic is the best album of all time. Let me say this: These fucks know NOTHING AND HAVE THE NERVE TO FELL ELITIST, they just REPEAT what they they heard. I have heard hundreds, no - THOUSANDS of tracks that STRAIGHT UP MURDER anything Nas EVER did lyrically. That yall haven't heard these tracks says more about yall than Nas. Just because yall are Nas/2Pac/Eminem fanboys, doesen't mean that these are the best - just that you are a dumb and ignorant fanboys.

    • Anonymous

      One well-thought out Lupe Fiasco line >>>>>> Nas'-"Rappers I monkey flip 'em" garbage ass.

    • manny

      I could see MCs such as black thought, maybe even gza, being better lyricists than nas, but nas's diverse discography over the years puts him above them overall. But anon1 you're a dumbass if you think those tracks are lyrically better than ANY nas songs.

    • Anonymous

      LOL that is fucking hilarious. as soon i saw still dre and stan I didn't even finish your shitty list

    • Anonymous

      Oh this gonna be easy, dont even have to go into my Nas archives. 'New York State of Mind' crushes all those tracks. By the way, you had the nerve to say Takeover when Nas killed him on Either...you can't be serious, bruh

    • anon1

      still dre, stan, murder was the case, CREAM, i used 2 love her, can i live, dynasty intro, aint no joke, takeover and put it on

    • Anonymous

      Okay, so I know where your head is, name 10 "lyrical" songs that's better than ANY track from Nas..

  • REX

    nas-20 yrs in d game lookin 17 camel 18 yrs in the game looking 81 nas lyrical god who stays true to the roots of hip hop camel sold his soul/sold out switches his flow like a pillow faggot he is on every fuckin album nas always reps where he is from the bridge camel aka known as bubble lip saean in marcy, shitted on jaz o his father and uses marcy as promo for money making

  • Anonymous

    Jay Z- Net worth 450 milli Nas- Net worth in debt -6 milli with the IRS Don't get it twisted nothing Nas has done, affected Jay Z, you can ask Nas Himself that. If anything thats the only thing that keeps Nas relevant, "Ether & illmatic" LMFAO you cant count up how many Jay Classics he has

  • Rex

    Jay-Z = uncontrollable hustler's ambition, networth of 450 million, 14 Grammys, 11 number 1 albums, beautiful wife and family, countless historical verses and performances, huge influence. Nas = horrible flow, uneven discography, several failed sellout-attempts, wifed two wh0res, broke, pays child support for a daughter whose embarrassing him on twitter, works with Young Money after accusing them of destroying Hip Hop, stops working with his weedcarriers because he's in fear of getting destroyed on a track, goes from the africa-loving social empowerer to the violent, drug-dealing, crime-glorifying don, signed to his arch enemy to be left 4 commerical dead..

  • Anonymous

    HHDX got their mouths wrapped around Nasir's cock

  • RIcky Rozay

    most of these rappers aint real niggas. Word, Nas bankrupt never was a drug runner, Lil Wayne aint no blood, Jeezy aint no BMF, 50 a snitch, Game a stripper, 2pac a ballerina. None of these niggas real you guys. If they was all real they all be dead now. Like it or not Ross is the new biggie. BAWSE!!!

    • Anonymous

      Last I checked Ross was a correctional officer before he began his rap career. If Ross was real, he'd still be a c.o.

  • jmanagement

    Woooww omg!!!!! Plz Check out the talented and upcoming female mc JAZI's debut album, "I.D.G.A.F." now available for DL at soundcloud com/jazi-idgaf JAZI'S OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO: youtube com/watch?v=yt-d__XVQDE&feature=plcp Follow JAZI on Twitter/Instagram @JAZIHI or facebook com/jazihawaii THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT. #JAZI #littlegirlbigdreams #idgaf #VDOT #TrackbabyRecords #asianrapper #newfemalerapper #hottestfemalerapper JAZIMUSIC COM

