An influence for rappers to come, Nas is a more-than-talented rapper who has been releasing music since the ’80s and was noticed for his work in the ’90s, including his arguably greatest hit “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” with the great Ms. Lauryn Hill.
After a booming ’90s career, Nas compiled The Lost Tapes of several unfinished or unreleased songs that needed to be heard. Seventeen years after its first installment, Nas has released his second edition of the compilation series, The Lost Tapes 2. A third and fourth entry of the series have also been confirmed, according to Complex.
“[These songs] were just sitting there and I always thought I would come back to finish them off later, but it never happened,” Nas said via Complex. “So I’m sitting there with all these songs starting to pile up and I’m like, ‘Oh, I did a Lost Tapes album 17 years ago, and I think it’s time to make another one.’”
The first collection was gleaned from a three-year, three-album period, whereas The Lost Tapes 2 was extracted from various parts of the past decade. The album includes unheard of tracks from NASIR, Hip-Hop Is Dead, Untitled and Life Is Good.
The compilation album has a lot to live up to after the success of the original. However, the unreleased material taken from over the past 10 years is paired with beats by Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, Pharrell Williams, Pete Rock, RZA and more, making the second installment undoubtedly comparable to the first.
The opening song, “No Bad Energy,” has received a ton of buzz on social media. The song is produced by Swizz Beatz, and Nas kills it with lyrics such as, “Heard some people discussing my whereabouts / Yeah, it's been a few sightings of me, a fair amount / Never seen much, but yet I'm never in the house / Move in style, wild, exciting when I do step out.”
RZA produced “Tanasia” and “Highly Favored,” which both have vibes that bring fans back to the classic Nas sound. Throwing it back to another decade is the album’s single, “Jarreau Of Rap (Skatt Attack) (feat. Al Jarreau & Keyon Harrold).” The track features Nas’ signature ebbing and flow and combines it with a sample from Jarreau’s “(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo a la Turk.”
It’s no challenge to recognize Kanye’s production on “You Mean The World To Me,” with his signature repetitive soul background rather than the traditional beats Nas raps over. In fact, the song sounds related to several of Kanye’s own songs and the production featured on them.
Nas references past relationships in “Beautiful Life (feat RaVaughn),“ which is produced by No I.D., as he raps, “Used to be my rib; thought it was 'til death do us / She married again, and I'm wishin' all the best to her.” The rapper also calls out the mothers of his children throughout the highly-favored song, “All women should bid / For keeping real fathers away from their kids / These rappers talkin' real s--- I lived / How many been married, divorced, their ex lady wildin’.”
Nas’ debut album Illmatic is considered by many as one of the best hip-hop albums of all time. Through both his first The Lost Tapes and now his second edition The Lost Tapes 2, it is reassuring to hear his classic sound and groove. The Lost Tapes 2 ultimately shows that despite being from an older generation of rappers that paved the way for music, Nas is still able to churn out hits and remain the rap legend he’s always been.