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Rap - Released April 11, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Rap - Released April 19, 1994 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rap - Released January 1, 2012 | Def Jam Recordings

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
That's Nas' ex-wife Kelis' wedding dress on the cover: she's a fellow recording artist, the two have a kid together, and she wasn't consulted about the album cover or the album itself. Life Is Good is that kind of album, and for the moment, Nas is that kind of guy. He may have recorded some game-changing albums early on, and his recent collaboration with Damian Marley, Distant Relatives, was vital as well, but this puff-chested bitch session is a completely different animal, coming off as Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear, although this one prefers playing to radio over playing it as landmark disc, and prefers swaggering over staying on topic. Know that he's willing to take all the credit for his own Illmatic here, too, boasting that he's the best in the game before shooting insults at easy targets and his ex-wife/father-of-his-children, who never should have left because as "Roses" states, "I'm an ass magnet." This trashing without rebuttal is worth arguing about, and snarky and vicious aren't admirable qualities, so the best way to approach this unfiltered carpet bombing of love and marriage is thinking about how heartbreak can make a man go cold (808s & Heartbreak) or in this case, irresponsibly start fires. Well-funded fires, too, as Swizz Beatz's "On to the Next One" soundalike "Summer On Smash" gives Nas a bona fide club killer, and when it comes to headlines, that's the late Amy Winehouse on "Cherry Wine" in one of her last recordings -- on a track as intoxicating as its namesake. Don't let that vicious guy on the cover know that a woman also assists on the album's other truly rich moment, with Mary J. Blige in top form on "Reach Out," while Rick Ross winds up the album's top thug thanks to "Accident Murderers," a majestic street track with No I.D. on production and a reference to Illmatic's Jerome character, even when bringing that one up is sticky, seeing as Life Is Good isn't even in the same ballpark. Still, Nas doesn't seem to care, putting a Jim Jones-styled blast of boss talk called "Nasty" on the same album he pulls the heartstrings on with the well-written personal number "Daughters," but he sells it all, delivering everything here as if its classic status was assured and will never fall into an embarrassment trap, as long as the cover art isn't brought into the debate. If the game needed Illmatic, this is the one Nas needed to get out of his system, acting as a clearinghouse for all venom and bile, plus some gloss that doesn't fit but needed to go as well. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rap - Released January 1, 2012 | Def Jam Recordings

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
That's Nas' ex-wife Kelis' wedding dress on the cover: she's a fellow recording artist, the two have a kid together, and she wasn't consulted about the album cover or the album itself. Life Is Good is that kind of album, and for the moment, Nas is that kind of guy. He may have recorded some game-changing albums early on, and his recent collaboration with Damian Marley, Distant Relatives, was vital as well, but this puff-chested bitch session is a completely different animal, coming off as Marvin Gaye's Here, My Dear, although this one prefers playing to radio over playing it as landmark disc, and prefers swaggering over staying on topic. Know that he's willing to take all the credit for his own Illmatic here, too, boasting that he's the best in the game before shooting insults at easy targets and his ex-wife/father-of-his-children, who never should have left because as "Roses" states, "I'm an ass magnet." This trashing without rebuttal is worth arguing about, and snarky and vicious aren't admirable qualities, so the best way to approach this unfiltered carpet bombing of love and marriage is thinking about how heartbreak can make a man go cold (808s & Heartbreak) or in this case, irresponsibly start fires. Well-funded fires, too, as Swizz Beatz's "On to the Next One" soundalike "Summer On Smash" gives Nas a bona fide club killer, and when it comes to headlines, that's the late Amy Winehouse on "Cherry Wine" in one of her last recordings -- on a track as intoxicating as its namesake. Don't let that vicious guy on the cover know that a woman also assists on the album's other truly rich moment, with Mary J. Blige in top form on "Reach Out," while Rick Ross winds up the album's top thug thanks to "Accident Murderers," a majestic street track with No I.D. on production and a reference to Illmatic's Jerome character, even when bringing that one up is sticky, seeing as Life Is Good isn't even in the same ballpark. Still, Nas doesn't seem to care, putting a Jim Jones-styled blast of boss talk called "Nasty" on the same album he pulls the heartstrings on with the well-written personal number "Daughters," but he sells it all, delivering everything here as if its classic status was assured and will never fall into an embarrassment trap, as long as the cover art isn't brought into the debate. If the game needed Illmatic, this is the one Nas needed to get out of his system, acting as a clearinghouse for all venom and bile, plus some gloss that doesn't fit but needed to go as well. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Rap - Released August 21, 2020 | Mass Appeal

