Nas – 20

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You know your little cousin? The one who can’t wait to drink legally next year? Nas has been gettin’ paid for rapping longer than he’s been alive. It’s crazy to think he’s 20 years deep and showing no signs of slowing up. His collabo with Damien Marley proves that, so I decided to put together a compilation of what I consider to be his best verses year by year. It wasn’t until I finished that I realized the caliber of each of them and how difficult it was to choose. Shots to dirt_dog from TROY for the artwork. Check the tracklisting, download link and lyrics after the jump.

— Snoop Bloggy Blogg

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01 – Live at the BBQ (1991)
02 – Halftime (1992)
03 – NY State of Mind (1993)
04 – Memory Lane (1994)
05 – Verbal Intercourse (1995)
06 – I Gave You Power (1996)
07 – Project Windows (1997)
08 – Ghetto Prisoners (1998)
09 – Undying Love (1999)
10 – Street Glory (2000)
11 – What Goes Around (2001)
12 – Last Real Nigga Alive (2002)
13 – One Never Knows (2003)
14 – Thief’s Theme (2004)
15 – Road to Zion (2005)
16 – Hope (2006)
17 – Surviving the Times (2007)
18 – Letter to the King (2008)
19 – Film (2009)
20 – Victory (2010)

Main Source ft. Joe Fatal, Akinyele and Nas – Live at the BBQ (1991)

The teenage prodigy meets the heir apparent. During the recording sessions for Eric B and Rakim’s Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em, Large Pro hears Nas rhyme for the first time and instantly recruits him for the lead off spot on Main Source’s “Live at the BBQ” single.

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 shit
Verbal assassin my architect pleases
When I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffin Jesus
Nasty Nas is a rebel to America
Police murderer, I’m causin hysteria
My troops roll up with a strange force
I was trapped in a cage and let out by the Main Source
Swimmin in women like a lifeguard
Put on a bulletproof nigga I strike hard
Kidnap the President’s wife without a plan
And hangin niggaz like the Ku Klux Klan
I melt mics till the sound waves over
Before steppin to me you’d rather step to Jehovah
Slammin MC’s on cement
Cause verbally, I’m iller than a AIDS patient
I move swift and uplift your mind
shoot the gift when I riff and rhyme
Rappin sniper, speakin real words
My thoughts react, like Steven Spielberg’s
Poetry attacks, paragraphs punch hard
My brain is insane, I’m out to lunch God
Science is dropped, my raps are toxic
My voicebox locks and excels like a rocket

Nas – Halftime (1992)

Building off the buzz of “Live at the BBQ” and MC Serch’s “Back to the Grill,” Columbia Records showcased their 18yr old phenom on the Zebrahead original soundtrack. The movie might have been overshadowed by Do the Right Thing, but nothin’ was touchin’ Nasty Nas over a thumpin’ Large Pro beat.

It’s like that, you know it’s like that
I got it hemmed, now you never get the mic back
When I attack, there ain’t an army that could strike back
So I react never calmly on a hype track
I set it off with my own rhyme
Cause I’m as ill as a convict who kills for phone time
I’m max like cassettes, I flex like sex
in your stereo sets, Nas will catch wreck
I used to hustle, now all I do is relax and strive
When I was young, I was a fan of the Jackson 5
I drop jewels, wear jewels, hope to never run it
With more kicks than a baby in a mother’s stomach
Nasty Nas has to rise cause I’m wise
This is exercise ’til the microphone dies
Back in ’83 I was an MC sparking
But I was too scared to grab the mics in the park and
kick my little raps cause I thought niggaz wouldn’t understand
And now in every jam I’m the fuckin man
I rap in front of more niggaz than in the slave ships
I used to watch C.H.I.P.S., now I load glock clips
I got to have it, I miss Mr. Magic
Versatile, my style switches like a faggot
But not bisexual, I’m an intellectual
Of rap, I’m a professional and that’s no question, yo
These are the lyrics of the man, you can’t near it, understand
Cuz in the streets, I’m well known like the number man
In my place wit the bass and format
Explore rap, and tell me Nas ain’t all that
And next time I rhyme, I be foul
Whenever I freestyle I see trial niggaz say I’m wild
I hate a rhymebiter’s rhyme
Stay tuned, Nas, soon the real rap comes at halftime

