Who's The Best MC? Biggie, Jay Z or Nas...#3

Posted On Monday, January 28, 2013

With the #3 pick on my top 20 MC's EVER list I'm going with Mr. Nasir Jones. The first time I heard Nas I was standing on the train platform at the City Hall station in Philly waiting for the train. I had scooped Main Source's "Breaking Atoms" tape but so far I had only listened to Side A and of course I was loving it. ("Just Hanging Out" is one of my fave songs EVER) And I was just about done with the B side when this track called "Live At the BBQ" came on. And some cat named Nasty Nas started rhyming and I literally almost missed my train cause of what this dude just said...

"Street's disciple, my raps are trifle/I shoot slugs from my brain just like a rifle/stampede the stage, I leave the microphone split/play Mr. Tuffy while I'm on some Pretty Tone sh-t/verbal assassin, my architect pleases/when I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffin Jesus."

What the f-ck did this n-gga just say? He went to hell for snuffin Jesus?!?!? Jesus Christ? Word? Now let me break this down. At 16 I had no type of relationship with Jesus and God outside of praying over my food. I wasn't raised in the church and to be honest I down right hated going to church BUT I did have enough sense to know that you can't say "you snuffed Jesus!" You just can't! I must have rewinded that part a million times just to make sure this dude REALLY said he snuffed Jesus...and he did. So after I eventually got past that fact that this dude just punched God's only begotten son in the mouth I was able to hear the rest of his verse and I knew from the door that money was gonna be a problem. The next time I heard Nasty Nas was on MC Seach's "Back to The Grill Again" and again this dude stops me in my tracks...

"This is Nas kids you know how it runs/I'm waving automatic guns at nuns."

Now this was no where as bad as punching Jesus in his mouth but now this dude is waving guns at the chicks who have taken a vow of chastity to worship God. Word? Now I'm thinking this dude must've been molested at his local church as a child to be talking wreckless like this! So after "Back to the Grill" I'm like dude is nice but he's mos def on the express train to hell. The next time I hear Nas is on the "Zebrahead" soundtrack with one of the few perfect hip hop songs in the game with "Halftime." That jawn is flat out FLAWLESS! Extra P killed the beat and the jewels Nas was dropping were just bananas!

"Before a blunt, I take out my fronts/then I start to front, matter of fact, I be on a manhunt/you couldn't catch me in the streets without a ton of reefer/that's like Malcolm X, catchin' the Jungle Fever/king poetic, too much flavor, I'm major/Atlanta ain't Brave-r, I'll pull a number like a pager."

It was like money was so matter of fact with his rhymes, like it was nuthin' for this dude to be coming up with scripts like these. Then one day I copped the new Source and in the review section they were highlighting this new Nas song called "It Ain't Hard to Tell." And when I tell you I moved heaven and earth to find a mixtape that had the song on it, I literally did. After running around Philly for hours, I found a Clue mixtape (I think it was Clue) with it on it and even though it mad "airy" (mixtapes heads know what I'm talking about...you seldom found a mixtape with bass in it, just ALL treble) I could tell this dude was now 4 for 4 in my book.

"It ain't hard to tell, I excel, then prevail/the mic is contacted, I attract clientele/my mic check is life or death, breathin a sniper's breath/I exhale the yellow smoke of buddha through righteous steps/deep like The Shinin', sparkle like a diamond/sneak a uzi on the island in my army jacket linin/hit the Earth like a comet, invasion/Nas is like the Afrocentric Asian, half-man, half-amazin."

And when "Illmatic" finally dropped of course it changed the ENTIRE game of hip hop. No need to go into how INCREDIBLE that album is (mos def top 5 of the best hip hop albums EVER) cause you SHOULD already know that. (if you don't...kill yourself) So of course after dropping "Illmatic" Nas set the bar beyond high for his sophomore release. And while I know a RACK of people who don't mess with "It Was Written" but besides that Laruyn jawn "If I Ruled the World" and that horrid Dre produced "Nas Is Coming" I actually dug it. I got my hands on a copy of the album before it dropped and I remember listening to it thinking it ain't as hard as "Illmatic" but some of these beats were banging. So you could only imagine my surprise when I found out that the Trackmasterz produced the bulk of it. But it at least made me respect Tone and Poke behind the boards and to see they could do more then just loop old 80's hits. Now, one of the beefs that dudes started having with Nas is where's Large Pro? Where's Tip? Why Primo only had one beat on the album? And even though 90% of the production crew from "Illmatic" was missing on his next album "I Am" at least Primo got 2 beats this time with one being one of Nas' hardest songs in his discography with "Nas Is Like" (and had diggers like me scouring the earth trying to figure out what Primo used) but the rest of the album...to be honest outside "Hate Me Now" I couldn't name you another song off that album and 9 times outta 10, I'm sure you can't either. All I have to say is "You Owe Me" to explain how wack his 4th album "Nastradamus" was (can you name at least 4 songs off of this? Didn't think so) and around this time is when I wrote Mr. Nasir Jones off.