Nas has been waiting for his moment. After the heavy criticism of his last album produced by Kanye West, Nasir, he has needed to honour his status as an American rap legend. This time around, he has recruited another producer, a protege of Kanye West: Hit-Boy, known of course for his work with his boss, but also with Jay-Z, A$AP Rocky and Beyonce. On King’s Disease, his thirteenth album, Nas has returned to something fundamentally more down-to-earth, almost as if he has something to excuse himself for. At 46 years old, the Queensbridge native has released 13 tracks that raise questions of what steps need to be taken, life’s low points and past mistakes. It is never too late. Nas has sometimes been reproached for being bogged down with a dated sound, for being musically stubborn. This criticism is no longer valid since his last several album including this one. We can hear, for example, the marriage of his deep voice with that of the prince of drill Lil Durk (on Til The War Is Won), or experimentation with some extremely effective trap beats (27 Summers). But Nas is also a product of the 1990s, and continues to remind us of this time, notably by reuniting the members of his old group The Firm (AZ and Foxy Brown) as well as his great childhood friend Cormega on the track Full Circle. Such an event reuniting the four rappers should bring with it a monumental storm, but it is ultimately the cold atmosphere which comes out on top. King’s Disease is not pretentious: it’s real and true. True in its intention which can be summarised as the denunciation of a capitalist downward spiral and its impact on the individual. It is also true in terms of its balance between eras and the album’s protagonists. It’s the return of a very good Nas to the great delight of rap aesthetes. © Brice Miclet/Qobuz
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Rap - Released July 1, 1996 | Columbia

It would be virtually impossible to follow an earthquake like Nas's début album Illmatic. After his close look at the trials and tribulations of his Queensbridge crew across nine dense pieces, the prodigy Nas would become a global megastar at the age of just 22. By taking on producers from Trackmasters and Dr. Dre, Nas has made his music more accessible and less codified. Mixing his street pedigree with a noirish stroytelling and social commentary on the conditions of African-Americans, the Queensbridge rapper found a balance between purism and pop culture. With the huge success of “If I Ruled The World” alongside a Lauryn Hill on perfect form, “It Was Written” saw Nasir Jones become the very model of an American rapper in the eyes of the world. His stories are always pertinent and piercing, full of indelible images. In collaboration with friends like Mobb Deep, Live Squad, AZ and Cormega, Nasir Jones's precision and lucidity remain untouchable, albeit a little diluted in comparison to his first work. With strong points like “The Message”, “Take It In Blood” or “I Gave You Power”, Nas has become an unequalled voice with a potent message, a veritable hero of a whole musical genre.  © Aurélien Chapuis/ Qobuz  
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Rap - Released July 19, 2019 | Mass Appeal Records

In 2002, Nas released The Lost Tapes, a compilation of unpublished material recorded between 1998 and 2001 for his albums I Am… (1999) and Stillmatic (2001) which were rejected. The twelve tracks, far from being generic B-sides, were a great remind of the Queensbridge rapper’s caliber when it comes to deadly punchlines and unpredictable flow. Seventeen years later, The Lost Tapes 2 brings out other gems, recorded during the time of albums Hip Hop Is Dead (2006), Untitled (2008), Life Is Good (2012) and Nasir (2018). Def Jam Records planned to publish this second record in 2010 but a conflict opposing the rapper to his record label sent the tapes to the storage room… Summer of 2019, the safe is reopened, and there are some gems, produced by Pharrel, RZA, Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, No I.D or even Pete Rock. A 5 star cast – more senior than junior- which makes this compilation a must have and gives it a very smooth old-school feeling. The eclecticism in the material, whether that be sounds or texts, doesn’t hamper the flow of the album. Nas’ voice is recognizable as always, and that helps to gel everything together. But his fans know that even from the start, with his masterful first album Illmatic (1994), the New Yorker liked to surround himself with a flurry of magicians (MC Serch, Faith N., DJ Premier, L.E.S., Pete Rock, Large Professor, Q-Tip, Rockwilder, Vibesmen, Nick Fury et Marley Marl took part in Illmatic) without ever losing sight of his own personality. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rap - Released June 15, 2018 | Mass Appeal - NAS

