Album Review | Nas – Stillmatic

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Stillmatic is Nas’ fifth studio album. It was released on December 18th in 2001. Nas had a lot to prove with this album. People were beginning to think that he’d lost it. His last album, Nastradamus, was mediocre at best. Fans were missing his original, more introspective side from Illmatic. They didn’t like how he’d hopped on the Mafioso Rap trend for It Was Written & I Am… Also, if he didn’t want to piss his fans off, an album called “Stillmatic” had to be really good. His fans’ confidence was plummeting. Not to mention he had Jay Z up his ass. As you can hopefully already tell, this album helped Nas reinforce his dominance in the Hip Hop industry. It’s basically a spiritual successor to Illmatic. I’ve never heard this album, but I’ve heard two songs from it: Ether & One Mic. If you know those songs, then you already know that I got a hell of a first impression from this bitch, so I’m pretty excited for this. The album went platinum in about a month, so I guess word got around that Nas was back spittin’ again pretty quickly. It’s considered a classic by most Nas fans. The Source even gave it a perfect score of 5 out of 5. I’m 90% sure that isn’t gonna happen for me, but I’m still expecting this to be really good.

Track 1: Stillmatic (The Intro) [Prod. Hangmen 3]

Stillmatic 1

This is the first intro on any Nas album where he’s actually rapping. The beat is dope. It ironically kinda sounds like something Kanye would’ve produced. Kinda. He’s already acknowledging the fact that he let his fans down with his previous two albums. I enjoyed I Am… but it was a clear step down from his earlier work. This is dope af. He killed that verse. He was basically just describing what his listeners were about to hear. “Walking very thin lines, ages seven and nine / That’s the age I was on my album cover, this is the rebirth / I know the streets thirst water like Moses / Walking through the hot desert searching to be free.” This was a great way to open the album up. I’m really excited for this shit. Especially the next track… This shit is dope af. I definitely fuck with this shit. 5/5

Track 2: Ether (Prod. Ron Browz)

Ether 1

I don’t even know how to start this shit. There’s never a conversation about the greatest diss track of all time in which Ether isn’t mentioned. Ether is one of the most important diss tracks of all time. It’s ranked up there alongside Hit ‘Em Up & No Vaseline. It was released as a response to Takeover, which was Jay’s diss towards Nas. I’ve never heard Takeover. I’ve only heard Ether once. Actually, it might’ve been twice. MAYBE three times. I think it was twice tho. Okay, it’s starting now. It opens up with some gunshots, and a screwed sample of Tupac yelling “FUCK JAY Z.” Nas is about to go in. “You been on my dick, nigga; you love my style, nigga.” Fuck. Why the fuck do rappers never go at each other like this anymore? These days all we get is that wack ass Drake & Meek Mill type shit. Back To Back was one of the most popular records last year, and Drake didn’t even say Meek’s fuckin’ name in it. Nobody ever goes at anyone HARD like this. This shit was so fuckin’ ruthless. He’s goin’ in now. I love the beat. I love Nas’ fast pace. I love how he’s in the background saying “I. WILL. NOT. LOSE.” on the hook. “When these streets keep calling heard it when I was sleep / That this Gay-Z and Cock-a-Fella Records wanted beef.” There are so many dope lines. “First Biggie’s your man, then you got the nerve to say / That you better than B.I.G, dick sucking lips / Why don’t you let the late, great veteran live?” He said he had dick suckin’ lips. DICK SUCKIN’ LIPS. I don’t think y’all understand the severity of that line. See for yourself…

Dick suckin' lips.jpg

You don’t come back from shit like that. “You a fan, a phony, a fake, a pussy, a Stan / I still whip your ass; You thirty-six in a karate class? / You Tae-Bo ho, tryna work it out, you tryna get brolic? / Ask me if I’m tryna kick knowledge? / Nah, I’m tryna kick the shit you need to learn though / That ether, that shit that make your soul burn slow.” If it was anyone other than Jay Z, Nas would’ve ended his career. He would’ve Ja Rule’d him. “Rockefeller died of AIDS, that was the end of his chapter / And that’s the guy y’all chose to name your company after?” He fucking murdered him on that final verse. “And Eminem murdered you on your own shit.” There are so many dope lines that I left outta this shit too. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you fuckin’ up. This shit is dope af. 5/5

Track 3: Got Ur Self A Gun (Prod. Megahertz)

Got Yourself A Gun

Oh man. This beat is dope af. The production so far is already way ahead of anything from his previous two albums. The hook is dope. Nas is goin’ in now. His flow is dope. He sounds great over this beat. It’s so dope to hear him over above average production again. “My first album had no famous guest appearances / The outcome: I’m crowned the best lyricist.” He’s actually saying dope shit again. This is so much more entertaining than anything on Nastradamus. He was spittin’ on every verse. I definitely fuck with this shit. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 4: Smokin’ (Prod. Nas & Precision)

This beat is cool. The hook is alright. The first verse was cool I guess. This hook & beat really aren’t doing much for me. The verses were kinda cool, but this song is pretty boring. His bars weren’t terrible. They just weren’t that good. I’m not really fuckin’ with this song. The beat & hook have a more mainstream, commercialized sound. It’s not the kinda shit I’d ever come back to. I don’t think it’s that bad of a song. It’s just not good to me. It’s okay. 3/5

Track 5: You’re Da Man (Prod. Large Professor)

This beat is dope af. Nas is goin’ in. I love his aggressive delivery. It sounds like he was kinda throwin’ jabs at Jay with the first few lines. “They plan was to knock me out the top of the game / But I over stand they truth is all lame / I hold cannons that shoot balls of flame / Right in they fat mouth then I carve my name.” Yeah he’s definitely dissing somebody with this song. It’s great. It’s basically a subliminal diss track. “Fame went to they head, so now it’s ‘Fuck Nas‘ / Yesterday you begged for a deal, today you tough guys.” The first verse is dope af. This hook is great too. It’s just a sample of someone singing “You’re the man.” Nas is goin’ off. It’s so dope to hear him rhyme like this again. “Now wait a sec, give me time to explain; women and fast cars / And diamond rings can poison a rap star / We’re suicidal, high, smoking so much lye / I saw a dead bird flying through a broken sky.” This is so fucking dope. He had a lot of aggression towards somebody on the first verse—some say it’s about Cormega, who he had a falling out with at the time—but the second verse is a lot more introspective. “Sex with death, indulge in these women / Envision my own skeleton swimming in eternal fire / Broads play with pentagrams in they vagina.” I’m glad his lyrics are getting back to his original, more poetic style. I definitely fuck with this shit. Apparently, the sample on the hook is saying “Sugar man,” and somehow Large Pro got it to sound like “You’re the man.” I love the beat. I love the verses—specifically the second verse. Nas killed this shit. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 6: Rewind (Prod. Large Professor)

This is another classic Nas song. I already know the concept and everything, but I’ve never actually listened to the song, so I’m pretty excited for this track. It’s starting now. For those of you who don’t know, Nas is telling a very detailed story in reverse. “The bullet goes back in the gun / The bullet hole’s closing this chest of a nigga / Now he back to square one / Screaming, ‘shoot don’t please.” I don’t even wanna think about how long it must’ve taken Nas to write this bitch. This beat is dope. It kinda reminds me of the beat from Represent. “I told her, ‘no hell‘ / She talking bout, ‘me kiss‘ / Bobbed her head then spit the nut back in my dick / Started sucking with no hands, a whole lotta spit / Then got up and put her bra back on her tits.” That’s kinda cool, but I really didn’t need the sound effects in the background. Just as I assumed, this song is confusing as fuck. You gotta listen to it a few times to actually understand what happened in the story. Well, it’s not actually that confusing if you really pay attention. I had to listen to it twice tho. He’s just telling a story about how he killed some guy. It’s not that interesting of a story by itself, but the way he told it makes it a lot more entertaining. I fuck with this song. This song is dope to me. 4/5

Track 7: One Mic (Prod. Nas & Chucky Thompson)

One Mic

This is arguably the most popular song from this album next to Ether. First of all, that beat is fucking insane. I love how it’s really smooth and calm, but it gets more and more energetic as the verse continues. The same goes for Nas’ delivery. This shit is gangsta as fuck. I love how they incorporated the police sirens in the beat. I love the crescendo in the beat and Nas’ voice, and how it all comes back to his calm delivery of the line “All I need is one mic.” The first verse is dope af. The second verse is even better. Every verse in this song is so fuckin’ hard. I love his delivery. He doesn’t rap like that very often. He was yellin’ on this shit. He sounded so angry. “There’s nothing in our way / They bust, we bust / They rush, we rush / Lead flying, feel it; I feel it in my gut / That we take these bitches to war, lie ’em down / ‘Cause we stronger now my nigga, the time is now.” He ripped that final verse to shreds tho. He went the motherfuck off. This song is absolutely dope af. This is one of my favorite tracks from him. He killed this shit. The music video is great too. I love this song. It’s dope af. 5/5

Track 8: 2nd Childhood (Prod. DJ Premier)

This beat is dope af. Oh… I’m not really in love with the way it’s chopped up. It sounds kinda disjointed, especially towards the end of the verses and during the hook. It’s not terrible tho. I still like the beat. Nas is rappin’ about immature people who never grow up. “It’s sad, but it’s fun to him, right? He never grew up / 31 and can’t give his youth up, he’s in his second childhood.” Nas did his thing on all three verses. I like the beat, but the way it’s looped is pretty jarring. I fuck with the song. I’m not blown away, but it’s still dope. 4/5

Track 9: Destroy & Rebuild (Prod. Baby Paul & Mike Risko)

This beat is cool. Nas is goin’ in now. He’s dissing Cormega. I wish rappers still said each other’s names when they were dissing eachother. “Mega for the record you could suck my dick.” The first verse was dope. The hook isn’t bad. It serves its purpose. Huh. Is he dissing Prodigy on this second verse? I thought Mobb Deep & Nas were cool with each other? I guess they had a falling out… He threw a shot at Jay on the last verse too. Okay, it’s over. I fuck with the song. I wasn’t blown away by the beat or the hook, but Nas did his thing. There aren’t any super quotable bars, but it wasn’t bad. I fuck with the song. It’s just not amazing. I forgot to mention he also dissed Nature in this song too. It’s a dope song. I fuck with it. 4/5

Track 10: The Flyest Feat. AZ (Prod. L.E.S.)

It seems like Nas & AZ are trying to recreate the energy that they had on Life’s A Bitch. The beat gives me a similar vibe. Okay, forget everything I just said. I was not expecting this hook at all. It’s some uncredited woman singing. It took some getting used to for me, but I was able to get adjusted eventually. I actually kinda fuck with it. It’s not like she did a bad job singing it. AZ’s on the first verse. He did his thing. It obviously wasn’t as good as his verse from Life’s A Bitch. It was still cool tho. Nas’ flow is smooth af on this track. I fuck with this track. Oh shit. That final verse when AZ & Nas was tradin’ bars with each other was dope af. Both MC’s had dope verses, and I fuck with the hook too. It actually kinda has a West Coast vibe. I fuck with this shit. This is dope. 4/5

Track 11: Braveheart Party Feat. Mary J. Blige & Bravehearts (Prod. Swizz Beatz)

Uhhh… You know, I don’t really like the Bravehearts. I don’t think they’re terrible, but I’d really rather just hear Nas… This song might be dope tho. It was apparently removed from later pressings of the album because Mary J. Blige didn’t like it. It’s not even in the iTunes version. I’m still gonna review the track tho. It’s starting now. Oh no… No, man. No. This is reminding me of Nastradamus… I don’t wanna hear fucking party tracks from Nas. This hook from Mary J. Blige is awful. It’s not that she’s doing a bad job singing. Jesus Christ himself could be singing this shit, and I still wouldn’t like it. I’m not feelin’ this commercial ass beat, and this hook is so lame. When Nas mixes with this kinda mainstream sound, the results are catastrophic. Nas needs to quit trying to make shit like this. It should’ve been clear from day 1 that he wasn’t made for that type of sound. Jungle’s goin’ in now. “Come here girl can I kiss you, let me lick you / Show you what your body made for, you’re official.” Why am I still listening to this? I’ve already made up my mind. This song is wack as fuck. I can’t fuck with this shit at all. 1/5

Track 12: Rule Feat. Amerie (Prod. Trackmasters)

This beat sounds familiar… Oh shit, I know this sample. It’s Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears… My mama used to play a lot of white people music when I was younger, so that’s how I know this shit. Nas’ first verse was dope. It’s really preachy tho. “Why then must it go on? We must stop the killin’ / Tell me why we die, we all God’s children.” I don’t personally mind it being preachy. Amerie did a great job interpolating the original chorus. She sounds great. Nas killed that second verse. His flow is great. This is a really preachy song—especially the hook—but I fuck with it. The third verse was dope. I fuck with the song. The preachiness didn’t get to me at first, but it really comes through on the hook… I still like the song tho. It’s dope. 4/5

Track 13: My Country Feat. Nashawn (Prod. Lofey)

This beat is cool. As soon as the hook started, I was like “…no…” but it’s actually kinda growing on me. He’s singing, and his vocals are really bad, but the harmonizing in the background definitely helps. Oh shit… Okay, this is dope. Nas is goin’ in right now… He’s rapping from the perspective of a HARD ass gangsta who’s on his way to prison. “It’s packed on this Rikers bus / The tightest cuffs is holdin’ me shackled / The life of a thug caught in the devil’s lasso.” This is heavy stuff. His mama was a toothless crackhead. His dad died when he was real young, so he barely remembers him. Nashawn’s goin’ in now. Eh… His verse was alright. His flow could use some work. The shit he was saying wasn’t that interesting either. It just sounded like average Gangsta Rap. Nas is goin’ in again. “I’m sittin’ behind these prison walls / I got this pen and pad wishin’ on a visit, God / Brothers is here for homicide, and, yo, it’s some for rape / Some brothers innocent; I pray that I could just escape.” Nas’ verses on this bitch are great. Nashawn had a second verse, and it was better than his first. His flow was still wack tho. I almost fuck with the song. Nashawn really didn’t need to be here, and the hook definitely could’ve been better. I liked Nas’ verses, but they just don’t make up for the negatives. I don’t see myself coming back to this. I don’t think it’s completely wack because I really liked Nas’ parts, but it’s just not good enough for me. It’s alright. 3/5

Track 14: What Goes Around (Poison) Feat. Keon Bryce [Prod. Salaam Remi]

Okay, this beat is dope af. This is one of the most polished beats on the whole album. Nas’ flow on this bitch is great. He’s rappin’ about generally fucked up aspects of society. The hook is simple, but it does it’s job well. The first verse focuses on cases of murder in the hood. The second verse is about race. The third verse is about bad influences in Hip Hop. Keon Bryce is singing on the hook. It sounds pretty good. Nas is goin’ off on this final verse. He’s telling a story about some douchebag named Ike who doesn’t tell the women that he’s sleeping with that he has herpes. I definitely could’ve done without the homophobic slur, but other than that the verse is fantastic. Ike ended up gettin’ AIDS from one of the girls he slept with and died like a bitch. “I pray for you deadbeat daddies / ‘Cause when them kids get grown, it’s too late for you / Now you old, and you getting shitted on.” That final verse was dope af. This song is fantastic. I definitely fuck with this shit. It’s dope af. 5/5

Track 15: Every Ghetto Feat. Blitz (Prod. L.E.S.)

This beat is dope. It sounds really tense. It kinda sounds like something that would be in an action movie’s soundtrack. Nas’ first verse was dope. Blitz is on the hook. It’s not bad. He was on the second verse too, and it was actually pretty good. I enjoyed his verse. Nas’ final verse was dope af. “My skin is a art gallery, right, with paintings of crucifixes / Hopin’ to save me from all the dangers in the music business / Was once a young gangsta hangin’ with youth offenders / But since I tasted paper it started losin the friendships.” I love the fast pace of this song. Nas killed that last verse too. I definitely fuck with this track. It’s dope af. 5/5

Final Thoughts:

This album is dope. I obviously didn’t enjoy it as much as Illmatic—or even It Was Written to be honest—but it was definitely his best album in years. It was much, much better than Nastradamus, and it was better than I Am… too. He really needed this album at the time of its release. He silenced Jay Z with Ether. He reassured his worried fans that he hadn’t fallen off. He made it clear that he could still rap his ass off. That Ether track tho… I wish I could’ve been around when that shit dropped… I mean, technically I was around, but I was only like 3 years old. Sorry, I’m getting off topic. If you’re a Nas fan you definitely need to check this album. This is the album that helped Nas regain his throne at the top of the mountain of Hip Hop. I doubt there are any serious Nas fans out there who haven’t already heard this shit tho. It kinda went downhill a little bit during the second half for me, but it was still good. Just not as good as the first part. It was great to hear Nas actually spittin’ again. He had some cool verses on Nastradamus, but this album blows that shit away. I fuck with this album. This album is dope.

Favorite Song: One Mic

Least Favorite Song: Braveheart Party




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