Nas – NY State of Mind (1993)

Despite sneaking studio time from Rakim and the abundant comparisons to his gawd scientifics, Nas’ early style was significantly closer to Kool G Rap’s uptempo ghetto grandstanding. By 1993, he was experimenting with a technique that would become his signature – observational project rap. The genesis of this is illustrated in his evolution from the demo “Just Another Day in the Projects” to boom-bap classic “New York State of Mind.”

Be havin dreams that I’ma gangster — drinkin Moets, holdin Tecs
Makin sure the cash came correct then I stepped
Investments in stocks, sewein up the blocks
to sell rocks, winnin gunfights with mega cops
But just a nigga, walking with his finger on the trigger
Make enough figures until my pockets get bigger
I ain’t the type of brother made for you to start testin
Give me a Smith and Wesson I’ll have niggaz undressin
Thinkin of cash flow, buddah and shelter
Whenever frustrated I’ma hijack Delta
In the P.J.’s, my blend tape plays, bullets are strays
Young bitches is grazed each block is like a maze
full of black rats trapped, plus the Island is packed
From what I hear in all the stories when my peoples come back, black
I’m livin where the nights is jet black
The fiends fight to get crack I just max, I dream I can sit back
and lamp like Capone, with drug scripts sewn
Or the legal luxury life, rings flooded with stones, homes
I got so many rhymes I don’t think I’m too sane
Life is parallel to Hell but I must maintain
it be prosperous, though we live dangerous
cops could just arrest me, blamin us, we’re held like hostages
It’s only right that I was born to use mics
and the stuff that I write, is even tougher than dykes
I’m takin rappers to a new plateau, through rap slow
My rhymin is a vitamin, held without a capsule
The smooth criminal on beat breaks
Never put me in your box if your shit eats tapes
The city never sleeps, full of villians and creeps
That’s where I learned to do my hustle had to scuffle with freaks
I’m a addict for sneakers, twenties of buddah and bitches with beepers
In the streets I can greet ya, about blunts I teach ya
Inhale deep like the words of my breath
I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death
I lay puzzled as I backtrack to earlier times
Nothing’s equivalent, to the new york state of mind

Nas – Memory Lane (1994)

By Spring of ’94 the buzz over Nas’ debut had been replaced with cynical speculation. “Halftime” had felt like years ago and the bootleg cassette tapes for “New York State of Mind” were wearing thin. Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle had founded new ground in black rap, commandeering MTV for weeks at a time as it etched its way into the American conversation. The RZA had began his five year plan to the delight of a city, unleashing a spectrum of characters with eastern promise. Advance money already spent, Nas was broke, sidelined in Queensbridge, waiting on Columbia to release his album. When it finally dropped in April, this was the pick of the bunch.

One for the money
Two for pussy and foreign cars
Three for Alize niggaz deceased or behind bars
I rap divine God, check the prognosis, is it real or showbiz?
My window faces shootouts, drug overdoses
Live amongst no roses, only the drama, for real
A nickel-plate is my fate, my medicine is the ganja
Here’s my basis, my razor embraces, many faces
Get telephone blowin, black stitches or fat shoelaces
Peoples are petrol, dramatic automatic fo’-fo’ I let blow
and back down po-po when I’m vexed so
my pen taps the paper then my brain’s blank
I see dark streets, hustlin brothers who keep the same rank
Pumpin for somethin, some uprise, plus some fail
Judges hangin niggaz, uncorrect bails, for direct sales
My intellect prevails from a hangin cross with nails
I reinforce the frail, with lyrics that’s real
Word to Christ, a disciple of streets, trifle on beats
I decifer prophecies through a mic and say peace.
I hung around the older crews while they sling smack to dingbats
They spoke of Fat Cat, that nigga’s name made bell rings, black
Some fiends scream, about Supreme Team, a Jamaica Queens thing
Uptown was Alpo, son, heard he was kingpin, yo
Fuck ‘rap is real’, watch the herbs stand still
Never talkin to snakes cause the words of man kill
True in the game, as long as blood is blue in my veins
I pour my Heineken brew to my deceased crew on memory lane

Raekwon ft. Ghostface Killah and Nas – Verbal Intercourse (1995)

Hailed as one of the greatest hip-hop rhymes of all time, Nas show-stealing cameo reminded a genre being torn by the sheer gravitational pull of powerhouses Bad Boy and Death Row who the best lyricist in the game was. It also whet the appetite for his sophomore album, perhaps unfairly so.

Through the lights cameras and action, glamour glitters and gold
I unfold the scroll, plant seeds to stampede the globe
When I’m deceased, by then the beast arise like yeast
to conquer peace leaving savages to roam in the streets
Live on the run, police paying me to give in my gun
Trick my Wisdom, with the system that imprisoned my son
Smoke a gold leaf I hold heat, nonchalantly
I’m raunchy, but things I do is real it never haunts me
while, funny style niggaz roll in the pile
Rooster heads profile on a bus to Riker’s Isle
Holdin weed inside they pussy with they minds on the
pretty things in life, props as a true thug’s wife
It’s like a cycle, niggaz come home, some’ll go in
Do a bullet, come back, do the same shit again
From the womb to the tomb, presume the unpredictable
Guns salute life, rapidly, that’s the ritual

Nas – I Gave You Power (1996)

Arguably the best usage of an extended metaphor in hip-hop history. There’s not much more to it. Just listen/read/reflect.

Yo, weeks went by and I’m surprised
Still stuck in the shelf with all the things that an outlaw hides
Besides me it’s bullets, two vests and then a nine
There’s a grenade in a box, and that tech that kept cryin
Cause he ain’t been cleaned in a year, he’s rusty as clear
He’s bout to fall to pieces, cause of his murder career
Yo, I can hear somebody comin in, open the shelf
His eyes bubblin, he said, “It was on”
I felt his palm troubled him shakin
Somebody stomped him out, his dome was achin
He placed me on his waist, the moment I’ve been waitin
My creation was for blacks to kill blacks
It’s gats like me that accidentally, go off, makin niggaz memories
But this time, it’s done intentionally
He walked me outside, saw this cat
Cocked me back, said, “Remember me?”
He pulled the trigger but I held on, it felt wrong
Knowing niggaz is waiting in hell for ‘im
He squeezed harder, I didn’t budge, sick of the blood
Sick of the thugs, sick of wrath of the, next man’s grudge
What the other kid did was pull out, no doubt
A newer me in better shape, before he lit out, he lead the chase
My owner fell to the floor, his wig split so fast
I didn’t know he was hit, it’s over with
Heard mad niggaz screamin, niggaz runnin, cops is comin
Now I’m happy, until I felt somebody else grab me

Nas – Project Windows (1997)

Written shortly after the Firm project, and its mostly negative reviews, this verse signaled Nas’ attempted transition back to observational project rap. Part Kool G, part Chester Himes. All classic. Shuffled from the I Am bootleg to the I Am album, a remix of it finally appeared on 1999’s Nastradamus. We’re running with the original though.

Black hoods, cops ‘n projects
sewers flooded with foul blockage
The gutter’s wild and every child watches
Chains and top locks get ripped off hinges
doors kicked off, drunks stagger off smirnoff, wipe your beard off
Crippled dope fiends in wheelchairs stare
vision blurry, cus buried deep in they mind are hidden stories
Bet he’s a mirror image of that 70s era
He’s finished for the rest of his life, ’til he fades out
The liquor store workers miss him but then it plays out
so many ways out the hood but no signs say out
Mental slavehouse where gats go off, I show off
niggas up north, prisonology talk, till they time cut off
You should chill if you short, prepare deep thought
to hit the street again, get it on, get this paper and breathe again
Plan to leave somethin’ behind
so your name’ll live on, no matter what the game lives on

Nas – Ghetto Prisoners (1998)

One of Nas’ most unheralded performances. The personification of Time mashed into his tales from the hood soundtrack another trip through the Bridge. Shame about the beat, and that’s why we’re goin’ with the 45 dub mix. Shouts to Vaporized from Philaflava.

