Last time we discussed the best Nas songs from 60-51, here we pick up right where we left off: #50-41. Let’s get into it…
50. Back When
A very recent addition to the Nas catalog but you wouldn’t really know it if you just heard it come on the radio. It’s very much a throwback to the late 80’s/early 90’s NY rap scene. The Life is Good album manages to be very eclectic yet for Nas, it never feels forced. Here he takes us back to a song that could very much be added right in between Memory Lane and One Love on Illmatic. While it’s not as good as those two songs, it’s still worthy of the album and a welcome addition to this list.
With all the crime and war in the world, Nas asks a simple question: what’s the reason for it all? Of course, there’s really no answer to such a complex question but Nas manages to make a great song out of it. The majority of the Street’s Disciple album seems to really have a dark and somber tone to it, and well, this fits right in there.
Here, we have another song off the Queensbridge native’s newest album. This one also feels very much like a throwback to Nas’ earlier material. How does Nas manage to deliver classic album after classic album and stay relative in this ever-changing rap world? I guess like Nas says on the track, “It’s like Nas must have naked pictures of God or something.”
47. Still Dreaming
Hip Hop is Dead manages to somehow fly under the radar when discussing Nas’ best albums. It’s very much at the top of the list when discussing his best overall albums. Here we see Nas teaming up with Kanye West. One of the best things about Nas is that whether he’s on your song or you’re on his, he’s never upstaged. While Kanye is not really on Nas’ level lyrically, Mr. West still manages to hold his own. Throw in a very catchy hook, and you have one of the most memorable tracks off the Hip Hop is Dead album.
46. Doo Rags
Another gem off the Lost Tapes album. In fact, it’s the opening track off the album, and much like some of the other classic songs that led off Nas’ albums, this one sets the album on a great and memorable pace. Nas makes a song that could fit on anyone of his albums, yet really feels like it belongs on this one. Nas has made a lot of mistakes throughout his long career, but despite that, he still has way more hits than misses.
45. Thugs Mansion (NY)
Now, there are several versions of this 2Pac song out there, but the one I’m referring to is the one that Nas put on his God’s Son album, the NY version. In this version, Nas has two verses while Pac has one. It’s a much quieter and reflective song than the more upbeat 2Pac version. I love both songs, and really it depends on the mood you’re in which song you prefer. The more lyrical and reflective version fits better with Nas. I usually prefer this version.
44. Poppa Was a Player
One of the final songs on the Lost Tapes albums. Any song with daddy issues is usually going to connect with me, so this song fits that description. While Nas’ relationship with his father is much better now, it wasn’t always that way. Here, Nas’ is brutally honest about his relationship with his father, exposing some of the terrible moments and things his father did while young Nasir was growing up. Just like those things can never be taken back, this song will always exist as well, even if there are no longer any bitter feelings.
We just touched on a song that Nas wrote about his father, well, now we have a much different song that Nas made for his mother, his recently (at the time) deceased mother. It’s obviously a very sad song where Nas imagines himself having one more dance with his mother. Several lines (if not both verses) stick out: “Fuck a party, she can’t party with me,” and, “I pray that when I marry my wife, she has one of your skills.” That last line sticks out a little more now, when thinking about Nas’ failed marriage. While I don’t necessarily agree with Nas’ religious beliefs, I’m probably more at where Nas was when he was a youngster, I do hope that as Nas says, “Jesus finally has his bride.”
As I said before when talking about the Destroy and Rebuild song, it’s very hard to connect with a diss song. I don’t connect with this one at all, but we all know that it was needed. Nas was in a major slump at the time, coming off the disastrous Nastradamus album, so the Jay-Z beef was exactly the thing that was needed to wake him up. The Takeover and Ether are very different songs, and both emcees brought it, but even at the time I remember thinking, man Nas killed Jay-Z. While it’s not exactly all fact, and more fiction, it doesn’t really matter as this song alone made Jay-Z into a desperate man. It forced Jay-Z to release Super Ugly and declared Nas the winner of one of the most famous rap battles ever. Nas hasn’t looked back and has been at his creative peak ever since, the model of consistency.
41. Memory Lane (Sitting in the Park)
Here we have one of the most memorable songs of Nas’ debut album. It really does have the feeling of sitting in the park and reminiscing. What made Nas’ debut album so special and an instant classic, was the perfect marriage of lyrics and beats. That relationship is very much evident in this song. Listening to Nas is usually the equivalent of sitting in on a history lesson. Very fitting since Nas has a very rich heritage and despite being a drop-out, has always been one of the most intelligent rappers in the game.
Once again, stay tuned for songs 40-31, coming soon.
For songs #60-41 click here: