One of hip-hop’s most dominant voices, Nas is celebrating his 47th birthday today on September 14. Brooklyn born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones or Nasty Nas, became a dominant voice of the 1990s East Coast hip-hop. Nas built a reputation as an expressive chronicler of inner-city street life and we want to take a moment to appreciate some of his best music. Today’s Destination Jam is dedicated to the legendary rapper with a playlist of five of his best songs. Check out our list below.
‘Adam and Eve’
Nas’s 2018 track ‘Adam and Eve’ finds him confessing his own sins in comparative tether to the original sin of the titular couple. With religious imagery in the video, Nas’s lyrics about his life and the possibility of passing sins down to future generations, the song brings up interesting conversation-worthy topics. Towards the end of the song, Nas highlights the importance of imparting wisdom to the youth.
With this track, Nas managed to showcase his skill as a songwriter and his road to fame while still cautioning against being lost in the excess of success. ‘Adam and Eve’ is full of hidden gems, personal introspection and outrospection, so to speak and one of the biggest examples of his ability to write deeply rich and lasting lyrics.
‘I Can’ in 2002 is the second single from Nas’ sixth album, ‘God’s Son’. Unlike most of the album, ‘I Can’ does not have the Parental Advisory or Explicit labeling on the song, as it is aimed at children. With this track, Nas has realized the multitude of his followers are of many ages and while empowering his listeners with an optimistic title, the rapper inspires them to take up the worldwide challenge of overcoming drug addiction. ‘I Can’ earned him notable chart impact, peaking at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
‘Take It In Blood’
There is something about this under-the-radar track from 1996 that just translates into pure Nas. Perhaps it is the sped-up chime of the sample from Fantastic Four’s ‘Mixed Up Moods and Attitudes’, the old-school vibe or the rapper’s swag that comes through in his vocal churning, but ‘Take It In Blood’ lends itself to the art of mystery. Each line of the lyrics comes off like it has its own tale to tell and the more you listen, you get the feeling that Nas wanted to expand his storytelling more but was limited to a quick rollout of multiple words in its near 5-minute runtime. Sonically, the music has a sense of being chill but the rapping pours out and flows powerfully and this track is one of the best examples of his catchy music.
Listen to ‘Take It In Blood’ here
‘The World Is Yours’
The fourth single from his breakout debut LP ‘Illmatic’ in 1994, this infectious banger is considered by music critics as one of the greatest hip-hop songs ever recorded. ‘The World Is Yours’ and its accompanying video pay homage to the film ‘Scarface’ and references crime boss Howard “Pappy” Mason. The song also mentions the serial killer of the still unsolved Texarkana Moonlight Murders.
‘The World Is Yours’ deals with the struggles Nas faced growing up in New York City or as he dubs it in this song, “The Rotten Apple.” Some of the challenges he raps about overcoming include poverty, violence and racist cops. Watch the official music video below.
‘Made You Look’
Another critically-acclaimed hit from 2002 album ‘God’s Son’, ‘Made You Look’ comes in hard with synth stabs over an ethnic percussion beat and Nas rapping lines like, “Uh, uh, uh, now let’s get it all in perspective. For all y’all enjoyment, a song y’all can step wit’. Y’all appointed me to bring rap justice. But I ain’t Five-O, y’all know it’s Nas-Yo” and “They shootin’! Aw, made you look. You a slave to a page in my rhyme book. Gettin’ big money, playboy, your time’s up. Where them gangstas? Where them dimes at?”
Destination Jam is a daily list of songs that will keep you entertained and grooving up top in lieu of feeling drained and losing the plot. Look out for a fresh selection of great tunes from MEAWW to refresh your mood every day!