You wanna buy time? I’m the seller of minutes
I give you every second low-priced, if I sold lies
the truth is, time waits for none of you
In fact he can’t wait for the date to snatch the ground right from under you
Small visions of better life if cheddar was right
lurk in the mind, of young ones ahead of they time
Trapped in the slums, beggin for nuttin but takin
Headed for nuttin but the state pen, where they cousins be waitin
Judges is not relatin to pleas, guns bustin where the kids play
Richochet off lamp poles and leave damp holes
in bystanders, get cancelled, D.O.A.
Around the way where we from
Hope the future reduce the rate of those buried young
Life is every man’s kingdom, a dyin man’s past
and a newborn’s, first time to be here at last
And shouldn’t have to grow up fast, and suffer our pain
Hustlin harder than the generations here before he came
Goin through the same bullshit as our fathers
Readin history, but who’s the authors?
For some the game is easy, for most of us the game is much harder
But never lose faith; through the years just get smarter
Ghetto prisoners.. ghetto prisoners..

Nas – Undying Love (1999)

A strong challenger to “I Gave You Power” in terms of Nas’ greatest storytelling performance, the track got that little bit realer around 2001. Shades of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs intertwined with adultery lace this fantasy driven by the paranoia of his on and off relationship with baby mama Carmen Bryan.

Got up with Horse, showed a look on my face was mad lost
I ain’t know whether to cry or just, try to laugh it off
“Son you home early — they wiped you out that quick?”
I said, “Nah,” showed him the plastic with nine in the clip
Hopped in the whip, popped in the disc, pressed play
To the Grand Central, from the Van Wyck Expressway
I said, “Bet you’ll never guess in a million years
what I just saw happenin — and probably still is
Snuck in my crib – some nigga fuckin my wiz
I saw dem, they ain’t see me, I ducked and I slid
I’ma grab shorty, I need you to grab the nigga for me”
Just when I thought I found love, she shitted on me
Shopped in Vegas, a present, for our engagement
20 G’s on a ring I would have hit her today with
My surprise couldn’t match the one she had for me
We pulled up, he was walkin out the house backwardly
Parked in the back of my house, they couldn’t see us
Ran to the side of my house, cocked the heater
Walked to the front when I talked he had junk
Bitch tried to slam the door shut, got caught in Horse foot
Shot the Spanish kid in the rib, drug him in
Grabbed her face, say goodbye to your undercover friend
One between the eye, she’s died, by mistake
Must’ve held the gat too tight, pointed at her face
Heard somebody knock — Horse helped me hide the bodies
Heard si-rens, I guess we goin out we out like kamikazes
We surrounded, red lights flashin, who’s inside?
Came out a bullhorn, I’m contemplatin suicide
Horse asked me for the Mac, he gave me dap, one love
Cocked the strap, then he ran out the back
Mad shots couldn’t tell what was goin on
Sat on the floor near my dead girl, put her in my arms
Pulled her ring out my pocket I was savin
Put it on her ring finger cocked the glock, and started prayin
to Muhammad and Allah, the most beneficial
through you, all things are possible, I know you’re listenin
I never meant for this to happen, I never dreamed
this’d be my fate, such a grotesque, murder scene
On that note, same time, the cops busted in
Kissed my lady, her blood on my lips, I said “Amen”
Put the nine to my head, pulled the hammer, held her close
Squeeze the toast, said to her, “Now unto God, we elope”
We elope…

Nas and Pop – Street Glory (2000)

Tucked away on the QB’s Finest compilation this collabo with Pop/Blitz (one of Nas better, although brief, contributors) revisits Memory Lane. Great beat, but the verse was so good someone tried to flip it into a bootleg joint called “2nd Coming”.