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After an absence of six years, Nasir Jones returns with a new album produced by Kanye West, as part of the June 2018 G.O.O.D Music salvo. Like recent efforts from Pusha T, Kanye and Kid Cudi before him, Nas’s NASIR project contains seven tracks, like seven deadly sins, each given a laconic treatment by the bard of Queensbridge. Produced and polished in Wyoming, like the rest of the series, this album is full of concision, instinct, and urgency. In the introduction, this is Nas parcelled-out, anti-conformist and skeptical, with Red Army Choirs, the mogul Puff Daddy and the angelic voice of 070 Shake. Over a stunning loop by  Slick Rick, he paints police violence with little impressionist brushstrokes on Cops Shot the Kid with Kanye in tow. Later he works on his excesses, follies and delusions of grandeur on White Label and Bonjour. But it's when he brings in The Dream on Adam and Eve and above all Everything, where Nas hits a more personal note. Somewhere between social commentary, cultural intervention and lucid debate, Nas takes on his own legend, but without necessarily facing up to his faults, as his best enemy Jay-Z did on 4:44. Nasir Jones is trying to have a clear-out, to focus on what's essential, finding both his gift and his curse dulled by the simple things in life. Simple Things is the conclusion of a journey that has been at once public and secret. Throughout its meandering course, Kanye West offers the best possible environment, nestled between classicism and art brut. Nas is very much his own equal here, without compromising his style: people demand a lot of his genius but above all, he remains human.  ©Aurélien Chapuis / Qobuz 
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Rap - Released March 5, 1999 | Columbia

After the juvenile observer and the gangster mogul, Nas needed a new challenge for his third album. Now a muse for an uncompromisingly globalised rap, an heir to both Rakim and Whodini, Nas was hailed and booed in equal measure for his choices and his position. His career ran into trouble after his group The Firm proved a commercial and critical flop; as did his collaboration with Cormega, who was his main influence and link to the streets; and his ill-fated work with Dr. Dre. With this new, hotly-anticipated album, Nas aimed to re-impose himself as a widely-acclaimed genius. Revised and remodelled many times, I am was one one of the first albums to suffer enormously from piracy and successive leaks. Nas threw in the ultimate provocation, appearing on the sleeve as a Pharaoh, and as a Christian martyr with Puff Daddy, commercial rap's great demon of the day, on the controversial "Hate Me Now".But, inviting legends Scarface, DMX and Aliyaah, he survived the decimation of the icons of the day, and paid his respects to 2pac and Biggie on “We Will Survive”. Bearing the cross for his movement, Nas sometimes gets lost in a suit that's too big for him, with some cheap flash from Trackmasters and LES. But alongside these contradictions, we also see a return to good old habits, especially with DJ Premier on the iconic "NY State of Mind Part II" and above all "Nas is Like". As his urban hymns continue to resonate, Nas remains one of the greatest voices of his time.  © Aurélien Chapuis/ Qobuz  
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Rap - Released December 9, 2002 | Columbia

With his return to grace on Stillmatic, Nas became once again an authentic alternative to the jiggy commercial lines of Jay-Z and friends. Concentrating on his music's very identity, a year later Nas would offer a summary of his renewed career with God’s Son. It was above all his fresh collaboration with producer Salaam Remi which would bring a breath of fresh air to the Queensbridge rapper's distinctive lyrics. Making use of marked breakbeats and classic James Brown samples on "Get Down", Apache on the powerful "Made You Look" and Beethoven on "I Can", Salaam Remi distils all of hip-hop culture, from the golden age to reckless melodies. Adding Eminem and Alchemist for a colder image of Queensbridge, the production on God’s Son is the finest on any Nas album since Illmatic. This underlying approach pushes Nas towards a more pared-down writing style, sketching out new standards, new iconic pieces that will be played over and over. To be sure, Nas's lyrical dexterity never fails. It is valued because it is timeless, never falling any passing fad. On "Hey Nas", God’s Son also contains an encounter with Kelis, which would prove fateful in the life and career of Nasir Jones. It's another page in the legendary "Book of Rhymes".  © Aurélien Chapuis/ Qobuz
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Rap - Released April 25, 2014 | Columbia

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Rap - Released April 19, 1994 | Legacy Recordings

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Rap - Released November 2, 2007 | Columbia

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Rap - Released September 24, 2002 | Columbia

