Album Review | Nas – I Am…

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This is Nas’ third studio album. It was released on April 6th of 1999. Apparently this was originally meant to be a double album called I Am… The Autobiography. A shit load of the original sessions were bootlegged tho, so Nas had to cut it down to one disc. It was originally intended to literally be an autobiography from Nas in the form of music. That honestly would’ve been really dope. It’s kind of a shame that most of it got leaked. According to Wikipedia, this is one of the first big albums to be leaked with MP3 technology. That’s kinda cool. I guess. A lot of the songs that got cut out apparently show up on his 2002 compilation album, The Lost Tapes. I think this is supposed to be an alright project, but it’s definitely not considered a classic. I think it’s fair to assume that it took a huge hit in terms of quality due to the leaks and shit. That really sucks. I’m sure it’s not that bad tho. The only song I’ve heard from this project is Nas Is Like. It’s been a minute since I heard that one, so I don’t even remember if it’s good or not. I don’t really like the album cover for this one. I get that he was trying to do the same shit that he did on his first two albums, but the gold just makes it look kinda shitty. I do like the idea of Nas being a pharaoh, but I just don’t think it was really executed well. It’s not too bad tho. Wow. Apparently they actually put a clay mold on Nas’ face. I guess they get points for effort… Apparently he almost died when they got some of the clay lodged in his nose. Wow. That would’ve been an embarrasing way to die for one of the greatest MCs of all time. Thank God that didn’t happen…

 Track 1: Album Intro (Prod. DJ Premier)

This track opens up with a bunch of famous Nas lines spliced together. It’s not really an actual song, but DJ Premier did a pretty good job of blending all the songs together. It doesn’t sound as choppy as it should. Once all of the samples end, it pretty much just turns into a regular Nas intro. It’s similar to The Genesis & the second half of the It Was Written intro. The beat in the background is dope af. It’s kinda similar to the If I Ruled The World beat. This really isn’t worth downloading, but it is what it is. I can’t rate this, since it isn’t a song. The beat in the background was dope tho. DJ Premier did his thing on this shit.

Track 2: N.Y. State Of Mind, Pt. II (Prod. DJ Premier)

BOLD. That’s a BOLD move. I kinda doubt that this shit will live up to the original, but I’m sure it’s not really bad. The original track is one of the greatest songs in music history, so it’s not really realistic to think that this shit will be as good. I’m not expecting it to be bad tho. I’m sure he knew that this song would have to be great. I don’t know how this is gonna turn out tho. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, and this shit really is as good or better than the original. I doubt it tho. Okay, it’s starting now. Oh. This beat uses the same sample as the original. Ah shit. This fucking beat is great. This beat is dope af. Damn. I didn’t expect this beat to be that good, but it really is great. Damn. Nas is goin’ the fuck in. This is actually a really good sequel. I don’t really know how he could’ve done a better job with this. The tempo isn’t as fast as the original. That’s not really a good or bad thing. The first verse just ended. It was dope af. He did a great job painting a gritty picture of New York. He detailed how he went from having eight friends to just having two. The hook is dope. It’s pretty much the same as the original. The second verse was great too. Goddamn. That was actually really fucking dope. That was great. I don’t really have anything negative to say about this shit. It’s obviously not as good as the first one, but it’s still dope af. I fuck with this shit. 5/5

Track 3: Hate Me Now Feat. Puff Daddy (Prod. Pretty Boy, D. Moet & Trackmasters)

Hate Me Now

Oh God… Diddy better not fuck this shit up… Eh… I’m not really fuckin’ with this hook. Is that Nas singin’? Or Diddy? I’m not feelin’ it. It’s not horrible tho. It’s tolerable. Nas sounds fucking great right now. He has a real energetic delivery. The beat’s alright. Nothing special to be honest. It’s not bad tho. Yeah, that’s definitely Diddy on the hook. Nas’ first verse was dope. Yeah, he does his thing on all the verses, but that hook just isn’t good to me. I still think this is a good song. Nas did a good job. Diddy didn’t. Pretty Boy, D. Moet & Trackmasters were alright I guess. I don’t know about this song. Without the hook it would be dope. I really don’t like that shit. I’m finna have to cut that out in GarageBand. Nas did his thing, but the actual song isn’t that good to me. It’s alright. I’m ’bout to watch the music video. Okay this actually looks pretty dope so far… I was expecting to see some basic ass bullshit with Nas just rapping in front of the camera in random locations around New York. Nice. Nas is dressed up like Jesus. He’s carrying the cross and he’s got the crown of thorns. There was a disclaimer before the video started, and it was like “he isn’t depicting Jesus. He’s just some random guy getting crucified. Jesus wasn’t the only person to be crucified.” Was Jesus the only person with the crown of thorns or did they do that to everybody? Oh… Wow. Okay, I guess he actually is just rapping to the camera. At least he kept it exciting with some explosions in the background lmao. Diddy’s dancing like the drunk uncle at the Christmas party. Okay, now they’re at some club with strippers. Not a strip club tho. There aren’t enough strippers in the club for this to be a strip club. Okay, now they’re showing Nas on the cross finally. That’s actually a pretty cool shot. He’s rapping on the cross. He isn’t really being stabbed up or anything. He’s on there though. Okay, it just ended. That was kinda cool. It was definitely above average, but that’s honestly not really saying much for Hip Hop. The song’s alright. 3/5