  • jmanagement

    Plz Check out the talented and upcoming female mc JAZI's debut album, "I.D.G.A.F." now available for DL at soundcloud com/jazi-idgaf JAZI'S OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO: youtube com/watch?v=yt-d__XVQDE&feature=plcp Follow JAZI on Twitter/Instagram @JAZIHI or www facebook com/jazihawaii THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT. #JAZI #littlegirlbigdreams #idgaf #VDOT #TrackbabyRecords #asianrapper #newfemalerapper #hottestfemalerapper JAZIMUSIC COM

  • jmanagement

    Plz Check out the talented and upcoming female mc JAZI's debut album, "I.D.G.A.F." now available for DL at www soundcloud com/jazi-idgaf JAZI'S OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO: www youtube com/watch?v=yt-d__XVQDE&feature=plcp Follow JAZI on Twitter/Instagram @JAZIHI or www facebook com/jazihawaii THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT. #JAZI #littlegirlbigdreams #idgaf #VDOT #TrackbabyRecords #asianrapper #newfemalerapper #hottestfemalerapper WWW JAZIMUSIC COM

  • jmanagement

    Plz Check out the talented upcoming female mc JAZI OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt-d__XVQDE&feature=plcp JAZI's debut album, "I.D.G.A.F." now available for DL at www.soundcloud.com/jazi-idgaf Follow JAZI on Twitter/Instagram @JAZIHI or www.facebook.com/jazihawaii THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT. #JAZI #littlegirlbigdreams #idgaf #VDOT #TrackbabyRecords #asianrapper #newfemalerapper #hottestfemalerapper WWW.JAZIMUSIC.COM

  • milehighkid303

    HE IS THE GOAT. Like ol' boy below me said you KIDS after 90' fucking shit up PERIOD. Only thing I'd add to his comment is I WOULD LOVE TO SEE HIM AND 50 link back up, FUNNY the GOAT recognized talent like that back in the day.....

  • b'F

    Didn't know HHDX was on Nas's dick.

  • Railho

    Damn! Lotta Nas hatin' goin on here. He IS the greatest MC of all time. HANDS DOWN! No explanation needed! Put the music on and go numb, haters, aka people born after 1990. You are the reason this Young Money, crap is played on the radio. Thank god for artists like School Boy Q and Asap Rocky!

  • Anonymous

    "very few can mess with nas" Eminem, Jay Z, Rakim, KRS 1, DMX, Q Tip, 2pac, Prodigy (of old), Notorious BIG, Big Pun, etc. all could mess with, and surpass Nas. Oh, and Drake too.

  • Anonymous

    "Nas stumbled into 1999 after a disastrous foray into film" Ticker should have won him an Oscar.

  • ap

    ambitious article, but too many holes, and poorly swayed opinion.....plus dude been only writing about hip hop 8yrs? my goodness, Thats barely 4 nas albums ago....

  • paul

    good article but "I Can" corny are u f**king serious, like the only rapper willing to to take a chance on a truly positive, no profanity song to uplift children thats not corny that's as real as it gets i seen my lil cousins school sing that at his graduation...lets be real now

  • james

    i like the article but the author may be a bit mistaken...even though songs like "oochie wally" and "you owe me" aren't really in nas lanes they were still bangers that EVERYONE was playing at the time... not "the worst attempt at a club banger ever" Oochie Wally was a #1 Billboard song, don't get me wrong i see your point lets just not go overboard

  • Doubl Negative

    Masta Ace, Pharoae Monche, OC, MF Doom and KRS have all been in the game as long as Nas and are still making records today, but none of those artists make girly records. For that reason alone, I've more respect for them dudes than Nas, whose new album has too many tracks aimed at teenage white girls. Sure, he caters for real hip-hop headz with tracks like Locomotive and Nasty but there are some truly abysmal, un-listenable R&B trash on Life Is Good too. It's starting to sound cliche, but Nas' shit worth fucking with now only accounts to two LPs; Lost Tapes and obviously Illmatic. Every Nas album has a real hip-hop anthem for normal rap fans, but he always tarnishes his records with the insipid, waterd-down dirge mentioned earlier. There's about ten decent tracks on Nas' new LP, but I don't like to skip, therefore, Life Is Good can't be in any sensible person's top 10 list. That honour shall be reserved for credible hip-hop sets this year by Necro, OC, Danny Brown, Gangrene, Alchemist, Oh No, Planet Asia and hopefully JJ Doom.

