.
  • biff tannen

    Dope! Great article.

    Don't care what anyone says as far as LYRICS go, Nas is the GOAT.

  • Holiday Kirk

    My favorite part about Questlove's book is when he describes the Source Awards when Ready to Die crushed Illmatic. Watching Nas melt in his seat as he lost over and over again Quest said to Black Thought "He's never going to be the same. You just watch." And that one moment may have shaped Nas' career more than any other.

    • biff tannen

      Word

    • who cares

      This was in the "Mo' Meta Blues" book?

      • Holiday Kirk

        Yep.

        • who cares

          Dope. I've been meaning to check out that book, but now it just moved up toward the top of my list.

    • OE

      I agree imo ready to die crushed illmatic only cause imo biggie smalls is the goat of the goats! And is my all time fave rapper since 93!

  • YeDaTruth

    I don't hate Nas. I hate Nas Stans. They swear everything he drops is gold, and say shit like "you just don't understand what he's saying, he's too deep for you" when you don't like some of his work. Side Note: Jay won the beef. He's more relevant, still makes better music, and Takeover stuck to facts. Ether was gay and ugly jokes. That being said, Nas is a legend, arguably one of the best. But you nas stans suck him off entirely too much, and make it hard to objectively listen to the man without being overly critical.

    • Ryan Buley

      You think Jay-Z makes better music because you have terrible taste in Hip-Hop. It really is as simple as that. LMAO!

      • YeDaTruth

        Ha! It's called an opinion that differs from yours! Music is subjective! LMAO!

    • Exhibit C

      How many times do we have to hear the "I don't hate an artist, I hate his fans" argument. I think the same thing has been said a million times about every great rapper who has a "hipster" fan base. Kendrick Lamar is the new target of these rants. We get it. Same thing with your analysis of who won the Jay-Z/Nas feud. You get zero points for originality.

      • YeDaTruth

        I don't want points for originality, I was just stating my genuine opinion.

    • iAmRafy

      I agree with the Ether/Takeover debate.
      Nas' first few albums were all nice to me, Ever since then it ain't even worth a download unless he's someone. It's like he doesn't even know what he wants to be. He wanted to be a lyricist on Illmatic, Hood nigga on It was written, Dick Rider on I am... Although Favor for a Favor is one of his best's tracks, then from there he went everywhere from back to a poet, to idk wtf he did on Street's Disciple, Hip hop is dead was a decent tract, Jay kinda helped him on that, and then he jumped on that Damien Marley shit, Too much talent, forever lost down a road to find himself.

      • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

        you don't like Distant Relatives?

        • Ted

          I fucking LOVE that album.

          • http://signup.divinerenergy.com/ Anthony Dixon

            word .. has everything you need.

      • http://tonymoreaux781.bandcamp.com/album/had-you-at-hello-ep malmoeone3

        Good to see some dope explanations. I def agree

    • Alldaygb

      My question to you is, how exactly is Takeover facts? The whole "One hot album every 10 year average" line can be picked apart. From 1994 to 2001 Nas had already dropped Illmatic and It Was Written, that's not even 10 years and he came out with Stillmatic in 2001. So that's already 3. How is that line even remotely fact? Secondly, sine when does success detemine who won a lyrical battle? That's what I hate about Jay-Z stans...

      • YeDaTruth

        you pointed 1 line out. Neither Jay's or Nas' disses were 100% accurate. They were trying to undermine each other. To me, Jay won because his disses were better, not because he's more successful. I only brought up the success because they were both competing and arguing about who sonned who, who was the real king of NY, etc. They weren't JUST arguing about who was the best lyrically. They were debating points about relevance, originality, "street cred", etc.

        • Alldaygb

          That's all well and great, but at the time they still had the same level of relevance, or else there wouldn't be any diss records. Nothing about right now has anything to do with who won, it's about the time period. They aren't beefing now are they? I could go all day about how many lines Jay was wrong about, I only used that one because that's usually the one Jay stans used to try and prove that Jay won. It's either that or the accolades Jay has accomplished since the beef. They wont talk about that Angie Martinez interview though.