I guess this was around the same time Mr. Sean Carter wrote Nas off too cause he damn sure came at Nas' throat with "The Takeover." I remember my man Roots from Queens telling me what the whole "you know who, did you know what, with you know who, but let's keep that between me and you" line meant before it was public knowledge and me thinking (along with the rest of ya'll...don't front) now it's REALLY a wrap for Nas! The ONLY person I knew who still had faith in Nas to come out on top was my barber (at the time) Lee. I'd be getting a cut and he'd keep telling me "watch what Nas comes back with" and I kept telling him "you're buggin." Then "Ether" dropped...and damn did the tide change. It was like a 12 round bout and the birthplace of hip hop did a poll on who won the battle and it was a unanimous decision that Nas was the victor. Which personally, I didn't get. I really didn't like "Ether." I didn't like the beat, I felt the disses Nas was coming with was on some "106 and Park Freestyle Friday" ish like "you're ugly, you got big lips, you look like J.J. Evans" which was wack to me but what Jay came with on "The Takeover" was on some ole coming for the jugular disses but hey, the hip hop judges had spoken and Nas was the winner. Not to mention his 5th album "Stillmatic" was the best Nas album I had heard in 5 years. FINALLY Large Pro was back in the mix and the usual suspect Primo was on board and I could honestly say that I liked a Nas album again. And then we go right back to normal with his 6th album "God's Son." Now don't get it twisted, it wasn't as bad as "I Am" or "Nastradamus" but it damn sure wasn't the next "Stillmatic."

We got blessed with "The Lost Tapes" which was dope basically because these were old songs that were in the vaults that didn't make those wack albums which had the average hip hop head scratching their heads wondering "how didn't "Blaze A 50" or "My Way" make any of these albums in Nas' discography. And next we had the infamous double album "Street's Disciple." I TRULY believe EVERY rapper who wants his name mentioned in the "best" conversation feels the need to put out a double album. And with Nas I REALLY didn't get it cause this dude was having enough trouble making one good album let alone two! It's like a dude who has12 credits in undergad and he's failing and then money decided to add another class. It's obvious 12 credits are assassinating you so why add another 3 credits? And as usual with most double albums there were some really good songs on "Streets..." and some REALLY bad songs on "Street..." By this time in the game, I'd given up all hope with Nas. This dude wasn't rocking with Primo and Large Pro no more (it was almost like he just used them to get up some anticipation for "Stillmatic") and instead he running with the dude Salaam Remi. His 9th album "Hip Hop is Dead" was wack to me plus this dude had the audacity to use the same damn beat from "Made You Look" for the title track! "Untitled" got like 3 listens in the whip before that got thrown out like Cleo was doing in "Set It Off" when she would jack cars. Now I can't front, I loved Nas and Damian Marley's "Distant Relative" album but to be honest, I probably enjoyed Damian more than I enjoyed Nas. But at the end of the day, Nas has had a stellar career despite the bricks (and he's had a lot of 'em) and is EASILY one of the best lyricist we'll EVER see in hip hop but he's had 2 achilles heels that have kept him from moving up on this list. (like #3 isn't high enough) #1 being that Nas came out the gate with his best album so EVERYTHING he dropped after was never good enough. For example, Tribe Called Quest dropped "Peoples..." which was dope. Then they dropped "Low End" which was even doper. Then they dropped "Midnight" which was even doper. So it's like their career was able to be built while Nas came out the gate with his "Midnight Marauders" so there was really no place to go for him but down. And #2 being, this dude just can't pick beats! He TRULY sucks at picking beats. If this dude could pick beats like Rick Ross or the Game, Nas would probably be #1 on this list but hey, a bunch of could've, would've, should'ves gets Mr. Jones at the #3 spot. Salute.

My Favorite Nas Verse:
"Rappers I monkey flip em with the funky rhythm I be kickin
Musician, inflictin composition
Of pain I'm like Scarface sniffin cocaine
Holdin' a M-16, see with the pen I'm extreme, now
Bulletholes left in my peepholes
I'm suited up in street clothes
Hand me a nine and I'll defeat foes
Y'all know my steelo with or without the airplay
I keep some E&J, sittin bent up in the stairway
Or either on the corner bettin Grants with the celo champs
Laughin at baseheads, tryin to sell some broken amps
G-Packs get off quick, forever niggaz talk sh-t
Remeniscing about the last time the Task Force flipped
N-ggaz be runnin through the block shootin
Time to start the revolution, catch a body head for Houston
Once they caught us off guard, the Mac-10 was in the grass and
I ran like a cheetah with thoughts of an assassin
Pick the Mac up, told brothers, "Back up," the Mac spit
Lead was hittin n-ggaz one ran, I made him backflip
Heard a few chicks scream my arm shook, couldn't look
Gave another squeeze heard it click yo, my sh-t is stuck
Try to cock it, it wouldn't shoot now I'm in danger
Finally pulled it back and saw three bullets caught up in the chamber
So now I'm jetting to the building lobby
And it was filled with children probably couldn't see as high as I be
(So whatchu sayin?) It's like the game ain't the same
Got younger n-ggaz pullin the triggers bringing fame to they name
And claim some corners, crews without guns are goners
In broad daylight, stickup kids, they run up on us
Fo'-fives and gauges, Macs in fact
Same n-ggaz'll catch a back to back, snatchin yo' cracks in black
There was a snitch on the block gettin n-ggaz knocked
So hold your stash until the coke price drop
I know this crackhead, who said she gotta smoke nice rock
And if it's good she'll bring ya customers in measuring pots, but yo
You gotta slide on a vacation
Inside information keeps large n-ggaz erasin and they wives basin
It drops deep as it does in my breath
I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined
I think of crime when I'm in a New York state of mind."

"New York State of Mind" - Nas (Produced by DJ Premier)

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