This post was originally supposed to be up last week but life, work and other posts got in the way. I usually save AUX chronicles for Friday but Nasir is my favourite rapper and I’m making an exception for him. The plan is to run through all Nas’ albums and talk a bit about my favourite song on the album (Nastradamus doesn’t count partly because it was a wack album and partly because I never bothered to buy it).
Here we go (DJ Envy Voice)!
Illmatic – I have to confess that for a long time, I wondered what the fuss about Illmatic was and I believe I was justified for all this wondering because I wasn’t more than 5 or 6 years old when the album came out and it’s not like the album was a commercial success so I didn’t hear any of the songs from the album on the radio in the 90’s ergo the only way to find out about the gems was to take hip hop lessons by listening to it. I eventually took said lessons and I get it now. Illmatic was a brilliant album. It’s even more remarkable when you consider Nas was only 18 when he released the album. With that said, my best song is It ain’t hard to tell. I practically forced myself to get into it because you can’t say you’re a Nas fan if you can’t discuss his most critically acclaimed album in depth.
It Was Written – I got this album in December of 2004. I was spending Christmas with my cousins and they had Christmas habits. Word had gone round that I was a Nas fan I guess and they got me it was written. If you know me, you know I am hard headed about music being forced on me so when I unwrapped the pack and saw It was written (I was really expecting to see Streets Disciple which had just come out), my first thought was what the hell is It was written. I won’t lie, this album sat in the dust for a while before I started bumping it. Truth be told, I probably prefer it to Illmatic. The album gave us classics such as If I ruled the world with Lauryn Hill and Street Dreams with a Casino inspired video. I think the album is mostly famous for the step up in production from his first album. It was mostly Track Masters with some Dr. Dre sprinkled in there. Unlike his first album, there were a bunch of features on this album my girl Foxy Brown and Mobb Deep make an appearance. My best song off the album is Shootouts – the chorus sounds so soulful. I love me some soulful sounds mixed with laid back flows. I gave you power is also pretty good actually where he rhymes from the perspective of a gun.
I Am – Full Disclosure – I never actually owned this album and I only listened to it a bunch of times. It did have some decent songs though like Hate me Now and a classic from secondary school parties in the early 2000’s – You won’t see me tonight. My best song off the album is Nas is Like. A line from the song inspired the title of this post. As much as I like the lyrics and everything, what makes the song for me is the production from DJ Premier. He really did his thing on the song. It was also a song I didn’t like until I got older and listened to the lyrics very well.
Nastradamus – (nothing to see here)
Stillmatic – When I was in secondary school, I had one of those CD players that let you play a CD and then record the song that was playing on a tape. This meant I got the first bite on most of the new albums that came out. Whoever got it first will bring it to class then a bunch of people would give me tapes and I’d help them record the albums on their tapes. This was how I got my first listen of Stillmatic in 2001 when it came out. Truth be told, I really only wanted to listen to Ether. Nothing further was done until the summer of 2002 when of course Stillmatic was half price and I bought it. Another thing I did in Secondary School was listen to whatever album I was feeling as I fell asleep. Stillmatic stayed in my CD player for a long long time and it was Stillmatic that really made me a Nas fan. I could say every song off the album is my best song so it is impossible for me to pick one. If you have noticed, I have tried to stay away from the really popular songs from these albums so I’ll go for You’re the man – It’s Nas at his open, introspective and story telling best. I also like Rule mainly for the tears for fears sample and the production.it was released around September 11 2001 and he talks about world peace and for us to stop acting like savages oh and Miss Amerie sounds so so soulful on the hook. Rewind is a top song which Nas tells a story backwards from the end. He told the story so well that I picture everything he was describing when I listen to it.
God’s Son – by the time this one came out, I had rinsed the hell out of Stillmatic and I considered myself a real Nas fan. Nas made the album right after his mum died and most of the songs sound like melancholy which I can understand to be fair. My best song off the album is Get Down. What’s funny again is that in secondary school, I wasn’t one for story telling in songs. If the beat wasn’t catchy, then I wasn’t interested. I saw the video for Get Down and realised what a stupid way that was to judge songs. Get Down is a really good song. Each verse tells a story about something else. It kind of reminds me of Can you hear me by Fabulous off his Real Talk album. Made you Look gets an honourable mention. The remix with Jadakiss and Ludacris was absolute fire!
Street’s Disciple – I think this album was slept on a lot. In 2004 when I got It was written for Christmas, 2 days later, I went out and bought this album because that’s what I really wanted to listen to. The album has 2 CD’s and over 20 songs so there is no way I can pick one song as my best. I’ll pick 2. Live Now – it’s a song about someone who is dying going through the good times and bad times. The person dies towards the end of the song not before urging the person she is talking to to put out her music. Then there is Sekou Story which like the name says is about the trials of a person named Sekou. Again it’s a lot of story telling and for someone that likes painting pictures in my head, this song gets me. It’s like Rewind in that it just goes on for about 2 minutes without a chorus and it ends.
Hip Hop is Dead – I waited and waited for this album to come out. It was Nas’ first album on def jam. As a Nas fan, this album felt like the album was expensive food but I don’t like caviar, chicken and chips will do just fine. You can tell that the production was super expensive and he had top notch features. It didn’t sound like what I was used to. I guess this is how older people felt when it was written came out. Anyway, my favourite song off the album was Let there be Light. It sounds oh so soulful and it features a guy by the name of Tre Williams whom I was sure was going to be a big star but he’s nowhere to be found.
Untitled – I waited on this album as well and it is in my top 3 favourite Nas albums. Apart from Make the world go round with the Game and Chris Brown which was a terrible song that has no place on the album, all the songs on the album bang! My favourite song off the album is We’re not alone – its that introspective thing again!
Distant Relatives – Technically, this isn’t a Nas album, it’s with Damian Marley and I’d like to say how super the album was but if I’m honest, some of the songs sound a bit left to me. Having said that, of course it has some bangers. As we enter doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard and My personal favourite is Patience which samples Sabali from my favourite Malian blind couple Amadou et Mariam –
You say the earth is flat, if you went to far, you will fall off/Now the earth is round, if the shape change again, everybody would a start laugh – Damian Marley
Life is Good – This is another album I’m not sure how I feel about. My acid test for an album is to play it non stop in my car for a week to see if it sticks. I remember playing this album for well over a week and it didn’t stick. My best song off the album is Cherry Wine with Amy Winehouse
You can tell I kind of ran out of steam towards the end but I hope I did the post justice.