Review The Artist (36)
Despite his flair for dramatic overreaching, or perhaps because of it, Nas became New York's favorite rapper in the mid-'90s and remained near the top for over a decade. Rivals and time challenged his stay at the top of the New York rap scene — one of the more notable challenges being his bout with Jay-Z in the early 2000s — yet Nas soldiered on, continually changing his style and stepping up his game. Over the years, Nas went from being a young street hustler (Nasty Nas) to a boastful gangsta (Nas Escobar) to a self-proclaimed poet/prophet (Nastradamus) to a re-born encapsulation of himself (the "Stillmatic" Nas). In addition, he worked with countless legendary producers — DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Dr. Dre, Trackmasters, Timbaland — and put Queensbridge back on the map. Keep in mind, however, that Nas attracted a sizable share of critics as well, many of whom called him out for bluffing. After all, Nas often showcased a flair for dramatic overreaching, his ego knowing no limits. For better or worse, Nas was more his own rhetorical construction than a reality, precisely the reason why he was as criticized by his rivals as he was celebrated by his following. Born Nasir Jones, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas dropped out of school in the eighth grade, trading classrooms for the streets of the rough Queensbridge projects, where he learned "street mathematics" and began emulating rappers like Big Daddy Kane, , and Kool G Rap. When he wasn't hustling to survive, he was reading books on African culture, Western civilization, lessons from the Five Percent Nation, scriptures from the Qu'ran, and chapters from the Bible. He eventually hooked up with Main Source in 1991 and laid down a verse on the group's song "Live at the Barbeque." The song became a New York favorite thanks to Nas' blazing rhymes and soon everyone began wondering who he was. A year later, MC Serch of 3rd Bass approached him about contributing a track to the Zebrahead soundtrack. Serch was the soundtrack's executive producer and, like much of New York, had been impressed by "Live at the Barbeque." Nas submitted "Halftime" and the song proved so stunning that Serch made it the soundtrack's lead-off track. Suddenly, everyone began talking about Nas.
Columbia signed him to a major-label contract and all of New York's finest producers wanted to work with him. For the next two years, everyone waited as rumors began to swell. When word hit the street that he was working with DJ Premier, Large Professor, and Pete Rock— New York's top producers in the early '90s — anticipation grew exponentially. Finally, Illmatic hit the streets in April 1994 and didn't disappoint. With only ten tracks, the album wasn't overly long and had virtually no lackluster moments — a flawless album. Nas handled nearly every rhyme and never seemed short on lyrics. Years later, Illmatic is still seen as featuring some of the best lyrics hip-hop ever produced. To call Nas a street poet wasn't an overstatement, but rather a matter of fact. Even if the album didn't storm up the Billboard charts, it garnered the respect of every hip-hop devotee in New York and that was quite an accomplishment, particularly for someone just having reached his twenties. Following up Illmatic wouldn't be an easy task and rather than try and top that album, Nas expanded his approach for It Was Written. Released two years later in 1996, it no doubt had become one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums ever. Here, Nas once again delivered an album illed to the brim with street knowledge, but this time opted to go with different producers — Havoc, Trackmasters, Dr. Dre, L.E.S.— and some radio-friendly pop hooks. The calculated moments worked: "If I Ruled the World" and "Street Dreams" became national hits and expanded Nas' reach outside of New York. With It Was Written, he retained the hip-hop devotees who had championed Illmatic and had won a mass audience at the same time, a rare feat that he would struggle to duplicate in the future. The first sign of Nas' critical downfall came when he joined forces with Dr. Dre to create the Firm , an ambitious supergroup that looked invincible on paper; behind the production boards were Dre and the Trackmasters with Nas, Foxy Brown, Nature, and AZ on the mic.
Surprisingly, the much-heralded album flopped. Listening to the album, it's fairly apparent why. Not only is it an incredibly conceited and brash album, it's also horribly calculated. Following the first setback of his career, Nas took some much-needed time off before returning in 1999 with two albums released only months apart: I Am...The Autobiography and Nastradamus . With these two similar albums, Nas moved further away from the heartfelt and lyrically driven approach of Illmatic in favor of the pop hooks that had made "If I Ruled the World" and "Street Dreams" crossover hits. The second single, "Hate Me Now," bitterly addressed his growing legion of critics. More troubling though, the song featured Puff Daddy, symbolic of the pop-rap style Nas had aligned himself with.
