Nas recently reentered the music scene with a bang! With his most recent album, Life is Good, Nas has again won the ear-time of hip-hop heads everywhere. An undeniable legend in hip-hop, Nas has been making music for close to two decades. His own discography is well known and documented, but here are some lesser-celebrated collaborations that you might not have heard before.
‘Too Many Rappers (New Reactionaries Version)’ – Beastie Boys featuring Nas
“I’m broader than Broadway, I was in project hallways, dual tape recorder, lacin’ oratorials all day”
Nas linked up with the his New York City contemporaries to record ‘Too Many Rappers’, which was released on the Beastie Boy’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011). The album was originally to be released on September 15, 2009 but was delayed until May 2011 after MCA was diagnosed with cancer. During that time ‘Too Many Rappers’ was reworked into the New Reactionaries version here.
‘Governmentalist’ – Joss Stone featuring Nas
“I’m praisin’ the states, and the streets I’m raised in, pain is the perfume scent I’m sprayed in”
‘Governmentalist’ is a gem hidden within the retro funk and soul of Joss Stone on her 2009 album Colour Me Free!. Though it may one of the last places you’d expect Nas to show up, his rhyme schemes and content are first-rate as ever. The song, which is a clear critique of American political policies, helped the England native Stone find U.S. success with her fourth studio release, though the album considerably underachieved in the UK.
‘Stay Chisel’ – Large Professor featuring Nas
“Mental calisthenics got my mind stretching, then release it, have my whole frame bulging under diamond pieces”
‘Stay Chisel’ may seem to be a song about staying in shape, but only Nas could take a session at the gym and use it as a metaphor for keeping his mind sharp. The song was released in 2002 on Large Professor’s 1st Class album, his second album released that year. Though the album did not perform exceptionally well in stores it has become a secret treasure within the hip-hop community—with ‘Stay Chisel’ as the crown jewel.
‘In Between Us’ – Scarface featuring Nas & Tanya Herron
“Keep your enemies close, where they can see you. It’s not your enemy who get you, it’s always your own people”
Scarface and Nas’s recent collaboration, ‘Hip Hop’ has become an instant classic amongst hip-hop heads. But it’s not the first time the two legends have linked up, in 1999 Scarface hopped on ‘Favor for a Favor’ on Nas’s I Am. Three years later Nas returned that favor and contributed a verse to ‘In Between Us’, the eighth track on Scarface’s seventh studio album.
‘Me and Nas Bring It To You Hardest’ – Slick Rick featuring Nas
“Runnin’ spots, pants leg tucked in my socks, puff and lay a spread, order drinks, Henn on the rocks”
There may be no better story tellers Slick Rick and Nas. Their individual abilities to explain a situation and create a mood through their words are possibly unparalleled, except by each other. In hindsight it seems destined that Nas would be a part of Slick Rick’s legendary The Art Of Storytelling. This track is a model example of expert lyricism and uncannily witty punch lines.