Yo, every time I turn around niggaz shot, niggaz stabbed
Winter nights, pregnant girls strugling to get a cab
Fiends lurkin’, D’s searchin’ pat pockets
Kids put to bed duck they heads from gats poppin’
Queensbridge slingers hoppin’ out Benzes
Don status, dope fiends, got syringes
Poppin’ out they arms, scratchin’
I remember park jams
Gazelles, perfect waves, shell adidas
Smellin’ reefer way before purple haze
Private stock beer niggaz with ill walks like montclair
Hats tilted wild niggaz lickin’ shots in the air
Me and Pop was there through the years our names have switched
Ain’t nothin’ changed but the names Nastradamus and Blitz
What project is this? QB, Vernon and 10th
12th street murderous pimps, hot as hell’s heat
What could you tell me? Niggas seen it all in this game
When it’s all said and done just remember my name

Nas – What Goes Around (2001)

Excitement from Nas teaming up with a combo of Primo/LES/Large Pro again and the controversy over “Ether” aside, the finest lyricism on Stillmatic is right here. The cautionary tale details music industry promiscuous sex and STDs with a fateful conclusion. If Stillmatic was the reminder that Nas was still a dominant force in hip-hop, then “What Goes Around” was the quiet memo that lyrically, very few are even in his league.

This nigga Ike with the Iverson jersey, light-skinned with herpes
Fuckin sisters in Harlem, Brooklyn and D.C.
This is the problem cause he never tell ’em he got it
from lettin fags suck him off Rikers Island in nine-three
Drives a Benz, hangs at all the parties, all the concerts
Backstage where the stars be, rockin they shirts
in bitches faces like clockwork – what’s your name, where you from?
Chain blingin, thinkin girls everywhere is dumb
Takin pride in ruinin they lives
So they could never have babies, and they could never be wives
He never used a condom, give him head he got ya
Met the wrong bitch and now he dead from the monster AIDS
I contemplate, believin in karma
Those on top could just break, and won’t be eatin tomorrow
I know some bitches who be sleepin on niggaz dreams, they leave
When that nigga blow, she the first bitch on her knees
Knowin dudes that’s neglectin they seeds
Instead of takin care of ’em they spendin money on trees
I pray for you, deadbeat daddies
Cause when them kids get grown it’s too late for you
Now you old and you gettin shitted on
It’s all scientific, mystic, you know the Earth and the stars
Don’t hesitate to say you heard it from Nas
What is destined shall be
George Bush killer ’til George Bush kills me
Much blessings be healthy, remember

Nas – Last Real Nigga Alive (2002)

A fantastic review of the 90s NY rap wars, Nas’ immediate perspective paints the reasoning behind his dislike of Jay, competitive nature with Big and friendship with Rae. The swirling Ron Browz beat gives it a great “Escape from New York”/”The Warriors” vibe supporting his theme of survival of the fittest. The last line recalls the bars from “We Will Survive” on I Am that helped excel the feud between himself and Jay.

Y’all don’t know about my Biggie wars
Who you thought ‘Kick In The Door’ was for?
But that’s my heart, y’all still trippin of the Jigga shit
Real niggaz listen up and I’ma tell you how the whole thing start
Off top I brung Queens up from hard times
Rockin at the Fever, streets was all mine
It was my version of the blues, droppin out schools
The crack epidemic had rap representin new rules
So I, got in ’em shoes, tried ’em wore them
Wasn’t a perfect fit, so I couldn’t sport em
Young murderers ride, I knew all them
Jungle got shot, Will died, we was warring
I wrote it in my album
I was 18 when Lake seen the Island
And Lord held me down and
My surroundings started changing
I had a baby, I was making my rounds with AZ
Niggaz started noticing my flow and was open when
The Golden Child closed ’em in with more style than them older men
Puff tried to start a label, Prince Rakeem had formed Wu-Tang
Snoop and Dre had a new thang
So Puff drove his new Range through Queensbridge Projects
He let me drive it, before Ready to Die hit
BIG and I hit blunts performing at the Arc
Next thing you knew, BIG blew and all the balling starts
He had Kim and his crew, I found Fox
Only niggaz in New York with number one charts
B.I.G. was ahead of his time, him and Raekwon my niggaz
But dig it, they couldn’t get along
That’s when Ghostface said it on the Purple Tape
Bad Boy biting Nas album cover, wait
BIG told me Rae was stealing my slang
And Rae told me out in Shaolin BIG would do the same thing
But I borrowed from both them niggaz
Jigga started to flow like us, but hit with ‘Ain’t No Niggaz’
Had much Versace swagger
B.I.G. admired the Brooklynite and took him in as Iceberg
The rappers today don’t know nothing, about this boss shit
There’s more shit than wanting to be this King of New York shit