Neither I Am nor Nastradamus proved successful for Nas. Both albums sold
well and produced some impressive hit singles, but these singles — "Hate Me Now," "You Owe Me," "Nas Is Like," and "Nastradamus" — were blatantly targeted at the mass market with their pop-rap tendencies and further alienated Nas' more loyal fan base. Suddenly, Nas was no longer viewed as the prodigy he had been five years earlier and was now seen as a rather generic New York MC. This became perhaps most apparent when he resurfaced in 2001 with the QB Finest album, which sold few copies and generated only one substantial hit, the X-rated club track "Oochie Wally." Even so, Nas had begun to take his career in a new direction with QB Finest, establishing both his own label, Ill Will, and his new posse, Bravehearts. Moreover, he was no longer collaborating with the likes of Timbaland and Puff Daddy; he had returned to the streets to Queensbridge, where he began. One event accelerated Nas' new direction: a cutting dis by Jay-Z on the song "Takeover," which became the most talked about song in New York seemingly overnight. Jay-Z called out Nas for not having put out a "hot" album since Illmatic and also made comments about having sex with Nas' woman. And it didn't help that Jay-Z had indeed claimed the title of New York's favorite MC at the time, giving him ample justification to call out Nas, who had admittedly been slacking since the mid-'90s. Several months after the dis, in December 2001, Nas released the album Stillmatic, the title a reference to his one undeniable masterpiece, Illmatic, which had been released nearly a decade earlier. Stillmatic opened with the song "Ether," a very direct shot at Jay-Z (featuring the chants "f*** Jay-Z "and "I will not lose"), followed by
Nas' most aggressive single ever, "Get Ur Self A..." (produced by ewcomer
Megahertz,one of New York's hottest producers at the time). Both "Ether" and "Get Ur Self A...." re-established Nas' pride among the stickle hip-hop crowd and drove Stillmatic up the Billboard album chart to number five, where it hovered for weeks. In addition, Nas furthered his highly publicized return with dramatic videos for "Get Ur Self A...." and "One Mic" — both of which juxtaposed with "cash, money, hoes" videos of the time, featuring a church rather than a club, for instance — and toured the States, first a headlining tour and then an opening tour for pop-rapper Usher. During summer 2002, Nas infiltrated the pop market, dueting with Brandy and Jennifer Lopez. Ironically, while Nas reclaimed his popularity in 2002, Jay-Z s popularity waned in the wake of the much-discussed bout (though partly because Jay-Z flooded the market with low-quality product). To only further fuel the much-publicized bout between the two rivals, unreleased comebacks circulated as MP3s via file-sharing networks such as Audio Galaxy during 2002: a Nas track called "H to the Omo," which had him questioning Jay-Z s sexuality; and a Jay-Z track called "Super Ugly," which had Jay-Z rapping over the track to "Get Ur Self A..." for the first verse, Dr. Dre's "Bad Intentions" for the second, and also had Jay-Z singing the hook "I got myself a gun."
God's Son, rated a 4 mic album by "The Source", has established that Nas is on the streets for good! Critics went as far enough to say that it picked up where Illmatic left off. God's Son shows the painful side of Nas through song's like, "Dance" and "Heaven", dedicated to his deceased mother, Ann Jones. He takes it further to the streets with "Made You Look" the album's lead single, produced by Salaam Remi. Agressive and new yet with an old school vibe it makes the perfect lead single. He also has something for the kids! Instead of having a gangsta or playa cliche type song for the second single, the much inspiring, I Can, teaches kids, adolcents, and adults lessons on how to live a succesful life. Nas also declares his relationship with, Pop/R&B artist, Kelis in songs like "Hey Nas" and "Mastermind". All around God's Son is a commercial classic! Though it lacks the street grime of Illmatic it is an exqusite follow up album to Stillmatic! - Leo Batista Mulattieri
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It aint hard to tell that ur the hardest | Reviewer: Tshepo mojahi | 6/15/13
There is no real nigga like you since Big L,Pac and Big,I have much love and respect for man you can even take a trip down to hood they'll tell you that NAS is my favourate emcee no doubt about that.F*CK GAY Z all he ever wanted was to be you and thats were he fell off
The best rapper alive | Reviewer: Latrell D Green | 5/29/13
Nas is one of the most talented rappers ive ever heard of for someone that dropped out of school in the 8th grade the way he spits makes it seem like he was a proffessor at a college most people develop their rapping skill over time but it seems like nas came out with a mike in his hand i dont know of anyone who can step to my nigga in a rap battle and come out on top nas is the next pac and big (Rest in peace) i was a big fan of tupac but i heard the one mic song and from there on out i dont go no day without listening to nas NASIR JONES will always be on top fuck the other people who think different and one more thing im from down south but listening to nas makes me wish i was from Queensbridge Newyork NAS is the best mc there is if u feel like he's not then you aint real and you dont know music real niggas they know music.
Hip pop | Reviewer: Kalsdgreat a.k.a (kalu) a nigerian | 5/8/13
More luv 2 Nas the realiest, illiest, truest, gramatical,lyrical, best thug narator, rap gladiator, microphone heayweight, the undisputed champion. Hip-pop is truely dead! But we are still looking up2 people like Nas, K R S1, rahim to ressurect it. Nas, u are truely a living LEGEND!
To me Hipo Hop is ma musiccal | Reviewer: Hussein Damani | 2/1/13
I love the way this dude keep his life style..
He is among those Hip Hop living legendary, Yah its so sad when you guys split up with Kelis..but that how life it is.. On top of dat you are the best Hip Hop ever..Am looking forward your Visit to Tanzania if its not rumous, It would be nice if you kidnap Damian marley and bring him here with you..ahahahah..Junior Tuff Gong mi a sei one love brethren...
book of rhymes | Reviewer: Innocent chidamoyo from Zimbabwe. | 6/16/12
Mr nas i discover u music mid last year listen 2 u song- Hero 4rm my freind mp3 play ,ever since i am crazy about ur music,ur lyrics are powerful,educative.i luv ur style u are so chilled....i am down -Africa ,Zimbabwe.