Track 4: Small World (Prod. Nashiem Myrick & Carlos Broady)

This beat is dope af. Nas is telling a story about a chick from Maryland named Carolyn. She apparently has a lot of sex and has a lot of money. Y’all might be thinking that this is a typical song about a “bad bitch.” I don’t think it’s going in that direction tho. The beat is too serious for something like that. He doesn’t really seem excited about this chick either. Yeah this definitely isn’t just about a sexy chick. The hook is dope. Now he’s introducing a guy named “Snook,” who just did five years in prison. Okay, the second verse ended. Snook just got clapped. The third verse is startin’…  Oh. Apparently Carolyn’s bodyguard killed Snook. Then Nas & his homies got into a shootout with the bodyguard and two other guys. Nas killed his ass and then talked about how shit like that never stops for someone like him. It’s a dope song, but it didn’t really go where I wanted or thought it would go. This is really my fault, but for a second I thought it would be about how women in the hood have a much harder time makin’ it out than men. I thought he would tell a story about a chick who had nothing and did everything she could (prostitution, drug dealing, killing, etc…) to try to get outta the hood, but still just ended up getting raped to death or something. That would’ve been real af. It’s probably too gritty even for Nas tho. I feel like I’ve never heard anyone talk about women in the hood tho. I guess Immortal Technique kinda did that on Dance With The Devil… One song just doesn’t cut it tho. Whatever; I’ll take what I can get. I still like this song. It’s dope. It’s just not really what I wanted it to be. 4/5

Track 5: Favor For A Favor Feat. Scarface (Prod. L.E.S.)

Oh fuck yes. This is about to be dope af. This beat is nice. Scarface just killed the first verse. Okay, Nas is on the second verse. This is so dope. It’s just too dope MCs spittin’. Okay, the hook is starting now. It’s alright. He’s using the word “wet” as a term for killing. “You wet who I want wetted, I’ll wet who you want wanted; a favor for a favor.” Something just doesn’t sound right about that. I’m not exactly sure why tho. It’s not bad. It doesn’t really take away from the song; it doesn’t add to it for me tho. Oh shit Scarface has a second verse. He first verse was cool, but he really went in on that second one. Damn. Nas is spittin’ his ass off on this fourth verse too. That was great. I think Nas had the best verse when he went last. This song is dope af. I wasn’t in love with the hook, but it wasn’t terrible. The beat was dope and each MC spit two dope verses. Scarface sounded gangsta as hell on this shit. This is dope. 4/5

Track 6: We Will Survive (Prod. Trackmasters & Jamal Edgerton)

This beat is cool. It sounds like this is gonna be a eulogy for Biggie Smalls. This is actually pretty similar to One Love, but instead of talking to one of his friends in jail, he’s talking to someone in heaven. Or in the ground. He even starts it off the same way. He just replaces the word “kid” with “Big.” He’s pretty much talkin’ about how all these new motherfuckers runnin’ around are terrible rappers. “It used to be fun: makin’ records to see your response, but now competition is none, now that you’re gone, and these niggas is wrong; using your name in vain and they claim to be New York’s king?” It’s nice to hear Nas actually rap about some real shit. It’s kind of annoying that he tried to hop on this Mafioso Rap trend. It’s not like he does a bad job with it or anything; that’s really just not what I want when I listen to Nas. The beat is honestly pretty underwhelming. It’s not horrible tho. The hook is fine. Okay, now he’s talkin’ about Pac. He talked about how people think Pac is alive in Cuba, which he is, as well as the beef that they had. Damn. Nas killed that last verse. This is more like it. This sounds like the Nas that made Illmatic. Lyrically, this is dope af, but the lackluster beat and hook keep it from having replay value. I really wanna call this song dope af, but I’m honestly probably not gonna come back to it that often. This is dope tho. I definitely fuck with it. 4/5