Nas and Lake – One Never Knows (2003)

A quiet year for Nas in light of the 50 Cent hurricane, but he still took the time for a cameo on the Alchemist’s Insomnia mixtape to drop this gem. Following in “Last Real”‘s footsteps, it chronicles his love affairs throughout the 90s and conflict with 2Pac.

In my darkest days lighting up the rightous smoke
Cause I’m dealing with this thug life crisis and cant cope
Niggas on my dick beef don’t stop
Niggas asking what happed to the Firm
Did you and AZ bone Fox? No
How was it working with Dre though?
Heard you was fucking Lil Kim and Mary J, Whoa, the list goes on
There’s rumors that Brandy broke my heart
The world want to know what’s in the life of the prettiest Don
Nas, was Jay fucking with your baby moms?
Was she involved with a plot, to deceive my perfect degrees of
Three hundred and sixty, he ugly she pretty that’s life
Never been married eloped with dope; Music’s my wife
It’s true, me and 2Pac once steped to each other
Confronted our likes and dislikes in front of Suge Knight, we left it as brothers
As a child pops blew his weed in my face, results, mixing ether with base
I’m the rebel to America, ‘less is the nasal voice chipped tooth bastard
What your hearing is a replica
I never had a clue, that all you dudes should be in dresses
Double edges playing both sides of the fences

Nas – Thief’s Theme (2004)

The single was a hip-hop staple back in ’04 and raised expectations for Street’s Disciple. Loaded with detailed imagery of the projects at midnight, the verse was one of the highlights from a very disappointing double album.

Yo I’m hot like 95 Fahrenheit
On a summer night, tight spot where bodies rot
Rats drink from water drops in the streets niggaz
Little kids scare cops wit red dots
Philosophical gangsta, wit violent priors
Goin back like black and white TVs wit pliers
Leanin on broke down cars wit flat tires
Flash iron on anybody tryin on the blocks I’m supplyin on
Maricon, my peeps, tie balloons up
And swallow ’em, in the penile got goons, lots of ’em
Cops see them and run, don’t want no drama
Certain parts of the streets, the beast don’t want a part of
Martyr, hood haunted like the Dakota
Where John Lennon was shot up, but he sang for peace
He banged for freedom, hanged wit wild Jamicians
From Kingston, who drank Irish Moss
Listenin to Peter Winston McIntosh
Lightning hits the top of the church steeple when I’m writin
Semi-automatic no hyphen, it’s frightenin’

Damien Marley ft. Nas – Road to Zion (2005)

A mouthwatering combo in theory became practice in 2005 and eventually bore this year’s critically acclaimed collaborative album. Ripping corrupted authority from Harare to Hoboken, the switched up flow comfortably complemented Marley’s chant-down.

Sometimes I can’t help but feel helpless
I’m havin daymares in daytime wide awake try to relate
This can’t be happenin like I’m in a dream while I’m walkin
Cause what I’m seein is hauntin, human beings like ghost and zombies
President Mugabe holdin guns to innocent bodies
In Zimbabwe, they make John Pope seem Godly, sacrilegious and blasphemous
In my lifetime I look back in paths I walked, where savages fought and passengers taught
Prostitutes stomp in high heel boots
And badges screamin at young black children “stop or I will shoot”
I look back at cooked crack plus cars that pass by
Jaguars mad fly, and I’m guilty for materialism
Blacks is still up in the prison trust that
So save me your sorry I’m raisin a Army
Revolutionary warfare with Damian Marley
We sparkin a iron marchin to Zion
You know how Nas be NYC state of mind I’m in

Nas – Hope (2006)

Due to an unfortunate sample clearing issue, the terrific Wildfyer beat for this joint had to be removed from the final cut that appeared on the Hip-hop is Dead album. Rather than have a new one made, Nas opted to release it acapella, which expectantly saw it fly under most people’s radar. A tribute to 80s hip-hop and drug culture, it’s one of his best verses post-2000.

