A couple years ago, months before Nas' "I Am" was about to drop, a friend of mine came by with a tape… He explained to me that Nas' album had leaked, and that this was it. I listened to this album intensely, only to find that Nas had brought it back to "Illmatic" on this piece. Due to heavy bootlegging, the original version of "I Am" was scrapped, and it was released as a mostly radio friendly album, which disappointed me immensely. Due to Nas' recent successes, he now wields the power to be able to release something that really does not have a radio track on it, but is a return to the days of Nasty Nas. "The Lost Tapes" is a selection of a few tracks that were supposed to make up "I Am", as well as a few that were left off of "Stillmatic" (for some BIZARRE reason!).
Nas starts the album off in fine fashion, with "Fetus", a story of Nas' escape from his mother's womb. Those who have heard this track in the past will be surprised to know that Nas re-recorded the first verse, which is now completely different than the original. Rumor has it that Nas re did the first verse to pay tribute to his mother, who recently passed away. From "Fetus", we arrive at "Doo Rags", a track that has been circulating the underground since "Stillmatic" dropped, and has everyone scratching their heads as to why Nas would leave this off "Stillmatic". This track is easily one of the finest songs Nas has ever recorded, a mellow, chilled out beat where Nas talks about growing up in his era, this song alone is worth the purchase of the album. Nas then glides through an Alchemist produced gem, "My Way", before employing an AZ sample for the hook on the smooth as hell "Gotta Love It". Two tracks later, Nas hits us with "Blaze a 50", one of the most underappreciated concept tracks ever. Nas spits fire while telling a story about lies, lust, deceit, and a double murder. This track is not to be missed. Nas' newfound political outlook makes a strong appearance in the form of "Black Zombies", another Stillmatic leftover. This is an excellent song about the perils of blacks in the world, and should definitely be heard to be fully appreciated. "Can't have more than two guns without squeezin' 'em, on our own people", "scared to do it for ourselves unless we see someone do it first", these are just a few of the many quotable lines from this track. Nas masterfully rounds of "The Lost Tapes" with "Poppa Was a Player", a song dedicated to his father and respecting the fact that he waited until Nas was grown until he decided to leave the family.
I guess most people reading this are wondering why this album isn't a 10. There is only 1 reason (that I can think of): Nas' decision to leave "Among Kings" off of "The Lost Tapes" only proves that he really has issues when choosing what to include on albums, which contributes the idea that Nas has one of the illest unreleased catalogues. Had "Among Kings" been included, it would given the album one more outstanding track, and would have upped the length and the depth of the tracklist. That said, "The Lost Tapes" is easily one of the best releases of the year, and a solid Soundscan showing for this item would only increase the chances that other rappers would follow suit, releasing albums that are generally aimed at only their hardcore fans, leaving out the radio friendly trash that so frequently corrupts the overall quality of an album.