    • Anonymous

      You have already been fooled by Nas manipulation. Congrats.

    • T

      Girly records? Are you saying that every album is filled with Girly records? I Usually feel like his most recent albums (Streets Disciple -- Untitled) get the most hate. How many girly tracks would you count in those? I can't think of one. Did you think Cherry Wine was a girly track?

  • Hate revolver

    I think the writer fails to point out that that mafioso character was big at the time and everyone was doing. But l think the most important thing about Nas' character is that he has always been true to himself. You hear it in his music. it's him and his not going for the radio play. his telling you his story, what he thinks.

    • Jay signed Nas.

      Oh, featuring Rick Ross, Wayne, Tyga, Nicki Minaj, Nelly Furtado, making polished trash like Hero, Make The World Go Round, Summer On Smash is Nas not going for radio play. Ok.

  • Anonymous

    good read, couldnt hurt to proof read once in awhile tho...

  • Natural

    Fantastic article. Nas is hands-down the god of introspective lyricism and his consistency is un-fucking-believable in every sense. His abilities as a writer, the technicality of his flow, and his position as the humble prophet of the streets all work together to create a unique sound that is 100% his own. There will never be another Nas, and no emcee will ever come close.

  • Anonymous

    very few can fuck with nas.....

  • Ramon

    Ehhh, this article is pretty spotty! 1st off Nas best skill is not his stories, as that is not a skill but exactly what it is. His best skill is his lyricism. IWW is a Classic BTW, it's actually a better and more cohesive album than Illmatic.

  • Jay

    Nas the greatest if u think Jay better u corny and jumpin on the popular bandwagon

  • Its Um

    read the comments and I feel that doing songs with wayne, ross or somebody you hate doesn't make you a sellout, he claims gangsta and hustler than he's going to rock with them as long in his eyes they're true. Also he rock with some of your favorite indie artist, more than some in the mainstream artists ever did, so with that said he still has creditedbility. Also remember he was young when he started where hip hop and gangster rap was raising to gold standards, so he was getting money that he nevered touch before and all this attenstion, so I understand that he wanted ball out like his peers in the hip hop world, since he claim gangsta who is ill with words.

  • Tbones

    Good article and a nice read despite some unfounded and unsubstantiated portions. First of all, IWW was classic IMO. Just cos it didnt have d Illmatic feel n producers on it does not take away from its ingenuity. Tracks like If I ruled the world,I gave u power, The message, Black girl lost, street dreams just to name a few were all dope hip hop tracks laced with insightful message and genius creativity (I gave u power). There is a reason why it is Nas's most commercially successful LP till date. The Firm was a good album dat didnt live up to expectations for several reasons. I am was a very dope LP with Hate me now, Nas is Like, Ny state of mind pt 2, Life is wat u make it etc. Hate me now in fact propelled the album to have Nas's biggest first week sales with almost 500k. So u cant dismiss the track cos u the "purists" dont like it. Nastradamus was an Ok album n way beyond Nas's capability as a mercurial MC. QB's finest was a compilation album, not a Nas one and Occhie wally was a club banger back in d days both in d strip clubs or orthodox clubs. Nas not sounding good on a Timbo beat is ur opinion n is not a true representation of hip hop fans. You wont see me tonite n U owe me were both killed by Nas for the purpose it was supposed to serve.Same goes for Summer of Smash. I guess d fashionable thing to do is to hate on Swiss Beats and any Nas club record as if these guys dont party it up in reality. The latter part of the writing is quite on point. In a nutshell, the Nas era y'all purists openly despise happens to be his most commercially successful era#Fact.