Ghetto niggaz struttin’ with nothin’ but dreams and queens broke
Mack-10’s, you can smell the PCP smoke
Melle Mel told it real in the music he wrote
Those were the days I remember, we used to be close
Then I was nine, coldest winter I remember
Was slippin’ in December, two feet of snow
Yeah, that’s the East Coast, that black ice
Symbolized the rap life
It was slick and smooth
I understood I had to come from the hood
Doin’ the Pee Wee Herman, the Smurf
Before them phones chirped
The block’s drugs flowin’, didn’t have your own work
You had to have somebody else’s, a small chrome on your pelvis
Starter Jacket, Blue Georgetown or Green Celtic
Your girl’s too expensive, she wants shellfish
Red Lobster was poppin’, standin’ on that line forever
I wish somebody would step on my Bally leathers
Now it’s whatever… hip-hop’s forever
Kept my radio on 98 or BLS
Had a pre-pubescent lyric gift but niggaz never hear me spit
My little brother tried to warn ’em, I was a tornado comin’
He knew from inside, like the eye of a storm
And told my pops about it
He gave us tickets to that Wild Style flick
Double Trouble, retarded, we was the proudest
I never had a summer job
Sweepin’ leaves, socks to my knees
Homemade shorts cutoff, Lee’s
I ain’t work a day in my life
Wipin’ away eraser of the paper man
I’m just tryin’ to say it right
Big radio, tape slowin’ down
Lower the lights go, battery dead
I gotta freeze ’em ’til they ice cold
In the freezer later, I’m starin’ at the speaker
Sunk in them 808s deeper, cleanin’ my sneakers
Wit the bristles of a toothbrush, soap and water
I let the shoe strings soak in water

Nas – Surviving the Times (2007)

A reflective journal referencing our very first entry in the compilation. Detailing his relationship with MC Serch and his first meeting with primary influence Kool G Rap, the verse was featured on his Greatest Hits disc with a very dope video

I was young, I was surviving the times
Waiting for my moment, I was destined to shine
Little Ray had an NSX, I was hoping I’m next
Wanting bracelets, never had a rope on my neck
Unless I was holding Taiyeh chain–Rest In Peace
Even though that night you flipped on us, you warned us
If you came back and we still on the corners, we goners
Moving on to… move your arm in your watch
To another time on the block
‘Cause this 40 Side
Where they say Shorty rhyme
Tragedy he used to come through all the time
I’m talking Juice Crew, not what the word define
He had a sister named Erin, for sure was fine
That was my first crush; I bought my first mic
I wrote my first verse, I was about nine
I was about mine, fantasize house buying
Met Paul, he wore some big glasses
Him and Melquan took me where G Rap lived
I was happy, just getting some answers
I ain’t even know what a record advance was
I’m seeing hoes sex in the studio bathroom
With rap dudes, thinking wow she moved me
Same girl then, right now’s a groupie
Back then, she was like the star in the movie
Large jewelry and expensive Gucci
Next stop, Paid In Full posse recruits me
Knew they were some millionaires, their ropes were dookie
Eric B man looking like touch-it-he-shoot-me
You see, every time Ra didn’t show
I get to record demos at attempts to blow
I wonder could they tell, how did they know
Sixteen years later, here I go

The Game ft. Nas – Letter to the King (2008)

In the year of Martin Luther King’s 40th anniversary The Game remembered one name he had yet to drop. Nas’ rhyme highlights the hip-hop generation’s favor of the armed resistance of Malcolm X & the Black Panthers, and consequentially strained understanding of the civil rights movement and their peaceful demonstration.

