WIRTB: Nas' Nastradamus

By @TrueGodImmortal & @SpeedontheBeat 

1. The Prediction 
2. Life We Chose 
3. Nastradamus 
4. Some Of Us Have Angels 
5. Project Windows 
6. Come Get Me
7. Shoot Em Up
8. Last Words
9. Family
10. God Love Us 
11. Quiet Niggas 
12. Big Girl 
13. New World
14. You Owe Me
15. The Outcome 

In yet another joint WIRTB edition, we talk about the least critically acclaimed Nas album "Nastradamus". Now, as you saw with our Kingdom Come joint, this will be split into three sections: The Good (covered by True), The Bad (covered by Speed), and a final verdict reached. Was this Nas album really that bad? Let's examine.

The Good (by @TrueGodImmortal)
-Nas is my all time favorite rapper. Ever. Lyrically his pictures are painted precisely and his imagery is second to none. While in his career he's made some peculiar productions choices, I think he just was too unfocused with picking tracks for this album and it showed. Perhaps it was a sign of the times as the generic production puts a damper on his lyrical composite just a bit, which is admittedly lesser than we've ever seen from him. He shows flashes of brilliance at times, with some shots thrown at Memphis Bleek and Jay on the title track, but the first few tracks on the album aren't executed that well. It's not until we arrive at the Ron Isley featured "Project Windows" that we see Nas in his usual form with a vivid verse. Check verse 2 of this song:

"Yo, if this piano's the cake then my words are the candles/
Light it up, make a wish, and them angels will grant you/
Impatient once tried, but in those angels and bamboo/
They lit it up, hit it up, now they dismantled/
Think the whole world is crazy, got a 9, watch where you walk/ 
2 dollar fine, sign of the times, here in New York/
Hire Satan/
United Nations/ 
Quietly taken/
Toll on your soul, take it or leave it, just my evaluation/
Stack loot and guns/ teach the girls karate, school your sons/
Not to hate/
But to stay awake/ 
cause the scars a razor make/
Is nothin' in comparison/
To the gas/
left on this whole mass/
if we don't get it controlled fast/
Might as well be, laughin' with Malcolm X's assassin as we die slow perishing/ 
Brain dead from a Ericsson/
Words are the medicine, two teaspoons for goons/
A cup of it for those thuggin' it, y'all sing the tune/"

Lyrically Nas weaves through internal rhyme schemes and this is one of his best verses on the album, possibly the best overall. Nas and DJ Premier connect for yet another banger "Come Get Me" and although it lacks the spark of their previous collaborations on his earlier albums, Nas is still on point lyrically in another rare highlight for this album on the opening verse:

"Power and crime/
The thugs slingin powder and dimes/
Twenties of D, is yo' niggas wilder than mine?/
My niggas bust nines, puff lye and stick up cowards/
For they shine, you resist, then you push up flowers/
I'm like Luca Brasi, Vito's best hit-man/
That's "Godfather" shit, back seat, next lit plans/
Revolvers spit/
I'm too tough to bargain with/
And you don't want the God to pull out the cars that's sick/
Arms and wrists is lit up, Queensbridge Kings/
Plaques, awards, applause when I do my thing/
Streets is black as midnight, the concrete gray/
With stains of blood and germ and piss all day/
Come on the ave, get sized up, plus appraised/
Duck and pray/
that my guns dont' bust your way/
Niggas with names, livin off reputation/
Sometimes gotta remind you ain't nothing changing/"

While this doesn't hold up to the lyrical dexterity of Illmatic or It Was Written, it's still a dope verse, and I think Nas gets a lot of flack for this album because lyrically he wasn't as vivid as he usually is, but more so straightforward and aggressive on most of the songs. Another dope track on this album is the Mobb Deep featured "Family", which once again doesn't live up to previous collaborations they had in the past, but the song is definitely dope. The back and forth between Nas and Prodigy throughout the song is solid and both come with good verses go set the tone along with Havoc on the hook. As a younger True, I thought "Big Girl" with the obvious sample was a fun song, but unfortunately upon revisiting the track, it is honestly terrible. The song is laughable lyrically and since I'm covering the good of this album I won't elaborate on why. However, Nas has one more good song, which is the attempt to be thought provoking with "New World". All three verses are good on this song, but the 2nd one is a slight glimpse of the Nas we truly love:

