12 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Composed primarily of songs that were cut from the original double-album version of 1999’s I Am, The Lost Tapes flows like an official release. “Doo Rag” exemplifies Nas’ advanced writing techniques, as a nostalgic look at hip-hop’s early days shifts towards an examination of how street styles originate from prisons. The song is a fascinating example of Nas’ ability to pull back the layers of a given subject, burrowing past the superficial to unpack deeper implications. As usual, Nas refuses to go the easy route. “Drunk By Myself” is a disturbing portrait of depression, while “Black Zombie” is a cutting denunciation of African-American ignorance and complacency. Nas relives his own birth in “Fetus,” and even if the song isn’t entirely successful, one has to respect the boldness of the concept and the expertise of the execution. The most memorable songs here are “Poppa Was a Playa” (ghost-produced by a young Kanye West), and “U Gotta Love It,” a shimmering track that remains ambiguous even in its lyrical precision: “Preposterous foes, finicky foul niggas / See niggas and blacks, there goes a loud difference.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Composed primarily of songs that were cut from the original double-album version of 1999’s I Am, The Lost Tapes flows like an official release. “Doo Rag” exemplifies Nas’ advanced writing techniques, as a nostalgic look at hip-hop’s early days shifts towards an examination of how street styles originate from prisons. The song is a fascinating example of Nas’ ability to pull back the layers of a given subject, burrowing past the superficial to unpack deeper implications. As usual, Nas refuses to go the easy route. “Drunk By Myself” is a disturbing portrait of depression, while “Black Zombie” is a cutting denunciation of African-American ignorance and complacency. Nas relives his own birth in “Fetus,” and even if the song isn’t entirely successful, one has to respect the boldness of the concept and the expertise of the execution. The most memorable songs here are “Poppa Was a Playa” (ghost-produced by a young Kanye West), and “U Gotta Love It,” a shimmering track that remains ambiguous even in its lyrical precision: “Preposterous foes, finicky foul niggas / See niggas and blacks, there goes a loud difference.”

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