The Definitive Nas Song List (Part 3) #25-1

#25. Deja Vu – It’s ironic that this song is titled “Deja Vu”, because you’ll probably have deja vu when you listen to Nas opening verse on the song “Verbal Intercourse” by Raekwon…

#24. Daughters – One of the side effects of rap being around for 30 plus years is you start to breech topics you never thought would ever be spoken on. This is a song about raising a teenage daughter… In all my years of listening to hip hop, this was a first for me. That being said, I love that this song exist, and there’s no better person to deliver this song then “Nasty” Nas himself. He probably regrets having that “nickname” now.

#23. Affirmative Action ft. The Firm – The group “The Firm” was once a “super group” in the late 90’s made up of Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, and Cormega/Nature. This was their first, and best song as a group IMO. The way AZ starts this track off “hot”, might be the “highlight” for me. The instrumental on this track is simple (its sounds like a ringing bell), but the way everything ebbs and flows throughout the entire track is perfect. The words “nineties”, and “grimy” both come to mind.

#22. Get Down – It’s nice to hear a James Brown sample here. James Brown and hip hop go together like peanut butter and jelly. I like the snippet at the end of this song. “If this is how we get down, how are we supposed to get up?”. Preach!…

#21. Surviving the Times – What is the one topic all rappers discuss at some point in their rap career? An “origin story”, some MC’s might touch on it barely. Others like Nas go into great detail. This song almost has too many details. He throws a little “shade” at Russell Simmons, but for the most part Nas is “straight business” with this track…

#20. Take It In Blood – This track samples the voice of the legendary rap pioneer Kool Keith. For that reason alone this song deserves to be in the top 20…

 #19. One Love – Nas debut album “Illmatic” had some of the best music producers in rap history on it. Q Tip is one of those aforementioned producers, and is responsible for this xylophone inspired beat you hear throughout this song. Nas raps this one like hes writing a letter to one of his “home boyz” in prison. He carry’s on a one sided dialogue throughout the entire song, and is only occasionally interrupted by Q Tip singing out “one love” on the hook. Making a rap song with this “premise” isn’t easy, and I applaud Nas for tackling this “real” life topic with ease.

#18. Rewind – The length of a song is generally a good indicator of a song’s importance, but the same can’t be said when it comes to Nas music catalog … “Stillmatic (intro)”, “Queens Get The Money”, and this song barley scratch the 2 minute mark, and yet they’re all “vital” tracks that help solidify Nas overall career… I guess what i’m trying to say is don’t press the “skip button” when your listening to a Nas album because you never know when you might run across a “deceptively” great song …

#17. Represent – It seems like every list I write has at least one track that “sticks out” to me as being “criminally underrated”. This is that song for me. From the DJ Premier beat, to the Nas verses, and even hook. Literally every aspect of this song is underrated!.. okay the hook was kinda garbage, but I stand by everything else I said…

#16. I Gave You Power – In this song Nas rap’s from the perspective of being an actual gun. Are you with me so far?… If you know Nas, this is a very “Nas” thing to do. No rapper is more creative with rap topic’s then this man. If you don’t believe me just scroll up and down this list for proof…

 #15. Halftime – “My style switches like a faggot, but I’m not bisexual I’m a intellectual…”. I don’t think even Nas could get away with a “line” like this nowadays… Whomever produced this track must of had “Jingle Bells” in heavy rotation in the studio to concock an instrumental like this one. Illmatic in general sounded very different from the other rap albums of it’s era…

#14. Book of Rhymes – A crazy original track that is intentionally imperfect, and perfect at the same time. The song is “sloppy” by design which intern makes this song a very endearing….

#13. Made you Look – Most rap fans can agree that Nas is the one rapper who never went “pop” our “sold out”. That’s not to say that he didn’t make some “commercial” records in his day. This song is definitely a commercial attempt. By Nas standards this song is very simple. That’s not a bad thing per se, just and observation I made while writing this on the toilet…

#12. Got Ur Self A… – It’s always good sign when you re-listen to a song years later, and you are still able to recite 90% of the lyrics. That was my experience with this track. If the hook was better it would’ve probably of been in my “top 5” for sure…  

#11. Hip Hop is Dead ft. Will.i.am – What rapper in their right mind would use the same exact sample twice? Nas did this when he made “Hip Hop is Dead”. It turned out that the second time was “the charm”, as this would turn out to be one the “biggest” tracks of his entire career. Who’s more hip hop than Nas? The answer… NO ONE!…

#10. It Ain’t Hard to Tell – This song is smooth as hell. Nas wasn’t trying to prove a thing on this jam. A tight flow, lyrics, and beat make this song feel smoother than a baby’s ass…

#9. Life’s A Bitch ft. AZ – This is easily the best “hook” of any Nas song ever! It must suck to have the “biggest” record of your career be on someone else’s album. Look at the bright side, at least AZ got a record deal out of this…

#8. The World is Yours – Every Nas album has at least one uplifting song on the track listing. On Illmatic, this was the track. This song is also notable for “birthing” the “Dead Presidents II”, and “Thief’s Theme” samples. (Jay-Z voice) “Google’s your friend bruh”…

#7. If I Ruled the World (Imagine That) ft. Lauryn Hill – Hip hop’s greatest vocalist of all time + hip hop’s greatest lyricist of all time = hip hop classic…

#6. The Message – Nas has to hold the record for “sampling” your own songs. He did it on this song, but I can think of at least a hand full of other Nas songs where he “samples” himself. It’s the music equivalent of  “inbreeding”. It feels wrong and unnatural! That being said, I love this song…

#5. Hate Me Now ft. Puff Daddy – If its possible for a “hype man” to be in his “prime”, this is that moment for Puff Daddy. Notorious B.I.G had died a few years prior, and this made Puffy really have to raise his “game”. Puff Daddy was a big driving force in making this a “hit” record. Oh, and Nas was pretty good on this song as well…

#4. One Mic – This would have to be the most “atmospheric” hip hop track of all time! Nas brings “the streets” to the listener. From the sounds of police sirens to a “fiend” dropping his beer bottle, this song feels like a living and breathing “entity”. This song is an “experience” first and foremost…

#3. Ether – God… What is something “new” i can say about “Ether”?…. The beat on this song sounds “uninspired”… I wonder if anyone’s ever mentioned that before? …”Ether” was a definite “moment” in hip hop. There’s no denying that…

#2. Nas is Like – I love hip hop “sample loop’s”! These are the “purest” type’s of hip hop beats to me. If a rapper decides to rap on “loop” that usually means you can expect a “A+” effort lyrically. That is defiantly the case here, since I would argue that this is the “most lyrical” song from the “most lyrical” lyricist ever. Hooking up with DJ Premier again was  definitely a “good look”…

#1. N.Y. State of Mind – This is the definitive Nas “showcase”! You could make the argument that Nas’s “first impression” (this song), was the best “impression” of his entire career. This wasn’t so much a rap “song” as it was a rap “résumé” to hip hop fans, and rappers of the time period. Nas let it be known that the “bar had been risen”, and that this was the new “standard” that all MC’s of the Mid 90’s should be measured by. Some might call it beginners luck, but you have to admire how Nas came out firing “on all cylinders” with this one…


Definitive Nas Song List Part 1: https://hiphopwontstop.blog/2017/09/28/the-definitive-nas-song-list-part-1-75-51/

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