Standin’ at the pew, panoramic view of the seating and greeting
I’ve been meanin’ to do me some letter reading
to the King, he forever breathin’, your message is never leavin’
Some of your homies phonies, I should’ve said it when I see them
Them sleazy bastards, some greedy pastors, jerks
Should never be alowed at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
So people be patient, I know this ghetto grammar
But I’m a street dude, normally I just speak rude
Martin Luther, the martyr, the trooper, hate killed him
Nobel Peace Prize winner, they duplicate your feelin’
As a kid I ain’t relate really
I would say your dream speech jokingly, ’til your world awoke in me
First I thought you were passive, soft one who ass kissed
I was young but honest, I was feelin’ Muhammad
I ain’t even know the strength you had to have the march
You was more than just talk, you the first real Braveheart, we miss you
…feel like King be in me sometimes

Nas – Film (2009)

After winning the Red Bull ‘Big Tune’ production competition, newcomer C-Sick got the once in a lifetime opportunity to record with Nas. He also got a hot verse. Check behind the scenes.

Life’s a fog at night red brake lights
The freeway beside a restaurant
Cold egg whites sat on my plate like
3 AM, this is a spot frequented by some made men
I’m high on hemp, a fly old pimp
Just walked in, his suit was shark skin,
He woke me up from some of the thoughts I’m lost in
What fame does to niggas, change love to bitterness
Friends to fiends for the audience screams ridiculous
Jumped up, paid the tab got in my Benz and went
To my old housing tenement, visit my old friends
Some show love and some are envious
Some got the heart of gold, some venomous
At times I wanna go back to being penniless
Ignorance is bliss, i love being innocent
Ugh, but life’s got me on the fence again
And all is real so all’s worth mentioning

DJ Khaled ft. John Legend and Nas – Victory (2010)

It’s rare to hear Nas drop anything more than a standard 16 on a stanza, even rarer to hear him spazz out for nearly 50 bars over a dope beat. More than just a great feature, the verse defines an emcee who began his career 20 years ago yet is still one of the premier lyricists in the game. Take that in for a minute. He just accomplished what none of his predecessors have managed. From Messiah to pariah to legend, his GOAT credentials can never be called into question again. Victory indeed.

Speedboats, three tokes and pass it
Grass lit, hitting slopes in Aspen
No coat, just an oath to stay thorough ’til we back to ashes
Driven in fly sedans to the MGM Grand
Picture lots of sand, two blondes, implants
Remy in hand, we trying to tan, deal my cards with an honest hand
A modest man, aware of any counter-scam
Palm trees, magnum Don Ps, LV monograms
Hottest girls flew from Rio
Mojitos, mucho frio, my libido
Sex so strong, without the E though
Hollow threats, we don’t see those
Higher death toll whenever we roll
That process is pivotal
My pitiful poverty-struck criminals will get at you
Then we lounge in a Spanish-style house
‘Til it all blows over, Dolce Gabbana out
Contemplating, there is no bond with Satan
Say a little prayer for me like Aretha Franklin
For my hustlers, here’s some motivation
He who has begun is half done, why you waiting?
I’m too impatient to pray, too much patience for stress
It’s too much paper to rest, fuck around, you face death
I know some niggas from Astoria
That’ll cut your daughter up
Like I used to cut a quarter up
Making all the bucks, banana clips I bought in Georgia bucks
Kill all you fucks, easy
I be on the golf cart, sleepy
Y’all beneath me
Y’all be at the pawn shop, pawning watches
Obnoxious, can’t stop us, we shottas
Say you killing Pablo? Impossible
Nonsense, preposterous, bizarre at best
Unfulfilled promises
I feel intelligence is my wealth
However, how enormous is Nas’ pockets is a pop quiz to gossipers
See me at the Oscars, looking dreamy, hood opulent
Means esoteric how I wore it
Exoticness makes you curious to see how serious my closet is
Shareholders wanna invest in that Nas stock, it’s just
We be on that real shit, luxury four-wheel shit
Niggas acting thirst on some just-got-a-deal shit
Ha, for that victory we will kill shit
Get out the way, playboy, this is real shit

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