          • YeDaTruth

            Yeah, well luckily I'm not a Jay stan. I just honestly feel he makes better music and albums overall. That's not to say I'm blinded by any favoritism. Life is good was better than Magna Carta in my opinion. Magna Carta was boring. But I find myself listening to Jay more.

          • http://tonymoreaux781.bandcamp.com/album/had-you-at-hello-ep malmoeone3

            Nas stans call jay fans a stan and vice versa while using an eminem phrase. Lol. But dude all your points make sense imo. Jay def makes better music and more listenable albums cuz he doesn't keep his head stuck in books and then base rhymes off of them over corny beats. Nas will always have the better concepts like the gun song (which he borrowed from Pharoahe Monch), 2nd childhood etc. But Jay has more diversity in flow, word play and def has a better ear for beats. Both can be contradicting but Nas takes it to anotther level. And Jay won the beef in terms of keeping it short on Takeover. But nas won in terms of making a whole song. But he kinda retorted to name calling (fail). Plus I dont think Jay would have gotten so angry to the point where it threw him off his game if the lies Nas spit were true. Lies can make you so angry, that you just wanna slap someone. Lol

    • StudentOfTheGame

      thats what stans do for any rapper they are a stan of.

      its their opinion, no matter how biased

    • http://tonymoreaux781.bandcamp.com/album/had-you-at-hello-ep malmoeone3

      Well said dude.

  • http://www.HoodCelebritys.com/ hoodcelebritys

    The realist shit i'v read in a long time.

  • Hood Oracle

    why do us Nas stans critic him for going commercial when almost everybody's favorite rapper has gone commercial Jay didn't ride around in a lexus and spit with Jaz-o his whole career, Snoop ain't crip walking down lbc in a blue and black flannel no more, Eminem hasn't made a good album since MMLP, but why I ask are we so hard on Nasir Jones...granted he had a few lackluster albums(I AM, Nastradusmas,Street Disciple) but again everybodies favorite rappers has a few albums they say "meh"

    • Tbones

      Cosignee, dont let them fool u. Most of them like this writer are more critics that fans.

      Him and his cohorts are confused as fuck.

      In one bit, hes saying he dint like Nas not dropping Illmatic esque through out his career.

      In another bit, hes saying he hates Nas not being as big as Jay, watever that means.

      This writer still thinks Nas signed with Jay, and not DefJam. Oh Jay owns DefJam, my bad.

      This writer really believes Ether was a bunch of insult although it managed to get its target all flustered and almost crying on radio, while Takeover is the gospel truth. I rest my case.

    • biff tannen

      Streets Desciple would've been a great album had it not been a double album imo

    • Holiday Kirk

      Jay went commercial but kept making good music. Sure, that's not 100% true but it's hard to front on most of his big hits. When Nas went commerical his output went straight in the shitter.

    • marty mcfly

      I think alot of it has to do with his commercial music sounding forced rather then just an extension of his art. Alot of his club songs/more commercial songs just aint that good and I think that also has something do with it. You take a song like You Own Me, its not that its a reach for radio, its just it doesn't really sound good. Nas forces things in a commercial way instead of just honestly delivering radio material.

    • marty mcfly

      When Jay delivers a club song like Dirt Off Ya Shoulder, he's completely comfortable in the element. Nothing sounds forced, he sounds like the same Jayz from the block just over a commercial beat. Im sure Nas is completely comfortable in the club in reality and im sure deep down Nas likes commercial rap cause nobody is walking around reading books 24/7 but when it comes to delivering that type of song? Nas just sounds a little off.

    • Excalibur

      I don't think I AM and Street Disciple are lackluster albums at all. Nastradamus is probably his only poor album, but this says more about Nas' greatness and GOAT status than anything else.