Leading up to the release of God's Son, the second new Nas album in less than a year, Ill Will dropped a collection of "lost recordings" -- basically, tracks recorded for I Am and Stillmatic that just didn't make it. Though the liners are stretching it in parts ("these songs are famous for never having been officially released"), they definitely got it right when they said, "No cameos. No hype. No bullsh*t." From a few listens, it's clear most of these weren't bumped because they were low-quality; "Doo Rags," "No Idea's Original," and "Black Zombie" stand up to anything Nas has recorded since the original Illmatic. In fact, they have more in common with his early recordings; there's more of a back-in-the-day, wasn't-it-all-so-simple-then sound to "Doo Rags" and "Poppa Was a Playa," two tracks that definitely wouldn't have fit on the raging Stillmatic. That's certainly no reason not to pick up this one, not just for Nas fans but for hip-hop fans who want to hear some great rhyming with no added features. © John Bush /TiVo
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Rap - Released April 20, 2018 | Mass Appeal Records

There are very few records that can sum up a whole era, define a genre, or make an artist into an icon from the moment they are released. Illmatic is one such album, a miracle and a curse which would define Nas's career. Among the many re-releases to mark its 20th birthday in 2014, Nasir Jones offered a symphonic version of his classic. First released as a documentary with PBS, this single performance is now available on CD, vinyl and streaming, to mark Record Day 2018. Recorded at the Kennedy Center, a few blocks from the White House, this eagerly-awaited concert offers an epic, grandiloquent vision of productions from DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip or Large Pro. The National Symphony Orchestra interprets each and every sample, every drumbeat, to bring fresh life and a unique resonance to the work. The new arrangements add a cinematic quality to Nas's vivacious writing, full of colourful characters and stories within stories.  The Queensbridge rapper's performance is precise on every single line, in spite of the storm of strings and wind that blows around him. Special mention must go to the baroque opera "NY State of Mind", but also to the soaring vibraphone on "One Love", and the triumphant brass on the Jacksonian finale "It Ain't Hard to Tell". A successful celebration.  © Aurélien Chapuis/ Qobuz
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Rap - Released November 29, 2004 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

Ten years deep in the rap game, Nas unveiled Street's Disciple, an indulgent album that sprawls across two discs, freewheeling through a dizzying array of ace productions and thoughtful raps. The album is very much a continuation of its predecessor, God's Son: both helmed primarily by producers Salaam Remi and Chucky Thompson, both uncompromising personal statements that make few concessions to the pop market, and both undoubtedly fascinating, if overindulgent. The difference is, Street's Disciple goes a step further, indulging all the more in the creative whims of Nas. And, with the exception of some first-disc throwaways, the result is nothing short of astounding, especially if you've followed Nas over the course of his first decade. Catchy hooks are few and far between here, granted, with most of the songs crafted as if they were freestyle raps. This works, though, because Nas benefits from outstanding productions, a peerless rap style, and an interesting back-story. The 25 productions here are all courtesy of longtime Nas collaborators Salaam Remi, Chucky Thompson, and L.E.S., with only a couple exceptions (Nas produces a couple himself). These guys know Nas better than anyone, and they deliver the goods: hardcore beats for the streets, usually laced with an inventive sample for a hook effect. These riffs offer Nas ample room to let loose, and he does precisely that on one track after another, often touching upon a specific theme yet doing so in a loose, free-associative manner that highlights his talent for wordplay and storytelling. Within his raps, Nas often mines his own past, present, and future: for instance, he touches upon his heritage ("Bridging the Gap"), his impending marriage ("Getting Married"), his eventual death ("Live Now"), his influences ("U.B.R."), his most memorable female conquests ("Remember the Times"). All of this amounts to a lavish album sure to dazzle true hip-hop heads, who will find much to admire and study here, from the especially deep and twisted raps to the sample-rich productions. On the other hand, all of this also amounts to an album that might prove somewhat impenetrable to those who aren't already attuned to the legacy of Nas. Either way, Street's Disciple is another key album in that ongoing legacy, further evidence that Nas is back on track after falling off during the late '90s with I Am and Nastradamus. It's not a perfect album -- it's far too indulgent for that -- and would have been stronger as a single disc, but its ambitious sprawl makes for a powerful statement that Nas disciples will surely savor. © Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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Rap - Released August 21, 2020 | Mass Appeal