Track 7: Ghetto Prisoners (Prod. Dame Grease)

This beat is alright. It sounds dated. Well, I guess it technically is dated, but it even sounds dated for 1999. Nas seems to have relinquished the Mafioso Rap style for now. I don’t know if that phase is over now or if this is just a specific case. I’m hoping it’s the former, but I doubt it. “Yo, we gotta be God’s children.” OH SHIT HE SAID IT. I’m not really a religious person, but I don’t mind the lines about God & Christ & Satan & shit like that. I focus more on Nas’ personal philosophy and how he applies religion to his own morals. The hook does it’s job. It’s nothing special. Nas killed that last verse. The beat and hook are nothing special, but Nas killed this shit. I actually like the verses here more than on the previous track. The beat and hook are still not that great, but this is just a much more interesting topic to me, so I see myself comin’ back to this song much more than the previous one. This is dope af to me. 5/5

Track 8: You Won’t See Me Tonight Feat. Aaliyah (Prod. Timbaland)

This beat is alright I guess. This sounds like a song from the early stages of that mid-2000s gangsta rapper featuring R&B singer period. I respect Aaliyah and everything, but this hook sounds really generic. This topic doesn’t interest me at all. I’ve never liked shit like this. “I’m the most wanted baby father / Save the drama / We toast when I wine and dine you; all you need is me.” That kinda shit is not appealing to me at all. All the soft ass cutesy love shit is just disgusting to me. Nah. I really don’t like this. It’s not a horrible song, but this is really not for me at all. I really don’t like this at all. Nah. I don’t like a single thing about this shit. This is wack af to me. 5/5. Nah, I’m just playin’. 1/5

Track 9: I Want To Talk To You (Prod. L.E.S. & Alvin West)

This beat is actually pretty dope. The hook is kinda… Bad. It’s tolerable tho. I guess. Nas is talkin’ about how he wants to talk to the people that run the country. “Mr. Mayor imagine if this was your backyard / Mr. Governor imagine if it was your kids that starved / Imagine your kids gotta sling crack to survive.” This is actually pretty dope lyrically. I’m glad that he recovered from the roadbump that he just hit with Aaliyah. He briefly mentioned police brutality. It’s crazy that people wanna pretend that police brutality is a new thing. Do people really think that black people have been lying about this shit for the past 100 years? That’s fucked up. It’s a shame that it took so long for people to actually give a shit. That’s the most fucked up thing about racism. It’s bad enough that the shit is happening, but they’re just kickin’ us while we’re down when they choose to ignore it. He even said some shit about puttin’ every gang together and takin’ over the country. I wonder if Ab-Soul was inspired by this song when he wrote Terrorist Threats. Fuck. I really wanna call this song dope af. The only thing that holds it back is the hook. He’s trying to sing. It’s not as bad as Street Dreams, but it’s bad enough to take away from the song’s quality. I still fuck with this shit tho. This is dope. 4/5

Track 10: Dr. Knockboot (Prod. Trackmasters)

This beat actually kinda reminds me of Hypnotize by Biggie. The tempo is a lot slower, but the primary loop is pretty similar. “When it come to sex advice I’m the one to call.” Uh oh… I feel like I’m in Sex Ed right now. I guess that’s a good thing for me. I went to a Catholic school, and since Catholics think that sex is the most evil activity in existence, I never had the class where you get to put the condom on the cucumber. I just don’t know that I would wanna hear this in an actual song… He’s talking about the “Dos & Don’ts of sex.” This is obviously targeted at a male audience. At least he’s not givin’ bad advice. “DO: get a yes confirmation before penetration / You wind up in a police station.” It’s always irritating as fuck to hear guys say “make sure she says yes! ‘Yes’ means ‘yes,’ and ‘no’ means ‘no!’ These bitches will do whatever they can for some money!” You can almost always tell that they’re only saying it to stop other men from going to jail or having to give a girl some money or something. They always seem to be against men going to jail for rape rather than actually being against rape. Well, it’s over. It was just one verse. Two minutes and twenty five seconds. This isn’t a horrible song, but I just don’t really think I would listen to this shit again. The production is boring, the topic isn’t very interesting to me personally, and his flow and rhyme scheme weren’t that impressive. It’s just kind of a boring song. This is wack to me. 2/5

Track 11: Life Is What You Make It Feat. DMX (Prod. L.E.S.)