  • marty mcfly

    That was DOPE. I think I told this story before but anyway when I got Illmatic, I also bought a video game that day (I forgot what game) so I went home and played the video game and all of a sudden we had a power outage. It was already dark outside but when the power went out then it was just pitch blackness in the house. So I put Illmatic in my walkman and listened to that shit in complete darkness. The roller coaster my mind went on with that album for the next 40 mins was legendary. Anyway I can agree with everything said in this cause I know exactly where the writer is coming from. First, I gotta give Nas the benefit of the doubt and say that the pressure on his shoulders had to be crazy for the first decade of is career. First off, he's the poster boy for conscious rap so Nas had a hard road in front of him just from that aspect. The shit I gotta say about Nas though is that alot of times he sounds uncomfortable and that feeling can be stamped into the music and people can feel that when they hear it. For example, if you take Jay or Wayne, or Biggie etc... They get to a point where they find their zone as rappers, where they sound like its not even a calculated delivery, they just go in the booth and get busy and its like whatever beat comes on gets murked immediately. Nas imo only been in the zone a few times in his career and thats cause he knows people comb through his bars so they can run and go compare to Jayz and thats another thing about Nas... Everything this guy says or does is almost always compared to what Jayz is doing at the time. Thats not Nas fault but its like people hear Nas and they want so bad to be able to say hey see I told you he's better then Jay, that they not even really listening to Nas for Nas at that point. Now that may go on for like 1 or 2 listens and the rest of the time, they not comparing to Jay but thats just another factor when people listen to Nas. People have this image of Nas in their mind where they see him as the lyrical Moses or some shit so at that point they not even looking at Nas as a everyday person anymore. They expect some super poetical shit thats gonna change their life and open the stargate in their mind each time they hear Nas and I get that but its just not reality for Nas to always carry that mission for people. I could go on but yeah, Nas I feel at times over thinks stuff and you can hear it in the music and it can sound like he's 2nd guessing himself or not really comfortable with everything thats being said. Still though he's one of the illest of all time but just saying.

    • https://twitter.com/_ChelseaTalk @_ChelseaTalk

      Why are you so against hitting "enter?"

      • biff tannen

        Lol

  • http://insite.bandcamp.com/ IN_SITE

    best to ever do it even on his weakest lps he dropped so many jewels

    he speaks with his soul thats enuff http://insite.bandcamp.com/

  • http://peopleofwalmart.com YoMayka

    Make sure you realize that this is ONLY ONE PERSONS OPINION of Nas and what molded him and guided his decisions. That said, unless you have rocked Nas's J's, you dont know shit and you probably would have done a much shittier job being him.

  • http://peopleofwalmart.com YoMayka

    I see it in a much more positive light. He brought Real shit to the mainstreams front door. (and all you grown folk know how the mainstream was back then, these kids think they got it bad these days) Almost at the exact moment that i counted him out, The mother fucker drops Stillmatic, and just kept droppin dopeness. He owned the next 7-10 years as far as im concerned. i never thought anyone could make rap music of that quality and still be that successful. And i dont know if anyone ever will again. Feel how you want about his oochie walleys, but without those terrible tracks, he would have never had the platform that made people hear One Mic that otherwise wouldnt have. He took a major gamble on his career in order to get his message out, and there arent many other things in like bigger than ones career.. im just glad he did that shit.

  • disqus_pyrGXaSTDx

    lost tapes was the bomb too, and the bootleg volumes were pretty good

  • AndOneill

    Great article and well written my man! I still think nas is the greatest to ever do it tho, no matter how many 'bad' albums people say he made I can still pick songs on them that nobody else could make in my opinion! Hiphop at it's finest

