Nastradamus is invested with an aura of pre-millennial tension, and it begins and ends with two pretentious spoken-word pieces about the instability of modern civilization. On Illmatic and It Was Written, Nas triumphed by describing his neighborhood’s smallest elements — a street corner, or the backseat of a car — with exacting detail, but the majority of songs here find him obsessing about large-scale themes such as modern technology (“The New World”), the nature of heaven (“Some of Us Have Angels”), and above all, the newfound wealth that seems to have stolen some of his self-identity (“Life We Chose,” “You Owe Me”). The beats are limpid and glossy, and even when Nas’ lyricism is cunning, he has begun to veer off his self-made path and mirror the styles of his peers — specifically Jay-Z and DMX. Success had brought Nas into contact with more of the world, and his new experiences were crowding his mind with new concepts, descriptions, and messages. As the millennium turned and Nas neared 30, he would begin to sort through his thoughts and fashion a new voice as one of hip-hop’s elder statesmen.