Damn. This beat is dope af. It kinda reminds me of the Affirmative Action beat. It’s great. “Fuck it I’m running for White House / My niggas control Senate.” Wow. That line about the gangs on track 9 was similar to the shit Ab-Soul said about the government on Terrorist Threats. Now this line is similar to the cover art for Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. The Ab-Soul shit was on Track 9, and this is Track 11! OH SHIT! Nas & TDE did 9/11! “Can’t believe how my life changed / From the hood, the first time in my life I can say I did the right thing.” Wow. That’s sad…

That's sad…

Nas killed that first verse. The hook is simple, but it works. DMX is goin’ in now. Is he still in jail? I gotta look this shit up… Holy fuck. There’s a whole website for this shit. IsDMXInJail.com. Hahahaha. That’s great. Shoutout to @shemx500 for makin’ that shit. That’s hilarious. I guess he isn’t in jail anymore. I just tried to go to TupacIsAlive.com. Apparently that isn’t a real thing yet. That’s pretty surprising honestly. Alright, lemme get back on topic. DMX’s verse was dope. Nas is goin’ back in now. He killed it. This song is dope af. The beat is dope and both MCs went in. This shit is hard. I fuck with this. 5/5

Track 12: Big Things (Prod. Alvin West)

Nas starts goin’ in as soon as this track starts. The beat is average. Something about the way Nas is flowin’ over this shit just doesn’t sound right. He’s trying to rap kinda fast, but you can tell that that’s not his style. It sounds kinda disjointed… The hook is alright. His flow sounds a lot more stable on the second verse. Wow. Even the Genius editors didn’t know what to make of his flow on this one. Just look how choppy this shit is…

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 6.56.42 PM

The lyrics aren’t anything special. It seems like he sacrificed the quality of his lyrics to try and experiment with his flow a little more. I can appreciate that, but for this particular song he just isn’t really pulling it off for me. It’s alright I guess. 3/5

Track 13: Nas Is Like (Prod. DJ Premier)

Nas Is Like

Okay this should be dope. Production is one of the biggest problems with this album so far, so Primo should give it a much needed enhancement. I’m pretty sure that this is actually the first Nas song I ever heard. That was back when I was first starting to get into Hip Hop. So like last year. Nah, I’m just playin’. It was probably only like five years ago tho. I really haven’t been listening to music for a long time. I remember loving this song when I first heard it, but I must’ve played this shit out because it’s not in my iTunes library anymore. I really don’t remember anything about this song. Okay, this sample is definitely familiar. Oh snap, I remember this beat. This beat is dope af. These first four bars are the lines that J. Cole sampled in Let Nas Down, which is one of my favorite Cole songs. DJ Premier put his ass into this beat. This beat is crazy. This is one of the only times so far on this album that I’ve really been impressed by the production. You gotta expect the best from Primo tho. You can definitely see how this was supposed to fit into The Autobiography. I’m sure that this would’ve been one of the last songs. He’s rappin’ about his Hip Hop career. It’s great to hear him rap about more personal stuff. This is really where he shines. The hook is great. DJ Premier is scratchin’ his ass off… Pause… This album hasn’t been that incredible so far, but this is definitely one of my favorite Nas songs, and that’s saying a lot. Nas killed every verse and this beat is incredible. Oh shit. I almost forgot to watch the music video. Okay, I’m only one verse in, but it’s pretty typical so far. It’s not any different from any other 90s Hip Hop music video. He’s just performing the song. There’s even one of those generic shots of him rapping the song in the studio. The video doesn’t add anything. It’s much more boring than the actual song itself. That doesn’t hurt the song tho. Music videos don’t determine the quality of the song or album. The song is dope af. I definitely fuck with this shit. 5/5

Track 14: K-I-S-S-I-N-G (Prod. L.E.S. & Alvin West)

I’m not really feelin’ this hook. “Picture us married, you and me; K-I-S-S-I-N-G / I remember the first time, girl you and me; F-U-C-K-I-N-G.” This really isn’t my kinda song in the first place, but when it’s done really well I can enjoy it. This is off to kind of a rough start tho. Eeeeehhh… I’m one verse in and this really isn’t doin’ it for me. I don’t really like this beat. I kinda do, but… I don’t know. Something’s missing. The second verse was actually pretty good. I don’t know about that last verse. Shit got kinda rapey for a second there… This song isn’t for me. It could definitely be worse, but the beat & hook weren’t very good to me. The only verse that really impressed me a little bit was the second one. Even that verse wasn’t amazing tho. This is wack to me. I’m not feelin’ it. 2/5

Track 15: Money Is My Bitch (Prod. Alvin West & Trackmasters)

