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#7 Nas


Lyrics 9

“That buck that bought a bottle coulda struck the lotto” the epitome of being wise beyond your years, the rebel of the street corner has always spit knowledge whether it was well received or not. In recent years he’s maintained this status as an elite lyricist, with albums like Life is Good and even more notably the Untitled and Hip Hop is Dead albums before that, which have given the art form a shot in the arm as far as lyricism is concerned.

Delivery 10

“We listen to Stevie, it sounded like Heavy Metal fans, spinnin records backwards of AC/DC” Nas can flow with the best of em, and although it was four years ago now the Life Is Good album makes that very evident. Records like You Wouldn’t Understand, Stay, A Queens Story show even with age he’s still rapping like he’s 20 with a chipped tooth, and there’s no reason to think this won’t continue on his scheduled album sometime in 2016.

Structure/Songwriting 8

"Crippled dope fiend in wheelchairs stare, vision blurry, cause deep in their minds is hidden stories, bet he a mirror image of that 70's era he's finished, for the rest of his life, until he fades out, the liquor store workers miss him but then it plays out, so many ways out the hood but no signs say out." and of course "teach the girls karate, school your sons, not to hate but to stay awake, cause the scars a razor makes is nothin in comparison, to the gas left on this whole mass, if we don't get it controlled fast, might as well be laughing with Malcolm X assassin as we die slow, perishing, brain dead from an Ericcson, words are the medicine, two teaspoons for goons, a cup of it for those thuggin it, you sing the tune" Nas never got enough credit for the quality records he put out throughout his career, even on albums that were panned by critics, that held records like Project Windows, Undying Love, War, and Nobody Else In The Room just to name a few. He never was able to have the smash hits his contemporary in Jay Z was able to accumulate with relative ease, yet all the same he operated in another lane that in some ways garnered him more respect. His recent album Life Is Good was cohesive storytelling relating to his maturation into adulthood, records Daughters and Bye Baby exemplifying this the most, yet time will tell if he’ll be able to continue to find meaningful content to put beneath his words and delivery moving forward.

Content/Meaning 9

“It was my dream for my queen to put my thing on and ride, even Martin Luther King had a fling on the side” As stated before Nas has always made music with a variety of meaning, and in fact his split personality (or well roundedness) in essence makes his content that much more profound. Yes the same artist that gave us You Owe Me gave us Black Girl Lost, and Braveheart Party is on the same album as One Mic, yet that’s in fact what makes Nas relatable; the idea that he’s not preaching but instead he’s just giving us game. Overall any artist that has the wherewithal to put out the content on the Untitled album is deserving of praise, especially when Kendrick has been revered for doing mostly the same thing.

Self Made 9

"Baby moms thought I was too quiet, couldn't stand it, she hit the streets later on she hitting the sheets, with a rapper who wanted me on his songs, thinking he strong, I taught her how to watch for cars who might follow, street shit that I know, her weakness would shine yo, but that's her, I ain't mad baby, made me stronger, and now I get my paper longer, Illmatic I was boss, It Was Written I flossed, one of the most creative LPs ever to hit stores." Nas has always stood on his own, no matter his major label representation and later even signing under his former nemesis in Jay Z, as a man and an artist Nas is guided by his own creative license. With that in mind he’s worked with a bevy of talented producers, with his iconic debut full of production from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Large Professor.

Image/Branding 9

“Then it all just hit me, see the broads and bentleys is nothing, less my ****** spend it all with me.” Nas is as thorough as they come, unlike some of his contemporaries who may have traded their souls for riches, Nas is a real one, and every part of his identity reflects that. Even his interviews capture a man who stands out from the rest, far more cool, calm, and collected than 99% of his peers who look desperate for attention. Instead he lets his work do the talking for him, and while that’s always garnered him great respect, in recent times its paid off with ad placements with Hennessy and even Ghostbusters (time will tell if the latter is a good look however, as at the moment it doesn’t seem to really make sense).

Sales 8

"First rapper to bring a platinum plaque back to the projects, but you still wanna hate, be my guest, I suggest..." You can hate em but understand that Nas has always sold respectably, with Gold and Platinum status all the way up and down his resume, and some albums (It Was Written and I Am…) even going double. His most recent album Life Is Good struggled to go Gold however, and that was even with critical praise that far surpassed his previous works (Untitled and Streets Disciple were not particularly well received but went Gold and Platinum respectively). It should be noted that Jay’s latest offerings haven’t struggled to go Platinum at all, thus begging the question if in 2016 he’s still as much of a household name.

Ability to Rock an Instrumental at a Radio Station 9

"Saviore Faire, radiate, conscious clear, I'm about to have a monstrous year..." Of course Nas can rock an instrumental, even if he’s less likely to flex on us. In his early years his style was prime for a radio instrumental, such as his Live at the BBQ bars or Illmatic verses. Yet nowadays he’s appropriately more concerned with writing songs, although when inspired there’s no doubt he can do random instrumentals justice as well.

Ability to Fuck Up a Rewind Button 10

“Say a prayer for do we have to, you ain’t right (Wright) Jeremiah Wrong pastor in love with a slave master, sincerely yours USA’s most brave rapper, Jesse car jacker, uncle tom kidnapper” Nas says some shit… whether you agree or disagree with what he says…. Nas has lyrics that make you say “take that shit back…. I definitely need to that hear that again.” Has always been good for that and always will be, Nas and the Rewind button are forever connected in Hip Hop.

Longevity 10

“I wonder what he saw, the limoes, movies, and tours, did he die in vain and represent for the cause, now I put his name on everything I’m involved, and that’s the game, ya’ll can’t relate fuck ya’ll (ill will)” Nas may not be platinum status anymore, but he’ll forever be respected by anyone who holds the art form in high regard. He’s a living legend already, and for the impact he’s made on Hip Hop those who know better will make sure his name goes on to live forever.

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