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

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

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Often cited as one of the best hip-hop albums of the '90s, Illmatic is the undisputed classic upon which Nas' reputation rests. It helped spearhead the artistic renaissance of New York hip-hop in the post-Chronic era, leading a return to street aesthetics. Yet even if Illmatic marks the beginning of a shift away from Native Tongues-inspired alternative rap, it's strongly rooted in that sensibility. For one, Nas employs some of the most sophisticated jazz-rap producers around: Q-Tip, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, and Large Professor, who underpin their intricate loops with appropriately tough beats. But more importantly, Nas takes his place as one of hip-hop's greatest street poets -- his rhymes are highly literate, his raps superbly fluid regardless of the size of his vocabulary. He's able to evoke the bleak reality of ghetto life without losing hope or forgetting the good times, which become all the more precious when any day could be your last. As a narrator, he doesn't get too caught up in the darker side of life -- he's simply describing what he sees in the world around him, and trying to live it up while he can. He's thoughtful but ambitious, announcing on "N.Y. State of Mind" that "I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death," and that he's "out for dead presidents to represent me" on "The World Is Yours." Elsewhere, he flexes his storytelling muscles on the classic cuts "Life's a Bitch" and "One Love," the latter a detailed report to a close friend in prison about how allegiances within their group have shifted. Hip-hop fans accustomed to 73-minute opuses sometimes complain about Illmatic's brevity, but even if it leaves you wanting more, it's also one of the few '90s rap albums with absolutely no wasted space. Illmatic reveals a great lyricist in top form meeting great production, and it remains a perennial favorite among serious hip-hop fans. ~ Steve Huey
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2012 | Def Jam Recordings

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 1, 2012 | Def Jam Recordings

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Rap/Hip-Hop - 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/Hip-Hop - 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/Hip-Hop - 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 

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released December 9, 2002 | Columbia

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

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released April 25, 2014 | Columbia

Back on the hardcore block and with plenty to prove after two years without a record under his own name, Nas designed Stillmatic as a response: to the rap cognoscenti who thought he'd become a relic, and most of all to Jay-Z, the East Coast kingpin who wounded his pride and largely replaced him as the best rapper in hip-hop. The saga started back in the summer of 2001 with the mixtape "Stillmatic," Nas' answer track to an on-stage dis by Jay-Z. A few months after Jay-Z countered with the devastating "Takeover," Nas dropped the comeback single "Ether" and the full album Stillmatic; tellingly, Jay-Z had already released his response to "Ether" (titled "Super Ugly") before Stillmatic even came out. Dropping many of the mainstream hooks and featured performers in order to focus his rapping, Nas proves he's still a world-class rhymer, but he does sound out of touch in the process of defending his honor. "Ether" relies on a deep-throat vocal repeating the phrase, "F*ck Jay-Z," while "You're da Man" hits the heights of arrogance with a looped vocal sample repeating the title over and over. "Destroy & Rebuild" is a solid defense of his Queensbridge home, and "Got Ur Self A..." is an outstanding track, the best here, complete with chant-along chorus. Despite the many highlights, a few of these tracks (most were produced by either Large Professor or Nas himself) just end up weighing him down: "Smokin'," one of the worst, is an odd G-funk track that would've sounded dated years before its release. Stillmatic certainly isn't as commercial as past Nas output, but it places him squarely behind the times. Facts are facts: he's not the best rapper in the business anymore. ~ John Bush
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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 6, 2007 | Columbia

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 29, 2004 | Sony Urban Music - Columbia

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

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released November 23, 1999 | Columbia

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released July 19, 2019 | Mass Appeal Records

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released June 15, 2018 | Mass Appeal - NAS

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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Pop - Released January 1, 1994 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rap/Hip-Hop - 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