DAR Roundtable: Nas' Stillmatic vs The Lost Tapes

As you've seen in the past, we talked about Nas' first two classics Illmatic and It Was Written, but today we discuss two more possible classics in Stillmatic and The Lost Tapes. Join the discussion in the comments below.


1. Stillmatic(The Intro)
2. Ether
3. Got Ur Self A...
4. Smokin'
5. You're Da Man
6. Rewind
7. One Mic
8. 2nd Childhood
9. Destroy and Rebuild
10. The Flyest
11. Braveheart Party
12. Rule
13. My Country
14. What Goes Around
15. Every Ghetto


The Lost Tapes

1. Doo Rags
2. My Way 
3. U Gotta Love It
4. Nothing Lasts Forever
5. No Idea's Original
6. Blaze A 50
7. Everybody's Crazy
8. Purple
9. Drunk By Myself
10. Black Zombie
11. Poppa Was A Playa

Stillmatic is a classic comeback album, but it's Lost Tapes, the album composed of unreleased tracks from 98 to 2001, that is a greater album to me. I remember Pops STRESSING ME to listen to the Lost Tapes. Stillmatic has more impactful tracks like Ether and One Mic, but I loved the nostalgic and retrospective feel of Lost Tapes. It reminded me of that observant Nas rather than the "thug Nas". A lot of lines and even the title of tracks are lessons to me. From "do your body right and it loves you back" to "Nothing Lasts Forever" to "it's not what you do but how it's done". I also saw Nas becoming vulnerable on the tracks. A complete 180 from the defiant feel of Stillmatic. Great storytelling as well in tracks like Blaze a 50 and moody "fuck the world" tracks like Drunk By Myself served as a great balance of Nas' skill on the album. I can definitely relate to one of the tracks on Lost Tapes as well, Poppa Was A Playa. The second verse in particular starts off like, "So many kids I knew, never knew what Pop was....That's why I show my Pop love...." really shows gratitude for to have a father in my eyes. One of the tracks, "Black Zombie" could be highly relevant today. A critique of problems affecting the black community including dependency. Overall I loved the reflective, vulnerability, and retrospective feel of Lost Tapes.

Lost Tapes. There's no debating that for me. While Stillmatic was a decent sequel/continuation to Illmatic, it still felt...forced at some points. In some ways, it still felt like Nas was striving to get that commercial appeal that some artists damn near die over. With songs such as the singles from that album, you get the sense that Nas was in his room with his notepad, thinking of ways to crossover. Now, I love One Mic, since I connect to it personally--I'm sure you all know the story of Nas' mom's death around the time he worked on Stillmatic--but there aren't as many songs of that caliber, to me, on Stillmatic.

The Lost Tapes, however, is the album Stillmatic could've been. It's unapologetic. It's storytelling, sociopolitical Nas (even more so than Stillmatic). There isn't that overly commercial feel. And there isn't that fascination with besting Jay Z, something which made Stillmatic a good album, but not a great or classic album. Albums steeped completely in beef go one of two ways: they're either angry classics or they're good albums which make you focus on the beef aside from ANYTHING else.

This is a difficult one for me because Stillmatic is one of my favorite albums in general, and I don't really consider the Lost Tapes a full album. With a discography like Nas', which I believe to be the best in Hip Hop, it's difficult to choose. Stillmatic was his come back after the underwhelming Nastradamus and amidst the height of the beef with Jay-Z. The Lost Tapes was put together with unreleased tracks and turned out to be a masterpiece collection with probably no skippable songs.
The Lost Tapes stays in rotation for me. "Blaze a 50" was always one of my favorite examples of storytelling in rap. Add "Doo-Rags", "Purple" and just about every other track on it and you have the quality of a classic. Nas was displaying raw lyricism in "Everybody's Crazy", and "No Idea's Original" is one of Nas greatest verses to me. As much as I've felt down and bumped drunk by myself(usually while high, ironically) The Lost Tapes has a special place in my heart.
I still have to say Stillmatic is the better project. Stillmatic is a certified classic album and arguably one of Nas' top 3 in his discography. The intro still gives me goosebumps and you know shit is on as soon as it transitions into those shots. Ether sets the tone, not only as the greatest diss track ever, but the perfect example of the chip Nas had on his shoulder at that time. With that, plus Destroy And Rebuild, Nas was out to prove he was still the greatest. The rest of the album balances out perfectly with One Mic, What Goes Around etc, I might actually like Stillmatic more than Illmatic depending on my mood. With respect to the masterpiece that is the Lost Tapes, I'll have to give the debate to Stillmatic.

P.S. Braveheart Party is a myth and doesn't count.

Man this is a hard choice, but personally I would give the slightest advantage to The Lost Tapes by the smallest margin. All of the songs on there like Black Zombie, Purple, No Idea's Original....its just the unreleased music from the greats that makes it slightly better, but Stillmatic is still a classic and basically flawless regardless. I will have to go with The Lost Tapes.

Stillmatic hands down. It is rightfully claimed to be the album that was the total return-to-form Nas that we all loved, even if it wasn't quite to Illmatic (an album that unfairly overshadows what follows afterwards). But I fuck with Stillmatic simply because I really dug the way he explored the themes. An example of this is 2nd Childhood, which he criticizes young black men that still live immaturely or basically growing up backwards. For that reason, it hit me the hardest because I had saw myself going down that road if I hadn't made a few vital changes. And this album actually holds one of my favorite songs of all time, which is One Mic. Oh my God, that song just gives me the fucking chills every single time I listen to it. Honorable mention goes to Got Yourself A Gun and Ether. This album is very smooth and hard hitting for the most part. Still one of my favorite albums of all time.

I am of the belief that Nas has 5 classic albums. Whether or not people agree that is irrelevant, but I say Nas has 5 classics. What are they, and how are they ranked? Well, I think It Was Written is easily his best, The Lost Tapes is 2nd best, Stillmatic and Illmatic are dead even, while Life Is Good is the most recent one. That's how I rank Nas' albums, his classics at least. With that being said, I lean towards Lost Tapes as the better project overall. More concise, more retrospective even, the Lost Tapes is a certified classic and Nas' best work complied into one album. Stillmatic is a classic and one hell of an album, but I have to go with Lost Tapes everyday.

How about you? What do you think? Join this discussion via the comments below..



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