NAS - The Lost Tapes II
straight out the dungeons of rap
Nas’ Lost Tapes I covered basically his career up through the Stillmatic era and was the first official release of some well-known Nas cuts like “Poppa was a Playa” and “Drunk By Myself”. It’s amazing to think that so much time has passed since such a Nas compilation to fill another but alas here we are with the sequel - Lost Tapes II - and it might be even better than Lost Tapes I. It has everything you’d want in a Nas record in my view - unearthed session gold like “Lost Freestyle”, stylized-ass RZA collabs “Tanasia” and “Highly Favored” that sound straight out of the Cuban Linx sessions (even if they’re not? I suspect reportage on this will emerge.). “Who Are You?” is a stunning concept track where Nas’ aging politics are expressed in diatribes against a black yuppie and an older black civil rights activist respectively. Even if you don’t agree with him, Nas turns a phrase. “Queens Wolf” is a brilliant werewolf track concept and it’s hard not to just appreciate how gamely he tackles different writing prompts in his work. “Royalty” is polished R & B hip-pop produced by the Inland Empire’s own Hit-boi; this record has the spectrum of modern Nas sound. “Queensbridge Politics” finds Nas on a stream of consciousness about missing Prodigy of Mobb Deep and wishing he was around; this is the kind of content we hope to get when we crack open our favorite rapper’s lost tapes. “Beautiful Life” seems to be a Life is Good outtake and it’s a stunner in its explicit honesty about his situation.
The truth is modern Nas topics can get that grim that fast and it takes a remarkable MC to make you want to go on those journeys with him anyway. You hear Nas compared with Slick Rick fairly often as they’re both renowned rap story-tellers but Nas paints vignettes in 3 lines whereas Rick’s lines could be line for translated into a story-book: that’s not a knock on either but to say Nas’ enduring mastery of concepts, grimy voice and versatility over both the dustiest and glitziest beats makes even his cutting room floor leavings like this a damn near classic record in my opinion and listen to it before you tell me I’m being reckless with that word.
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers