Album Review | Nas – The Lost Tapes

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This album was released on September 23rd in 2002. It’s a compilation of a bunch of unreleased material. I’m pretty sure most of the shit that ended up getting cut from I Am… & Nastradamus is here on this album. I think some of it is from the Stillmatic sessions too. I Am… The Autobiography probably would’ve been one of Nas’ best projects if it didn’t get leaked, so I’m glad I get to hear some of it with this project. I’ve never heard anything from this album, but I’ve heard OF some of these songs, like Drunk By Myself & Poppa Was A Playa. I know some people say that it’s better than most of Nas’ real albums, so I’m expecting this to be really dope.

Track 1: Doo Rags (Prod. Precision)

This beat is fucking incredible. This shit ironically sounds a lot more polished than most of Nas’ other work. It’s really jazzy. Lyrically, this song reminds me of Nostalgia by Chance The Rapper, except Nas is rapping more about the hood in which he grew up than actually being a child. The first verse was dope af. The hook is pretty good. This second verse is incredible. This is the epitome of Nas as a rapper. “War in the ghetto / We crabs in a barrel; they torture us / They won’t be serving the beast too long / The murderers wearing police uniforms / Confederate flags I burn.” I wish I could just quote every bar. This song is dope af. The first & third verses were fantastic too. I love this song. This is dope af. 5/5

Track 2: My Way (Prod. The Alchemist)

This beat is dope. It’s led by a piano loop just like the previous song. This one’s a little more upbeat tho. If the whole album is this consistent then this may end up being Nas’ best project since Illmatic. I won’t get ahead of myself tho. This is only the second song after all, and all I’ve heard is the beat. Okay, Nas is goin’ in now. He’s just painting himself as a G. “Alcoholic on toilets; I shit blood.” That’s definitely my favorite line in the song so far. The first verse was pretty good. This second verse is even better tho. “Never knew murder ’til I seen my man get popped / No blood soaking, laying there, eyes still open / I got a little closer, put my hand in his palm / He was looking right through me, yo, staring beyond.” I fuck with this hook. Goddamn. It just gets better with each verse. The third verse was dope af. He killed this shit. I feel like I haven’t heard him rhyme this well in a long ass time. I guess he was spittin’ pretty well on Stillmatic tho. This shit is dope af. I definitely fuck with this. 5/5

Track 3: U Gotta Love It (Prod. L.E.S.)

The piano is still present. It’s just not as… umm… Prominent? I think that’s the word I’m looking for. I really like how the production is evolving on this project. It started off with a very piano heavy beat, and it’s slowly fading away with each track. These first three tracks give off kind of a somber vibe. I’m pretty sure this track was cut from Nastradamus. This beat is way better than anything that was on that album tho—even the intro & outro. The first verse was pretty good. I wasn’t blown away by anything, but it wasn’t bad at all. The hook was cool. The second verse was actually really fuckin’ dope. Fuck. I wish I could say this was dope af because he killed that last verse, but the first verse and hook just don’t elevate it to that level. It’s very dope tho. He just barely missed the “dope af” label with this song. It’s dope. 4/5

Track 4: Nothing Lasts Forever (Prod. L.E.S.)

This beat is really dope. The piano’s still there. Nas is goin’ in about his younger days in the hood. “Back then nobody wore a vest / Pull out razors, you had to put your hand skills to the test.” The first verse was dope af. I fuck with this hook. I really enjoyed the second verse too. I don’t really have shit else to say. It’s just another dope song. It kinda reminds me of Biggie a little bit. Nothing about this song is bad, but at the same time nothing really stands out to me. It’s just another good song. I fuck with this. This is dope. 4/5

Track 5: No Idea’s Original (Prod. The Alchemist)

Okay, the piano’s completely gone now. It sounds like it’s been replaced by an electric guitar. I’m not crazy about this beat. It’s alright I guess. Oh shit… Never mind… Once the first verse starts the beat gains some horns, and it gets a lot smoother. I wasn’t expecting that. I guess I spoke too soon… I actually really fuck with this beat. I’m not in love with the primary electric guitar loop, but Nas sounds really good over the drum break and the parts with the horn are smoother than a motherfucker. The hook is at the beginning and end of the song. He’s just rapping one long ass verse in between the two recitations of the hook. He fuckin’ killed it too. This is dope af. I was a little worried about the production at first, but after things got going I really started enjoying the track. I love the long verse from Nas too. He went in. This song is dope af. 5/5

Track 6: Blaze A 50 (Prod. L.E.S. & Poke & Tone)

Nas starts rapping as soon as this track starts. I’m pretty sure he started spittin’ before the beat even came on. This is easily the most aggressive track on the whole album so far. This beat’s cool I guess. The piano’s back. It’s in the background, but it definitely contributes a lot to the production. This beat would be way more boring and dull without it. Nas is telling a story of some bad ass chick who was having an affair with him. Damn. It sounds like Nas is fallin’ in love with this girl, and she wants him to murder his husband, so that they can get the insurance money. Damn. He’s doin’ it. He caught the girl’s husband cheatin’ with they maid. He was doin’ some WEIRD as masochist shit. Nas blew his brains out tho. Ah shit. Nas just flipped it. He pulled a Blac Chyna. He was thinkin’ “what if this lady is finessin’ me? What if she snitches on me, and takes all the money for herself?” so he had the maid pretend to be her. “Her” is the chick who got Nas to kill the guy. I’ll just call her X, so y’all can keep up. X=the badass chick who got Nas to kill her husband. The maid is pretending to be X, so Nas can finesse X and take the money from her just in case she tries to pull some shit. Goddamn… Nas… Nas just finessed the motherfuck outta X. That is some ice cold GANGSTA shit. Yo, that might actually be the hardest, most gangsta, coldest shit Nas has ever rapped about in a song. X didn’t know that Nas split the money with the maid, so she was celebrating because she thought she was gettin’ some of that sweet, sweet nectar. She snorted a few lines of what she thought was coke, but when she wasn’t looking Nas replaced it with CRUSHED UP GLASS. GODDAMN. I know. That’s crazy. How the fuck do you even think of shit like that? Where did the glass come from? Did he just take a drinking glass and crush it with a big ‘ol mallet, Gallagher style? This song is fucking incredible. That ending was crazy. I think I like this track even more than Undying Love. I definitely fuck with this shit. This is dope af. It’s less than 3 minutes too. That was a crazy ass detailed story, and he told it in only two minutes & fifty seconds. 5/5

Track 7: Everybody’s Crazy (Prod. Rockwilder)

This beat is kinda dope. The primary loop is really simple and kinda quiet, but I love the different elements that Rockwilder included at different points. There’s a short section with bells that you wouldn’t catch unless you were paying attention. You need to pay just as much attention to the production as you do to the bars on this song. Lyrically, this is just a bunch of braggadocio from a hard ass gangsta. The first verse was dope. The second verse was better. His flow is really smooth on this track. The third verse was great. I enjoyed the song, but it’s not really blowing me away. Even though I tried to point out the intricacies of this beat, it’s still not that good… Nas’ verses were good, but they weren’t really different from anything else he’s done. It’s just a typical Nas track. That’s not a bad thing tho. It’s dope. 4/5

Track 8: Purple (Prod. Hill, Inc.)

This beat is dope af. The piano’s back. In terms of production, this is probably the best album from Nas that I’ve heard since Illmatic. The first verse was great. He was rappin’ about how drug dealers on the street corner are always replaced soon after they’re killed. The second verse was even better than the first. He was rappin’ about a gang member or maybe it was just some random ass hard ass motherfucker. It was told in second person, and he was basically just like “fuck you.” It sounded way cooler when he said it tho… “The hood love you, but behind your back they pray for the day a bullet hit your heart and ambulances take you away / That ain’t love, it’s hate / Think of all the mothers at wakes / Whose sons you killed, and you ain’t got a cut on your face?” The second verse is dope af. The third verse is even better. Goddamn. This song is fucking incredible. Remember that shit I said about Doo Rags? How it was the “epitome of Nas as a rapper?” Everything I said about that track applies to this one too. I think I like this track even more than Doo Rags tho. This shit is dope af. 5/5

Track 9: Drunk By Myself (Prod. Al West & Poke & Tone)

This beat is dope af. Okay, this shit is dope. I guess he just got drunk because he was depressed ’cause his life sucks, and now he’s just driving around the city. This is definitely one of the best songs on the album, but for some reason I just don’t really have much to say about it. It’s just a great song. The verses were all great. The beat was fantastic. I can’t really say anything bad about this track. It’s a really cool concept in my opinion. There just aren’t really any standout lines that I can quote. It’s dope af tho. 5/5

Track 10: Black Zombie (Prod. Hill, Inc.)

This beat is cool I guess. It’s definitely not bad. I’m just not really blown away by it. If I had to guess, I’d say that this song was cut from Nastradamus. Just the subject matter, and the way he’s approaching this topic reminds me of Nastradamus. I don’t think it’s a terrible song, but it doesn’t really do much for me personally. I think he had kind of a dope flow on the first verse, but other than that it I’m not really impressed. It’s preachy. I hate to say that because I don’t wanna sound like a cynical douche, but “preachy” is really the first word that comes to mind when I hear this shit. Nas is comparing black people to zombies, saying that we’re controlled by what the media tells us to be. I guess I can get behind the message he’s trying to convey, but as a song this isn’t really doin’ much for me. I’m not really feelin’ the hook. Nas is singing, and it’s much better than you’d expect it to be. It’s still not that good tho. “Fuck black leaders ’cause whites ain’t got no one leading them.” It’s possible that I’m misconstruing what he said, but that’s a dumb ass line to me. He’s acting like “black leaders” are literally people who tell black people what to do and how to act. Maybe I’m thinking of a different kind of black leader, but I don’t know anyone who does that. When I think of black leaders, I think of people like Cornell West or Farrakhan. He makes it sound like black leaders are dark skinned slave masters. I’m probably overthinking this shit tho. Whatever. I can’t really fuck with this song to be honest. I don’t think it’s terrible. It’s just not that good to me. The beat didn’t stand out. The hook was wack. The lyrics were preachy. It’s just not doin’ anything for me. 3/5

Track 11: Poppa Was A Playa (Prod. Kanye West)

Apparently Kanye West ghost produced this track for D-Dot. That’s dumb. I didn’t realize ghost producing was even a thing. Ghost writing is bad enough, but ghost producing is even worse. Whatever. I guess it doesn’t really matter since we all know who really produced it now. Well, it’s not really clear whether or not D-Dot actually helped with this beat at all. Let’s just say he didn’t. Okay, the song’s starting now. Wow. The first verse just ended. This is fantastic. He’s rapping about how his dad used to cheat on his mama. The first verse was fantastic. The beat’s pretty good. It’s not amazing tho. Oh God, Nas… Why… WHY? This hook is fucking horrible. Nas is singing, and it sounds fucking horrendous. He’s completely off key. Did he even hear this shit? What made him think this was okay? FUCK. This song would be so fucking good if it weren’t for that hook. Damnit, Nas. You done FUCKED up. Maybe I can try to cut it out in GarageBand. Nas needs to stop singing forever. Just don’t sing. Ever. FUCK. I can’t cut the hook out because the fucking second verse starts before the hook ends. God. DAMNIT. Oh my God… The second verse is fucking incredible. This is probably one of my favorite Nas songs lyrically. I just can’t do it tho. The hook is so bad. That second verse tho… He caught his dad cheating, and his dad told him not to tell his mama. “Promised things that he would buy me if I kept my mouth closed and don’t tell mommy / He said one day I’ll understand, ‘little me / What’s in you is inside me.” That line is fucking unbelievable to me. Fuck everything. I hate when this happens. This would probably be the best song on the whole album if it weren’t for that hook. I don’t believe this shit. I’m so upset right now. Sigh. Alright. Fuck it. I can’t get behind this shit. The hook is really bad. Aside from that, this song is fucking incredible. I just can’t do it tho. 3/5

Track 12: Fetus (Prod. Trackmasters)

This is a hidden track that comes on a few seconds after the end of Poppa Was A Playa. This beat is dope af. Alright, Nas is goin’ in now. He’s rapping from the perspective of himself as a fetus before he was born. The first verse was really dope. Damn. How does he come up with these concepts? “They must wanna keep me ’cause 4 months passed, and I’m still alive.” Damn. This is exactly what I wanted it to be. “That’s when pops took moms to see the doc at the clinic / But I was saved ’cause he changed his mind in the last minute / Watching ’em yell / Heard my moms voice well / Feared fist fights; so terrified when we fell / While they broke up furniture, and smashed plates on the wall / I wondered if I am born, will I be safe at all?” Wow. The song just ended. Okay, it’s pretty obvious that this was supposed to be the intro for I Am… The Autobiography. God fucking damnit. Every time I think about that album I just get so disappointed. That album would’ve been fucking amazing if it didn’t get bootlegged. Whatever. At least we got to hear a few of these songs. This track is dope af. I definitely fuck with this shit. 5/5

Final Thoughts:

This album is really, really, really dope. Honestly if it weren’t for that hook on Poppa Was A Playa, this would probably be the best Nas album I’ve heard since Illmatic. I like It Was Written just a little more than this. That’s still saying a lot tho. For this to be my third favorite Nas album when it’s just a compilation of unreleased tracks is crazy. I really can’t figure out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I mentioned this a lot already, but I really love how he managed to make all of these songs fit together. This is a very sonically cohesive album. Every song fits into this album very well due to the piano motif in the production. This is a lot more consistent than most of Nas’ real albums. He didn’t just take a bunch of tracks that he had sitting around and throw them together in one package. It really sounds like he specifically chose these songs because he knew that they’d go well together. The more I listen to this the more I want I Am… The Autobiography. I really need to get over that shit… Anyway, DO NOT sleep on this album. This is easily one of Nas’ best albums that I’ve heard so far. I really didn’t know what to expect with this project. All I knew was that it was a bunch of unreleased material. I’d heard that it was a great album, but it still surpassed my expectations. This is a great album.

Favorite Song: Purple

Least Favorite Song: Black Zombie

Verdict:

88%

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