  • jay

    nas the GOAT!!!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKXZiezvF5w&feature=context-cha

  • Anonymous

    no video for thief's theme? why not mention in street's disciple nas was also the "female mc" Scarlett? he changed vocal pitch to sound like a woman.. nice fact if anyone didn't know

    • Anonymous

      Nas is Scarlett and it's another evidence for his bitch tendencies. We all know he rocked that dress before they shot the cover.

    • Anonymous

      Hahahaha. No man. Nas is Scarlett Look up your info if you not old enough to remember 04.

    • Anonymous

      Umm no. Scarlett is an actual female emcee (the girl with the fatty walking into the store in the Wanksta video), she had a quick career from what I know just that feature and xxl eye candy (also a fail), Tho chances are Nas wrote her verse.

    • Anonymous

      Re reading I saw you mentioned it. Must have skipped that paragraph by mistake

  • CLOWN LIKE ANALYSIS

    Decent article but clown ass perspective, how the fuck you gonna say My Generation and I Can were corny records. They both served the same purpose of uplifting a young generation of ghetto kids. Jump the fuck off his nuts and give the man his proper respect.

  • Acesun

    Yo ciph3r, Hate is confused admiration. -Nas Time frames and minds change, isn't that the Truth, minds have changed for the worse in reference to Hip Hop, 90% of the artists today, would not be considered an Artist 20 years ago, that's how the game has changed, the next generation ushered in the 'saturation' ERA where there is no individuality, a bunch of carbon copy, corporate america clones, backed by the machines to make you believe it's something worth listening too. The fact that you named all those other persona's that your avg. fan is bound to admire, is the reason why Nas stays relevant, because instead of trying to protray the many different persona's you named, He stays HIMSELF, which makes him relevant in ANY ERA.

    • Anonymous

      "oh cut the bs would you!! nas has ZERO individuality.. he plays whatever role he thinks will work and it rarely does. at the end of the day he talks about gettin bitches, money, and selling drugs wowwwww what a drastic change from anything else. just because hes not on the radio doesn't mean he is some profound intellectual and radios are so scared to play him because somehow the world will change and they will lose money. trust me Nas shoots or mainstream success its his goal he just doesn't make music appealing enough for the masses to buy into it. you mean to tell me The Don wasn't an attempt to be mainstream?? of course it was the song was just ass. please stop acting like him not being a mainstream artist is because he keeps it "REAL" no, he made hip hop is dead then collab'd with TYGA so shut up" You just gave em a taste of that Ether, hahaha.

    • Anonymous

      Why do you act like you either have to be 100% mainstream or 100% underground? Nas at this stage of his career is the perfect blend of both. Nas likes to experiment that's why every album of his is so conceptually different. Also he made that track with tyga because his daughter was a fan of him

    • ciph3r

      oh cut the bs would you!! nas has ZERO individuality.. he plays whatever role he thinks will work and it rarely does. at the end of the day he talks about gettin bitches, money, and selling drugs wowwwww what a drastic change from anything else. just because hes not on the radio doesn't mean he is some profound intellectual and radios are so scared to play him because somehow the world will change and they will lose money. trust me Nas shoots or mainstream success its his goal he just doesn't make music appealing enough for the masses to buy into it. you mean to tell me The Don wasn't an attempt to be mainstream?? of course it was the song was just ass. please stop acting like him not being a mainstream artist is because he keeps it "REAL" no, he made hip hop is dead then collab'd with TYGA so shut up.

    • Anonymous

      This cat knows what's up. PREACH TO EM!

    • nsparks923

      Excellent comment!

  • Anonymous

    Why would you not mention that I am was the first heavily bootlegged cd ever. And it was supposed to be a double LP with tracks from the lost tapes on there. But it got leaked early so they rushed it out. Sony was then threatening to release unreleased material so nas went and rushed nastradomus. If I am would have been the double LP it was intended to be.....pffffttt there prob wouldn't be beef with jay.

