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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 11, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

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

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 16, 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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 16, 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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 6, 2021 | Mass Appeal

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After 2019's disappointing Kanye West-produced Nasir, legendary Queens rapper Nas bounced back with 2020 album King's Disease. With the benefit of exhilarating Hit-Boy production on every track, Nas was revitalized, and the album scored the rapper his first Grammy, three decades into his craft. Sequel King's Disease II bests its predecessor. Hit-Boy takes on the production once more, but instead of relying mainly on throwback beats and wistful nostalgia, this installment of the series is darker, moodier, and more direct. Hit-Boy's beats are often tense and atmospheric, giving the album a cinematic feel as Nas leans harder into storytelling with his lyricism. He still spends time examining the past, but it's more of a history lesson than a fond remembrance. "Death Row East" is perhaps the best example of this, with lyrics that lay out a vivid personal perspective on the East Coast/West Coast beef of the '90s rap scene, Tupac Shakur's death, and Nas' role in those charged times. The warm soul samples and dusty drum loops of "Store Run" offer an old-school backdrop for reflection on memories both glorious and painful, and "Rare" finds Nas and Hit-Boy matching powers with ambitious beat-switching production and a whirlwind of quickly shifting flows and vocal hooks. King's Disease II takes chances, presenting thoughtful, searching instrumentals like "Nobody" (which features a bold verse from the one and only Lauryn Hill) alongside more modernized trap beats like "40 Side" or "YKTV." The album moves smoothly through its various modes, with rowdy tracks highlighted by strong features from Eminem and A Boogie wit da Hoodie transitioning into more introspective and even softly romantic material on the album's second half. Nas sounds sharp and inspired throughout, giving performances that recall the uncanny brilliance that made his earliest work essential, but also showing he's still capable of taking his art to new places. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/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 on his last several albums, including this one. We can hear, for example, the fusion of his deep voice with that of the prince of drill Lil Durk (on Til The War Is Won), or experimentation with 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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 2, 2021 | Columbia

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released December 18, 2001 | Columbia

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 21, 2020 | Mass Appeal Records

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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 on his last several albums, including this one. We can hear, for example, the fusion of his deep voice with that of the prince of drill Lil Durk (on Til The War Is Won), or experimentation with 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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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 23, 2007 | Def Jam Recordings

Hip Hop Is Dead is not Illmatic. Illmatic stands as one of the most impressive debuts in rap music, and consequently has set up inevitable, and often unfavorable, comparisons with each of Nas' subsequent releases. And so it is practically a given that the two albums in fact do not compare, that the beats, the rhymes, the insight, the flow Mr. Jones had on Illmatic have not been duplicated here, and in all honestly, probably never will. Nas himself seems aware of this -- though he would never admit it -- as throughout the record he references the MCs, the producers, the DJs who made the music what it was and what it is today, many of whom were releasing material in the early '90s, when Nas first made a mark. He himself is one of them. The statement that "hip hop is dead" is clearly meant to be controversial, and was, as rappers and rap fans alike exploded into debate after Nas declared it to be the title of his next album. But it's also a statement that the MC doesn't completely adhere to. He flip-flops between declaring that it has already gone, to warning of its imminent departure, to promising "to carry on tradition," to resurrecting it. But these inconsistencies don't come from contradictions in Nas' beliefs; rather, they stem from the fact that his biggest problem with hip-hop has nothing to do with current talent, but what hip-hop itself has become -- how it's magnified from an art form, from a way the ghetto expressed itself, into a commercialized, corporate entity that Nas himself is part of, something about which he feels more than a little guilty. This is most openly addressed on "Black Republican," which appropriately features an equally guilty (in terms of both improving and commercializing rap music) Jay-Z, who spits out better lines than anything he did on Kingdom Come. The track, which ingeniously samples "Marcia Religiosa" from The Godfather II (a film that, in many ways, parallels Nas' ideas about hip-hop as it deals with the dark side of making money and the problems that befall an overly zealous pursuit of the always crafty American Dream), finds both MCs lamenting the state of the genre while also acknowledging their own participation -- and enjoyment -- of what it's given them. "Black Republican" is an understanding and admittance of hypocrisy, and this sentiment continues in "Not Going Back" and "Carry on Tradition," the latter in which Nas rhymes, "We used to be a ghetto secret/Can't make my mind up if I want that/Or the whole world to peep it." Nas enjoys the fame, but he also realizes that it has hurt the very thing he loves most, his "first wifey." Yet Mr. Jones is not completely blaming himself for hip-hop's demise. In fact, he gives more of that responsibility to those who don't respect it, who don't know its originators, and he takes stabs at them more than at himself (he did release Illmatic, after all). He's also willing to ease up on his criticism and rhyme in more general terms, although it is these tracks (specifically "Still Dreaming" and "Hold Down the Block," but much of the second half of the album as well) on which he loses some of the intensity and intelligence that he displayed earlier in the record. Still, he's able to regain his strength by the end, bringing together the East and West Coast on the Dre-produced "Hustlers," which features a great verse from the Game about trying to decide between buying Illmatic or The Chronic and being the "only Compton ni**a with a New York state of mind." Nas finishes up Hip Hop Is Dead with the spoken word piece "Hope," which, despite its seeming simplicity, shows off his indelible flow, how he raps as easily as he talks. Consciously or not, listeners are reminded that there's a reason he was the one who made Illmatic, and why it, and therefore Nas himself, will continue to be held in high esteem. © Marisa Brown /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 6, 2021 | Mass Appeal

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Hip-Hop/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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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released November 2, 2007 | Columbia

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 19, 1994 | Legacy Recordings