Nas is less-hemmed-in artistically on the follow-up to the compromised, hastily created Nasir. This time, he works closely with Hit-Boy, who either produces or co-produces each track. Despite having contributed heavily to contemporaneous LPs by Tee Grizzley and Big Sean, among other high-profile cuts issued around the turn of the 2020s, Hit-Boy evidently isn't spread as thin as executive Nasir producer Kanye West. Over these beats from Hit-Boy and his associates -- low profile and tightly coiled on the balling "27 Summers," airy yet regal on the proud "Ultra Black," elegant-turned-stark on energizer "The Cure" -- Nas is more ruminative and measured, like he's found his stride again. Going strictly by the conviction and feeling in each line, King's Disease is the MC's best work since 2008. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Rap - Released November 6, 2007 | Columbia

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Rap - Released April 6, 1999 | Columbia

After the juvenile observer and the gangster mogul, Nas needed a new challenge for his third album. Now a muse for an uncompromisingly globalised rap, an heir to both Rakim and Whodini, Nas was hailed and booed in equal measure for his choices and his position. His career ran into trouble after his group The Firm proved a commercial and critical flop; as did his collaboration with Cormega, who was his main influence and link to the streets; and his ill-fated work with Dr. Dre. With this new, hotly-anticipated album, Nas aimed to re-impose himself as a widely-acclaimed genius. Revised and remodelled many times, I am was one one of the first albums to suffer enormously from piracy and successive leaks. Nas threw in the ultimate provocation, appearing on the sleeve as a Pharaoh, and as a Christian martyr with Puff Daddy, commercial rap's great demon of the day, on the controversial "Hate Me Now".But, inviting legends Scarface, DMX and Aliyaah, he survived the decimation of the icons of the day, and paid his respects to 2pac and Biggie on “We Will Survive”. Bearing the cross for his movement, Nas sometimes gets lost in a suit that's too big for him, with some cheap flash from Trackmasters and LES. But alongside these contradictions, we also see a return to good old habits, especially with DJ Premier on the iconic "NY State of Mind Part II" and above all "Nas is Like". As his urban hymns continue to resonate, Nas remains one of the greatest voices of his time.  © Aurélien Chapuis/ Qobuz 
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Nas

Rap - Released January 1, 2008 | Def Jam

Booklet
Never averse to getting the pants of others in a twist, Nas said in 2006 that what developed into this self-titled album was, at the time, titled the six-letter version of the "N" word. The following year, the NAACP buried the five-letter version (along with each variant, as the obituary states) at a Detroit ceremony, replete with a horse-drawn carriage, a casket, and the presence of "hip-hop legend Curtis Blow" [sic], according to the NAACP press release. Whether it is believed that the word was truly placed six feet deep or merely swept beneath the proverbial rug, the word, regardless of its last syllable or the context in which it is placed, still carries a lot of power. Millions of Def Jam marketing dollars could not have ensured as bright a spotlight on their artist. All he had to do was mention the one word as an album title. And from that moment until the album's release, through each leaked track, mixtape, and article tracking the status of the album, more attention was paid to the MC's moves than in the recent past. An album with a proposed title of, say, East Coasta Nastra, would not have been anticipated with nearly as much scrutiny or speculation. Nas uses the "N" word as a mere jumping-off point for his self-titled album, its initial title and final content even more closely related than the title and content of Hip Hop Is Dead. It's his most purposeful album; nearly every verse goes beyond talking trash and recalling exploits to address the change of title, the "N" word, race relations, stereotypes, the long arms and legs of Fox, love for his people and country, and the United States from slave ships through the possibility of a black president. It carries a stern lyrical focus all the way through, including the radio-aimed/Polow-produced anthem "Hero" ("If Nas can't say it, think about these talented kids with new ideas being told what they can and can't spit"), the gleaming "Make the World Go Round" (where a proud Nas, clearly reaching out to a younger crowd, refers to the featured Chris Brown as "the young Mike Jackson"), and the appropriately greasy "Fried Chicken" (a cunning track in which Nas and Busta Rhymes seem to embrace and parody dietary and sexual stereotypes at once). There is as much content here to absorb, to think about, discuss, and debate, as there is within Ice Cube's Death Certificate or anything by Public Enemy or BDP. While it is not a feast from a production standpoint -- the album is not bound to silence those who contend that Nas is not the best selector of beats -- it doesn't have the hastily slapped-together flow of Street's Disciple or Hip Hop Is Dead. A couple tracks might sonically resemble inferior versions of years-old tracks that helped make Nas a hip-hop deity and, nearly ten years after Nas was first accused of selling out, he might still sound a little awkward over radio-friendly productions. But the MC has never made an album as engrossing or as necessary as this one. © Andy Kellman /TiVo