  • Wallace C

    The Nas slander/hate really does stem from the point of emphasis that his sheer greatness hasn't been consistent. He could very well be the most talented MC we've seen. And very likely the best in terms of pure talent & skill, BUT...more so than going "Commercial", I think every true head, just wishes Nas had a better team in his ear in terms of his production choices or should I say a Great Producer to oversee/EP his albums. You hear "Stans" that will say, the beat doesn't matter, no the production absolutely does matter! It's the Canvas added with his Paint Brush to make the Painting. He has the best 1st 2 Solo albums of any MC, and his performance on IWW is more refined than his performance on Illmatic. IWW may actually be the best MC performance in terms of lyricism, style, concept, stories, wordplay, coldness all wrapped in 1 of any Hip Hop album. Yet, it's easy to look at Streets Disciple, Nastradamus, HHID, Untitled, half of God's Son, half of I Am, and say to yourself Nas never spits garbage, but damn most of the production brings no life to the table and it dulls out the album. If you really listen to Nas, you know he sounds good over certain sounds/energy...Jazz, Funk, some Soul, Piano, Horns, Thick Basslines, Gritty, Sinister, Triumphant production and because of that certain producers fit the right bill for him...Premier, Pete Rock, Large Pro, Qtip, Buckwild, Alchemist, EZ Elpee, Showbiz, 9th Wonder, etc...No offense to the young bucks on the scene or some of the popular Rap producers, but I don't know any diehard Nas fans who look forward to him working with Swizz, Timbo, or Flava of the month producers like Hitboy. That's just not what sounds good with his style and voice. Just my opinion though.

    • YeDaTruth

      I completely agree. I have no idea why Nas and Swizz collab so often, it's never anything spectacular. Even the original version of Swizz' top down, featuring nas, was better when it was just swizz rapping. and swizz' raps are TERRIBLE.

    • tictac

      I'd disgress about the hitboy comment,
      Nas would blaze flames if he had beats like 1train or even trophies, as you said he sounds great over triumphant horns.
      Let's not put down this generatio's producers off just yet just cause theyre new.

  • Excalibur

    I AM also had songs like: NY State of Mind, we will survive, ghetto prisoners and undying love on it. It doesn't get more "Nas" than that. Nas is like wasn't the only Nas-esque song that defined that album, as your article seems to suggest.

    But then again, your critique just shows you hold him to a higher standard than his peers, which is a good thing.

    • http://tonymoreaux781.bandcamp.com/album/had-you-at-hello-ep malmoeone3

      That album def had some other joints. I always said you could pull joints from each album and make a pretty dope album. I always hated when ppl said only Preemo can give this dude joints when he clearly makes dope joints with Large Pro, Salam Remi, and anyone from Illmatic. I think dude is really scared of just being pigeon holed into that sound when he should just accept it and run with it. It may not bring him money in sales, but he can tour off of that sound, go down in history, write a book since he likes to read so much and open a few businesses. There's still time but like someone else said, "he doesn't know what he wants".

  • StudentOfTheGame

    I'm 21 years old from Chicago, Illinois. I love hip hop. I didnt grow up with Nas. Actually i really didnt grow up with a rapper that i loved and worshipped, i just enjoyed the stuff on the radio, wayne, eminem, whatever play i enjoyed, i really didnt listen to the lyrics or debated who was the best. I started trying to learn who was who when i was going on 13 and my cousin turned me on to Slim Shady, old Jay-Z, Wu-Tang. I still didnt have a rapper in my teenage years that was my go-to guy, i listened to what was hot until Drake came out and he was alright, then after that i was seeing a whole slew of new guys pop up. Wale, Big Sean, J Cole. Eventually i heard Kendrick Lamar Overly Dedicated and i was like YESSS this is my guy.

    Then my cousin turned me to Nas because i listened to Life is Good and i wondered why people didnt like his beat selection or whatever. I enjoyed the story telling, and i didnt see him as a flawed rapper. THEN my cousin blessed me with his illmatic album from his stash and i popped in a CD player i had put away (who uses CD players nowadays?) and long story short, i was like WOOOOOOOW, i see why people love this dude. Shit was dope af. Then i downloaded everything Nas i can find, there we're some albums i liked more thankothers, (i didnt like Nastradamus) some songs here and there i was like WTF is this. But i still never fully understood why people hated on dude. I AM is sick af, he delivered. I understand why people think illmatic is a better product, but the with all the pressure he had on him after it with the follow up, i loved it.