Wow. Is this motherfucker really personifying money as some chick that he loves? I guess that’s not a horrible idea… “I love you so much. Don’t ever leave me. I won’t let you leave.” This is the type of shit that Donald Trump would do. This beat is kinda cool. I don’t know… I’m glad he got a little more creative with it than rappers usually do, but… I just really don’t care about money like that… It’s not really that interesting. Not feelin’ the hook. “My money, money, money / My bitch is my money / Ohhh money you my honey.” All I can think of is Donald Trump’s stupid ass. Holy shit. He even referenced Trump in the second verse. “The best couple they seen since Trump and Marla Maple.” Didn’t they get divorced? Whatever it doesn’t fuckin’ matter. This song isn’t for me. I just don’t care about money. The topic isn’t interesting and the hook isn’t good. This song is wack to me. 2/5

Track 16: Undying Love (Prod. L.E.S.)

This beat is dope. Okay, Nas is tellin’ a story. It sounds like he was on vacation or something. He’s back in New York, but he lost his keys, so he can’t get into his house. What if that was the whole song? What if he ended his album with a story about him losing his keys and not being able to get into his house? Hahahahaha. Ah shit. The back door was open. There’s a weed smell and empty beer bottles. His girl must be an alcoholic. Damn… His wife is fuckin’ on some other guy. He saw them cheatin’. Damn. I guess he didn’t say anything. It sounds like he just left the house. Somebody’s finna die. “I left the house with a sick smile, and took my gun / Now I’m out buggin, whylin, what I’m gon do? / Call my man /  ‘Horse, meet me outside; I’m comin through.'” Man, I’m enjoying the fuck outta this song so far. He’s singin’ the hook, but it’s not that bad. Damn. He wasn’t actually married to her yet, but he bought a ring while he was on vacation. This is fuckin’ great. He was about to ask her to marry him… “I would have hit her today with my surprise / Couldn’t match the one she had for me.” Somebody’s about to get they ass shot by Nas. It’s about to go down. DAMN! Nas just shot the guy! Ah shit. He was Spanish. That makes it so much worse. Well, at least he wasn’t fuckin’ Swedish. Goddamn. He just accidentally killed his girl. Wow. This is fuckin’ great. “One between the eye / She died by mistake / Must’ve held the gat too tight / Pointed at her face.” The cops are surroundin’ the house. Goddamn. This is like listening to a fuckin’ action movie. This shit is so dramatic. “Horse asked me for the Mac / He gave me dap / ‘One love’ / Cocked the strap, then he ran out the back / Mad shots, couldn’t tell what was goin’ on / Sat on the floor near my dead girl / Put her in my arms / Pulled her ring out my pocket I was savin’ / Put it on her ring finger / Cocked the Glock, and started prayin’.” Goddamn. He killed himself. This is fuckin’ crazy. Wow. After Nas stops rapping all you hear is a gunshot, and then the police officer walkin’ in and saying, “Stupid fucking niggers.” This is fucking incredible. I don’t even know what else to say. This is just an incredible song. 5/5

Final Thoughts:

That was dope. He’s definitely going downhill at this point in his career, but it’s still a good album. It’s pretty clear that this album took a severe hit after being leaked tho. I think I Am… The Autobiography could have been a great album. This shit is cool, but it’s definitely not as good as it should’ve been. Aside from that, my biggest problems are the hooks, production, and topics. There really aren’t many good hooks on this bitch. Not all of them are terrible, but the only really good ones came from DJ Premier’s scratching. That hook from Puff Daddy was fucking horrible. The production was really underwhelming. Again, most of the standout beats came from Primo. Nas actually does seem to be showing glimpses of his original, more introspective self on this album. There are points where he raps about typical boring Hip Hop shit. Songs about haters, money, and love rarely do anything for me. Now that I look back at the tracklist, there were really only a few songs like that. Most of the songs that weren’t were weighed down by boring beats and/or subpar hooks tho. There are few songs on this project where I feel like Nas is at his best. The album’s still worth listening to for those specific songs tho. There are some incredible songs on this bitch. Nas Is Like is one of the best, and he somehow managed to create a worthwhile sequel to one of the most important Hip Hop songs of all time. The album definitely isn’t trash. It’s just disappointing. I wish we got what Nas wanted this to be. I wish we got The Autobiography. This is still a good album, and the album cover is actually kinda growing on me. It’s just underwhelming, especially compared to his earlier shit. I still fuck with it tho. I know it isn’t as bad as his next album…

Favorite Song: Nas Is Like

Least Favorite Song: You Won’t See Me Tonight

Verdict:

72%

HOTTTTT

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