  • ciph3r

    I'm starting to think at this point, you couldn't surgically remove HHDX's tongue from Nas' nuts. I almost died of shock reading this article because even they admitted that the majority of Nas' releases have been garbage. BUT just before I could give props to the editor I get to the end and the inevitable "Those pitfalls were never fatal. If anything, they made him sound stronger over time. In Nas we see the artist and the art as one, with more contradictions than were used to." as if his imperfections are still perfection.So basically you are saying that you love this artist for his story-telling and passion and for the fact that none of it is genuine. Nas to me, is none of the images he attempts to portray in any of the albums, he just an attention whore in all honesty. He can't play the swagg'd out baller because Lil Wayne has 13-18 groupie fan base on lock, he can't play the ill minded lyricist because Eminem is King in that avenue, tracks like 'The Don' pale in comparison to the class that Jay-Z brings to a song. I can't stand that he's still considered an elite MC or that he has remained relevant most people don't even know Nas just dropped his album, it's only his dinosaur stuck in the 90's fans that bought his album, Jay and Eminem still capture young and dedicated fans alike Nas on the other hand has to team with the YMCMB roster and Rick Ross in a desperate attempt to gain a young audience which he still has not done. We celebrate this man for 1 classic album and a 'better then average' album and the rest is forgettable. GET OVER IT!!! It bugs me that in order to be considered a true Hip-Hop fan you have to place Nas in the top 3 of all time or you have no idea what you are talking about. Time frames and minds change, he was great for his time but today he is an indecisive skitzophrenic average rhymer.

    • Anonymous

      "You're one of those people who will never give Nas his props because he never went pop. That the problem with Nas. he is not pop, so people don't give him his credit like a Jay Z, who can't touch Nas on a mic. But because Jay Z is pop they look at him different. Nas is the best, man. Even on his wack album which was Nastradamus, he is better than most rappers." Nah, that's the reason yall groupies give Nas more props, like he stayed on that level by choice. Like he didn't make countless sellout attempts. Like he didn't sign to Jay. Like he didn't work with ringtone rappers after putting them on blast.

    • Ramelo

      HA! you are the TYPICAL "Insecure" Jay-Z obsessive stan. The fact that you automatically have to bring up Jay-Z on a Nas article gives that away. So since you wanted to bring it up, let's talk real rap. Jay has 1 technical advantage on Nas which is his Wordplay. When both are at their peak, Jay's wordplay is slightly better than Nas wordplay. (It Was Written wordplay vs. Reasonable Doubt wordplay) and Jay does have a better career and has made better decisions. But there's the other side of the coin. In terms of technical things that Nas does better than Jay-Z... Lyrically he trumps Jay, Storytelling, Creativity, Concepts, Songwriting Ability, Putting together complete albums. Yeah Nas does all those things better than Jay-Z playa. And from a career perspective, Nas didn't sell his soul to stay relevant. Jay's line couldn't speak truer. "Would you rather be overrated or underpaid" That's a self convicting statement from Jay. Jay hasn't made dope music since 2003 with the Black Album, just like Nas hadn't made dope music since 2002 with God's Son. Niggas are bullshitters! Kingdom Come was garbage, American Gangsta was a cheesy concept, let me make an album based off of movie character that is currently in theaters, BP3 had Drake & Lil Wayne influence all over it (Reminder, Hate, etc) and WTT was pure hype but the content and production didn't come close to matching the hype. That's the truth. Both of them have flaws, and Jay has damn near just as many as Nas, and from a pure Rapping standpoint, he has more! Keep It Funky homie

    • Juice

      smh, your adolescence shows.

    • hate revolver

      You're one of those people who will never give Nas his props because he never went pop. That the problem with Nas. he is not pop, so people don't give him his credit like a Jay Z, who can't touch Nas on a mic. But because Jay Z is pop they look at him different. Nas is the best, man. Even on his wack album which was Nastradamus, he is better than most rappers.

    • ciph3r

      there you go.... lol I dont agree with the statement that Nas is relevant so i have to worship Lil Wayne haha umm negative!! i have no favorite rapper, i just give props when they are due. and i did the same for nas, and havent felt the need to do it again in a very long time. case closed. i win because i just said case closed lol

    • RIP 7

      I guess a ill rhymer to you is Wanye huh? Nas is still better than most of these new rapper's that you call hot. And will be in the top 5 dead or alive until some one else come out with something that can top is lyric's, and work that he has been putting out.