"Yo, the new Mike Tyson's Roy Jones/
Bill Clinton's the new JFK, without the hole in his dome/
The new Donald Trump is Bill Gates/
Not because his occupation, it's cause we respect his cake/
And cake mean his stock, net gross/
Young kids step it up, go for the most/
New cameras in police cars takin pictures/
New hustlas gettin new street figures/
And US embassies overseas/
Almost every foreign country's under siege/
Covertly startin wars, CIA, NAVY Seals/
Commit larcenies that be worth over mil's/
Oil in the earth spills/
Girls blow they body up, birth control pills/
Africans pick diamonds out a dark cave/
We wear it on our necks just so we can light up the stage/"

After this song, there's the dreaded "You Owe Me", which at one time I actually found entertaining, but I understand why a majority of people don't think it should have been a song that Nas did. With that being said, out of this entire album, I think there's 4 good songs. There are 15 in total on this album (2 being an intro and outro essentially, so 13 if you want to be technical). What about the bad? Speed, you have the floor.

The Bad (by @SpeedontheBeat)
-You're probably expecting me to call this album the most unnecessary album in the history of ever. Nope. While it's a weird-ass album, it's essentially Nas' version of Universal Mind Control. He tried something new to attempt to expand his reach and...it kind of failed. It's not a bad album, but it's...just weird.

For instance, many people will look at this album and say "It has 'You Owe Me' on it, therefore it's always going to be his worst." However, one bad song a horrible album does not make. "Who Killed It?" was on Hip-Hop is Dead, but I still was able to enjoy the rest of the album. I think we give a lot of flack to the album for being so vastly different, overly commercial, and straight-up wack when compared to I Am..., which was released months prior (those who know their history know that Nastradamus was slated to be the second disc of I Am...--and then a completely different album--but due to, ya know, bootleggers, Nas had to record a bunch of new stuff for it).

Ok, seriously, though. The album is trash. What, you thought I was going to let this escape my ears without giving that raw, Profound Asshole critique? Nope. It's his worst album. It's his worst because of its unfinished nature, rehashed themes, "You Owe Me" (seriously, Nas? What the hell?!), and...the fact that it seemed more ready to further introduce the Nas/Jay Z beef than actually being a cohesive product. Nas gets pretty much washed by every guest star on the album and it's a very, very, very poor reflection of the legacy that Nas created to that point.

Yeah, we can say "oh, bootleggers killed the album." But...Nas' next two albums were pretty much the product of bootleggers stealing his shit. We can try to be apologists because Nas is, well...Nas. But doing that is a grand disservice to his legacy (every artist makes a bad album. Every artist. From Kendrick to Cam'Ron, every artist has an album that's inferior to the rest of their catalog) and waxing over the fact that Nas should've said "screw this album. Lemme work more on Stillmatic." But, he didn't, so we got Nastradamus.

The Verdict 
-Well, with songs such as "God Love Us" squandering its potential with corny lyrics and a subpar hook, along with some of the worst verses we've ever heard from Nas, I think it is safe to say Nastradamus is without without a doubt THAT bad and that this is the worst album from Nas. There is no other album from Nas that is as unfocused or mediocre like this one. I'm glad Nas picked it back up and dropped 4 amazing projects in a row after that (Stillmatic, The Lost Tapes, God's Son and yes, Street's Disciple, which is a damn good album). However, after Nastradamus, we were left wondering what happened to Nasty Nas, what happened to Escobar, what happened to the greatest lyricist we had heard thus far? Is Nastradamus really THAT bad??? Yes. Yes it is.



Popular Posts