Artist: Nas Title: "Nas Is Like" From Album: "I Am..."
Release Date: March 2, 1999 Producer: DJ Premier
Aliases: Nasty Nas, Escobar
Affiliations: The Firm, Queensbridge
You and I already know who Nas is so there is no reason to go into all of that, is there?
I was introduced to Nas thanks to Rap City occasionally playing his "The World Is Yours" video. I was impressed, but not enough to buy his debut album Illmatic. As time passed and it became apparent that Nas was dope through his hundreds of guest verses on hot songs I built up the courage to buy It Was Written despite the "If I Ruled The World" video, which was on MTV almost all day everyday. I really liked the album (and still do), so I went back and picked up Illmatic and was both blown away and kicking myself for not buying it sooner. This was in 1996.
Years passed, I wasted some money on The Firm (but I blamed big business for that mess), and finally in March of 1999 I found the single for "Nas Is Like" in my neighborhood Sam Goody, PAID FOR IT (this was 1999), and loved it. Nas was back! And at that time he had never really gone away. Just a month later I went in to pick up Nas' third album I Am and this is what I saw:
HOLY CRAP! ART SCORE: 0/10
Any normal person would pass on an atrocity like that just based on, well everything. Gold, Egyptian, creepy, etc.. But, being a fan (and an idiot) I bought it anyway. I sat in a parking lot near the Tower Records on South Street (in Philly) listening to this album and being disappointed immensely. I instantly knew the ranking (which is still true today):
The album is officially awful (you can find a good review of it by my friend Max here). It is so bad they made an announcement that the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, had declared it a disaster area, and the public rallied together and helped Nas sell over two million copies of his shitty album in the national interest (a definite stab wound to hip hop). Thank goodness this wasn't a double LP like it was originally intended.
So anyway, as sticking with my tradition of too much typing, I can now get to my review of ONE SONG: "Nas Is Like" is good. Done. Actually I think this song is significant in several ways. First, it is one of the few REAL Nas songs that dropped in the six years between It Was Written and Stillmatic. Second, the lyrics are veteran level. I'm not even going to quote the good lines because the whole track is good. Do you want me to just post all the lyrics? Do you? I didn't think so. Finally, the beat is EPIC. DJ Premire tapped his premium resources for this one. He blends in some of his trademark chorus/scratching to keep the track sick, then he pulls from the oddest of sources for the beat: Christmas narration. Primo, you're a genius, and also, where do you dig up this stuff? From what crates? In the end, the final project is DOPE INFINITY, meaning a 7/10 (not his best work but better than almost anyone else could do). So.....COP THIS.
The sample (Primo, you crazy for this one):
And the official Jawn...
If you don't like this one, you're demoted to Private. In fact, get out of my Army.