The Best Rapper Ever! | Reviewer: LefiZ | 10/20/11
Yo'Nas you're the best Hip Hop Star ever listened apart from 2pac n Big R.I.P. Non of your songz is meanin'less just like 2Pac, keep it up. U'll always be the best! and nigga' If I could give one thing in life, I love U 2 d core n U'll always be my favourite one.....
sons of Hiphop 4 life!!! | Reviewer: Rodriguez | 4/19/11
Gotta say Im hiphoppically made by my Big names like Nas,2pac,B.I.G,Jayz,kanye west among others but Nas is tha man i really respect,thank God we such people in this world....Big up man lets make ourselves shine more & preach peace even beyond this earth...tha boy Rodriguez frm Kenya,one love...peace!
NO ONE 2 REPLACE! | Reviewer: Anonymous | 1/19/11
World spin, n a lot of Mc's come n go,but Nas still a # 1 rap artist on my list-that no one will ever pic tht #, low profile life style he live,lyrical gifted,a lot to mention -most impontant is i feel him to tha fullest words can't xplain, tho i was kinda disapponted wen they go separate ways with Kelis,bt in life we can't escape drama..4ever Nas.
Yo' boy James G.G frm Tanzania
My Earthed Dew (Role Model) | Reviewer: Godwin Amedo Yaw (Bostorm) | 10/26/10
Nas is marked as second side genius of 'Hard Core Rap', well furnished with the knowledge of sparking the brain of the down fall ommited fellas. Apart from the two R.A.P monsters 2Pac/B.I.G he has the portentials of both the legends especially pac. Me voting Nas Being the rap king i dont think is doubtful cuz he is doing his best in the spittin of knowledge. Doesn't waste time talkin bout bling bling and gunz. He is straight outta gut. He must be crown king of New York,ny. And non materialised rap.
a true rapper | Reviewer: rubs | 5/14/10
since the birth of rap there hasn't been a rapper like u nas.you don't only entertain but educate,influence your listeners with your poetic lyrics.yiu are the most talented icon in this business.one luv nas,it's your boy rubs from cameroon
I call him my mentor | Reviewer: Joe | 5/6/10
I call him my mentor in most if not all tracks there is just some advice that guides me. My dream is for him to be idolized ,respected and honured like i see him whenever he reaches his purpose in hip hop..."am black and powerful...we wil neva die we are lyk cockroaches"
de best mc alive | Reviewer: kujar | 12/22/09
am ghanaian and became a hip pop fun the late 90s.infact nas has eva remain de truest and realistic hippop lyricist.he spit on almost evry tin from religion,politics,history, de street etc.nas was and still is a great poet full philosophical rhythm and rhymes.he is a legend next 2 pac. he is a soldier and a mentor. he wil always b remembered.
Nas is rap king | Reviewer: Abiri Abdul-Afeez | 10/13/09
Is there any rapper like nas, i dont tink so. I'v wartch people like weezy, young junk and this so called young boys call their self rappers, well is not their fault hip-hop is dead so what do u expect. R.I.P Tupac, B.I.G.
My Favorite Music True Artist in the Buisness | Reviewer: Chelsey | 9/28/09
Im 17yrs old and its a dailey struggle out here for me period.I luv how nas just goes and is way more on top.Hes so gone and he doesnt flash his Ego.He does what he does because thats what he loves to do.If he didnt they he wouldnt be as successful as he is today.He makes it clear as day that anything you want to achieve and its possible.He made it up out of Queens like for real.He had his set backs like we all have.Nas seperates himself from all the background ish.And shows the essence of a MasterMind.
His words are crazy his vocabs.He is the best Poet.A rapper just Entertains.He makes things possible to see further and further.I luv his style but i luv the most he talks about the envirement,Polotics,struggles,kids,sex, he gives u knowledge that no artist gives you he lays it out fully and when he brings it its to the top he brings everything.Theres nothing that he cant spit on.He continues to shine to this day.Soo people out there make it happen.Theres a way out for everybody.He is a story of a living dream.Im an arist as well so it opens my eyes.Luv you Nas
Sending all my luv and support
Yes Nas is still the. | Reviewer: philip | 9/5/09
My name is philip, and am from lagos nigeria, from day one and today till tomorrow that i listen to nas, i still can tell that his is the only, the illest M.c, living, yes his the man next to my heart, sometimes i only wonder what use to give all this fake ass motherfucking copy cats like lil wayne young jezzy, etc to mention few the guts to come out and tell the world that the are the best rappers alive. Looking down my list, i can tell to the skies that this cats ain't even got shit, not even up to M.cs like papoose, the Game, petty pablo etc, but how there them, they think they are deceiving the world? but Nas, i can tell you to hold on to your game, never deviate, 'cos people like us are out here listening to you, and those playing Hip hop,.. one love..
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