    Thats my experience with Nas, I'm sure some of y'all dont care and wonder why I'm even writing this( Writing this because of the 20 years after illmatic.) I just love Rap and I'd thought i share it and show the "old heads" that 20 somethings from chicago listen to Chief Keef and Rich Homie and disregard the legends in the game. Thanks and have a good night.

  • soulonice_

    If I Am didn't leak and he released this version instead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9RrV8WMuYQ#aid=P9PD-gVtZxA you're looking at 3 maybe classic or close to classic records. And maybe you don't get Stillmatic, Ether, Takeover, and Super Ugly if this version of the album dropped. And I feel like if Nas had the production team Jay had people wouldn't be so critical of his catalog.

    • http://peopleofwalmart.com YoMayka

      thats just some guys mixtape

      • soulonice_

        I know, but the way I Am was released wasn't the way Nas wanted it released. If it was somewhat released like this we're talkin about a way better album. Most of it got leaked and he had to go with another plan.

  • Guest

    Great article!
    I feel as if I can somehow begin to relate. Being that 2dbz is my "The Source" where I come to for about 60% of my music knowledge, and Fashawn is my favorite artist who I hope does not stray off his own path.

  • Rodmatic

    One of the best hip hop articles i've read.
    Nas has been my favorite since i was able to grasp the concept of hip hop as a child, and this explains the struggle of a true poet who speaks realness through song but couldn't get it to reach the masses as it should have.

  • http://www.hiphop4life.fr/ Hip-Hop 4 Life

    Great article, I love when journalists give their personal feelings, not just general shit.
    100% agree with you, the question is : is it possible to achieve mainstream success without compromise ?
    Em, Nas, Mobb Deep, all the same story... Some exceptions remain like Outkast but they stop making music !

    I also deeply think that Nas could have been the greatest MC of all time but he's not as great artistically and musically as he's lyrically, you say "beat retarted" but that's deeper than that, he just hasn't a strong artistic vision and I think all the beatmakers around him during the Illmatic era are also strongly responsible for the success of it.

  • Idiotbrain

    Great piece. I definitely want to see him and Premo make that record. Also, I'd love to hear what he could do gettin in the studio with TDE...

  • DUCEWayne

    Nas will always be one of if not thee greatest to me. People say It Was Written wasn't hot but he had som many dope gems on there. Not one song I had to skip. And people are superquick to $#!T on I Am And Nastradamas, but remember, at that period of time, he had so much material recorded, there were rumblings of packaging them as a double CD...until the bootlegers got a hold of it. If the songs on the Lost Tapes (Blaze a 50, Drunk By Myself) had made it to I An and Nastradamas, there would be no question to him being the greatest ever. Yeah, he has the wack beat syndrome (Ether's beat wasnt even that hot), but lyrically, most rapper couldnt tie his shoes. Even Jay knows that. Glad to see NAs is still relevant and making business moves but staying true tim himself. Good Read too!

  • Lodidodida

    I pretty much wholly disagree with you, because as great as illmatic was, Nas' songwriting skills vastly improved on his subsequent albums

  • tictac

    Man, the whole teacher copying the student thing was on point.
    Jay Z giving nas a hard snuffing was SO ESSENTIAL, or we'd see nas digging his own grave with where he was heading.

    Great article you have here sir,
    Good read.

  • willj

    "I always thought Jay Z won the battle because he got what he wanted out of Nas, to shred the conformist mainstream image and reclaim his lofty perch as the supreme street poet."

    I hope you one day get to ask Jay-Z if that was his intent. Cause damn that's a deep way to look at it.

    Much respect for the words here. Glad to see 2DB giving writers some space to breathe.

  • OE

    Man this was beautiful! awesome review! and everything you touched on i felt truth in it all! Keep up the good work Andreas!!

  • Guest