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Friday, November 16, 2007

12 Great Gems from Nas

Nas recently released the token "Greatest Hits" album featuring 14 tracks total consisting of 2 bonus tracks ( the unreleased "Surviving the Times" and "Less than an Hour" from Rush Hour 3) as well as 12 of his all-time greatest tracks.

Of course this always brings up the debate over what Nas songs are the best of all time. My personal iPod hosts about 100 or so Nas tracks. While it's tough to choose which are my all time 12 favorite Nas tracks, here's 12 gems (which won't include the ones on his new Greatest Hits).

1) Halftime - This track basically is the set it off jam that got Nas on the map. The halfway point of his debut album, "Illmatic" as well, it offers such clever lyrics as "when I attack there aint an army that can strike back, so i react never calmly on a hype track" and "with more kicks than a baby in her mother's stomach" on a uptempo beat. Classic.

2) Nas is Like -
No clue why this DJ Premier aided track didn't find its way on the Greatest Hits tracklist. It's got one of the illest Nas beats of all time and Nas' usual top notch wordplay. The scratching by Primo is of course unmatched.

3) I Gave You Power -
Nas raps as if he was a gun and it works well. One of the more creative and clever Nas joints there is. "How you like me now, I go's that s--t that moves crowds, making every ghetto foul".

4) Ether - Only because it really served as the big response to Jay-Z's dis on Nas, this one should be amongst the 12. This song hit hard, but it probably didn't make sense to put this on a new album when he's pals with Jigga now, and on his tracks. "Now I keep my eyes on the Judas, with Hawaiin Sophie fame kept my name in his music".

5) No Idea's Original -
This comes off the Lost Tapes where some of Nas' best tracks reside. This one speaks to the idea that every ideas been done before. It also has Old school references and history lessons spit fast by Nas over a classic recognizable rap beat.

6) Poison - One of the better tracks off Stillmatic, which The Source magazine has labeled as a classic album. This one talks about the Poisions of our lives, including ecstasy, coke, prescribed medication, AIDS, religion and just about anything in our society today.

7) Shootouts -
Something about the beat here is just intoxicating, as Nas raps about "Shootouts" in the projects. It's a storytelling type track, and although many critics said this sophomore release album by Nas wasn't up to par, its very underrated.

8) Thugz Mansion - This acoustic version of the 2Pac classic, features of course a posthumous Tupac Shakur, as well as Nas. There's a few versions of this track. On this one Nas has 2 verses. "Im capable of anything, my imagination can give me wings", Nas raps over the acoustic guitar with no bassline or drums. Definitely included on an all-time favorite list, for the inclusion of two of rap's greatest.

9) Live at the BBQ - This has to be on the list. It comes from an Old School classic, the Main Source album "Breaking Atoms" which is tough to find these days. It features not only the debut of Nas here, but also Akineyle's debut and a rap from MC Serch. "Nasty Nas is a rebel to America", raps the young star-to-be, and these lyrics also were sampled on several of his tracks and other rappers' tracks.

10) The Message - the lead track on "It Was Written" featuring the classic Sting sample backing Nas' mega-hot verse. "there's 1 life 1 love so there can only be 1 king". Also features samples from #11 on the list here in the hook.

11) NY State of Mind - One of the grittiest raps and beats all about NYC, Nas' home. Another track off the classic "Illmatic", Nas takes you all through Queensbridge and his early days there. "I never sleep cuz sleep is the cousin of death" "I think of crime when I'm in a New York state mind" raps the rookie rapper on this classic.

12) Undying Love - Classic Nas storytelling off "I Am". Obviously not a true story, but the way it's unfolded for us complete with sound effects and shootout ending, make for a great Nas track. Many may disagree with this one, but the guitar driven beat is also intriguing making for another great Nas track.

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