The Lost Tapes 2
The premise of the original The Lost Tapes, released in 2002, is that it was an unearthing of songs never officially released—they'd only been available in low-quality versions via mixtapes and leaked audio files since at least the time of 1999’s I Am.... As labels would become better at protecting music (Nas switched from Columbia to Def Jam and then to his very own Mass Appeal in the time after), the majority of the songs on The Lost Tapes 2 are new at first listen to even the most dedicated God’s Son disciples. The recordings herein originate from the sessions that gave us Hip Hop Is Dead (2006), Untitled (2008), Life Is Good (2012), and the Kanye West-produced Nasir (2018). The production lineup—which features Kanye, Pharrell, Swizz Beatz, and The Alchemist, among others—is not unlike one Nas might choose if he were creating an entirely new album from scratch. Though working with familiar collaborators, he’s clearly pushed himself artistically across these selections, rapping over kaleidoscopic synths on the DJ Toomp-produced “Queens Wolf," keeping pace with a fluttering jazz melody on Eddie Cole’s “Jarreau of Rap,” and addressing his historically contentious relationship with the mother of his daughter and the infamous JAY-Z beef on the No I.D.-helmed “Beautiful Life.” For all of the experimentation, though, he’s made sure to include plenty of the original recipe: The Queensbridge hero bars up over modern-day boom bap on “Lost Freestyle,” “The Art of It,” and “Highly Favored,” produced by Statik Selektah, Pete Rock, and RZA, respectively.