    • Maj

      Nas Dropped a game changer, your favourite rapper prolly hasnt done that. Hes dropped dope shit since & some wack shit since but who the hell carries on dropping game changers year after year? Jay doesnt, and he my fav rapper. Pac dropped a couple but his material was rinsed just cos he was popped. Same goes with BIG. Eminem still hasnt dropped a gamechanger even tho hes the better rapper. Stillmatic went toe to toe with The Blueprint which is considered a classic. Hip Hop is Dead raised eyebrows all around hip hop and ended up being one of his better sellers. Reality is Nas is relevant even tho it was hard to meet the crazy levels he set himself up for after his debut. Case Closed

    • divine1-2

      Nas is FAR beyond avg. Eminem and Hov are nice witty lyricist. Nas gets attention because his lyrics are ALWAYS consistant and ALWAYS has substance. His "avg" verses are prolly better than your fav rappers best verse. When it comes to Nas, DX simply tells it like it is...and YES he is the greatest lyricist OF ALL TIME.

    • Case Closed

      average rhymer shut the fuck up. He has probably influence your favorite rapper. If this wan EM article you would be waiting for his nuts to hit your mouth. Case Closed

  • gerritw6

    Solid thoroughly made article with some great insight. Please review your work though, picked up on some editorial mistakes that could sure help the article flow better. Otherwise I think this shows that Nas truly is hip hop in his own way. The story-telling he brings to the game in undeniably creative and witty. One of the best.

  • Anonymous

    He didn't allow himself to be pigeonholed like the other rappers that came and went during his career, yeah he has done some sellout moves but within his albums all of them there's always a jewel to remind people he still that nigga that can spit for us not to get it twisted. That's he still around and it also boils down to growing up.

  • nsparks923

    Random thought - I always find it interesting that Nas gets called out for "Oochie Wally" when in fact it wasnt an original Nas song. If you listed to the album version of the song, he is not even on there. It was a Braveheart song with Nas verse added after the fact as a single for marketing purposes. But, oh well doesnt really matter at this point.

    • blaqonlnedotcom

      Thank You!! But just because Nas is on it, people call it his song!! Nas jumped on the song only to help promote the Braveheart Album Nas is the only artist, that has his kind of commercial success that is not afraid to take a chance, thats why he is Nas. Nas is not afraid to try new shit, make the same old shit or just kill a track, everyone else is scared. Also to those who say Nas makes the dope dealing songs... you need to really listed to the songs, he usually brings it around to a story or sending a message through the verse, Nas keeps his music tru to being a PERSON who lives in our society, Nas show us the different sides ofa person

    • Anonymous

      Yep. True heads know nas ain't on that shit Who cares qb finest ain't even a nas cd

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for writing this

  • John smith

    Nas is nice. A varied career from a compelling individual. If he would have had the charisma of 2pac he would be out of sight and top of the game. If jay z had the lyrical nouse of nas he would be top dog, instead he is the best of a generation but never will be king.

  • asdasd

    what a good article, great read

  • gm

    This is why I don't think Nas is sincere. Even if he is, he'll contradict himself later and then come back to it. I'm good on Illmatic-God's Son.

    • ofsoundmind

      Life and death are contradictions. Search earnestly and you will find more contradictions than absolute truths.

  • Anonymous

    Nas does tracks with young money, he sold out a long time ago, he's click jumping sell out clown. Rakim is real hip hop.

    • william brown

      "click jumping"...what the fuck are you talking about?...did you not read the article or have you not followed nas for the last twenty years?...he's his own man...as much as hip hop as rakim...and who gives a fuck if he records with young money, he's an artist...

    • lulz

      And where is Rakim now? He hasn't sold any fucking records since 1997. Get real. Plus dude did some pop sounding shit himself and Maino was on his last single...LAME