Nas has released a number of classics in the 27 years since his debut album Illmatic, but he admits some of his LPs could do with a little tinkering. In a new cover story for i-D Magazine, the Hip Hop legend was asked whether he’d choose to redo any of his albums if he had the chance.
He responded, “No, but if I decided to challenge myself to do it, I would probably change some things on I Am… and I would change some things probably on Nastradamus.” I don’t even know what’s on those albums. I could probably only remember two songs for each album.”
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Nas’ third studio album I Am… was released in 1999 including the singles “Nas Is Like” and “Hate Me Now.” Featuring Diddy, Scarface, Aaliyah and DMX, the LP debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling over 470,000 copies in its first week. Intended to be a double album, several songs leaked online prior to its release, forcing Nas to record new material and restructure the tracklist.
“After my first record, they were like, ‘You can’t do it again. He can’t do this. He can’t do that. He’s not as big as this one. He’s not as big as that one. He’ll never be around again. He’s too grimy. He’s too street. He has a bad following. People around him start trouble,'” Nas told Rolling Stone in 2014.
He continued, “I had a bad rep, so I blew that away with the second album. So now they mad at that, and found a different reason to be mad at me. So ‘Hate Me Now’ was the appropriate record at the time.”
Nastradamus arrived just seven months after I Am…, debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 with over 232,000 copies in its first week. Despite their commercial success, both I Am… and Nastradamus have polarizing legacies.
“On [Nastradamus], there’s a couple of songs that have a certain sound to it that doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve done,” he explained to Rolling Stone. “And it was a gray area in my life and that album represents that gray area. It was personal stuff that I’d rather not elaborate on. But I have nothing against that album.”
He added, “The Nostradamus thing was about the end of the world being the year 2000, so my record would be dropping right toward the end of the world.”