The Lost Tapes II is the reason why Hip-Hop still needs Nas!
On this past Friday the 19th, 2019, Nas released his 5th compilation album, "The Lost Tapes II" which contains unreleased materials from his last 4 albums, "Hip-Hop is Dead" (2006), "Untitled" (2008), "Life is Good" (2012) and "Nasir" (2018). Nas said with all the songs he has recorded for the past years, he has enough unreleased songs to make two other Lost Tapes. "The Lost Tapes II" was released under Def Jam Recordings and Mass Appeal Records and features artists such as Swizz Beatz, RaVaughn, David Ranier, J. Myers and heavyweight producers like Pete Rock, The Alchemist, RZA, Kanye West, DJ Toomp, Pharrell Williams and more. Let's see if it lives up as a sequel of "The Lost Tapes" which included unreleased songs from "I Am" (1999) and "Stillmatic" (2001).
The first song of the album is called "No Bad Energy" which was produced by Swizz Beatz and AraabMUZIK in 2016. The beat has a nice laid back instrumental with good lyrics from Nas where he reminisces about the time he did the song "Oochie Wally" with The Bravehearts group that included his brother Jungle. People like Jay-Z at the time, ridiculized the song for being corny, but the song was a massive hit. Nas also states in the song for everybody, to not let the bad energy of certain individuals to come between them and their dreams and Nas finishes the song with the bar "Still miss Big Poppa". The next song is "Vernon Family" produced by Pharrell Williams around 2007. The background of the instrumental has that Skateboard P signature with a nice flow and good punchlines from Nas. "Jarreau of Rap (Shark Attack)" featuring Al Jarreau and Keyon Harrold, and produced by Xharlie Black, is where Nas goes on a lyrical attack on a symphony type of beat, but after listening to the song at least 4 to 5 times, it still didn't do it for me. So far, it's a slow start for the album compared to the first Lost Tapes. "Lost Freestyle" was the first preview of Nas announcing that he was releasing "The Lost Tapes II", and I can say the snippet of the song had everyone, including myself, hyped for Nas new project. The song was produced by Statik Selektah and the instrumental was beautiful, alongside with Nas lyrical delivery freestyle on this song which was just savage. Nas proved on this song that he still got it.
The 4th song of the album is "Tanasia" which is produced by RZA. The song is about Nas meeting an Asian woman and that he never felt a crush like this before. The instrumental of the song was crazy and you can tell this is a RZA beat because it has Wu-Tang Clan elements all over this beat. The following song is "Royalty" featuring RaVaughn and it's produced by Hit-Boy. The song was recorded in 2012 and it's original title was "No Such Thing as White Jesus" and you can tell that the song was for the album "Life is Good" because the theme of the song is about growing out of relationships. "Who Are You" featuring David Ranier and produced by Eric Hudson was also recorded in 2012 for "Life is Good", and its original title was "Who Am I". On this song, Nas raps about his former neighbor who enters the "White's Man Society" and forgets about his black roots, and Nas thinks he is no longer part of the black community and that he has no right to tell black people who they are or who they are supposed to be. "Adult Film" is featured and produced by Swizz Beatz and was recorded in 2016. The instrumental has a nice piano in it, but overall, the song was just ok. Nas also interpolates the R-A-W bar from Big Daddy Kane's "RAW" in 1988.
At the second half of the album, we have the song "War Against Love" which is produced by DJ Khalil and DJ Dahi. Nas said he was inspired to do this song by having a phone conversation with Lauryn Hill about the evilness happening the world. "The Art of It" is featuring J. Myers and it's produced by the legendary Pete Rock in 2009 because Nas states in the song that he's 36 years old and that was in 2009. Nas & Pete Rock first worked together in Nas first album "Illmatic" and Nas wanted to be serious recording this song with Pete Rock because he did not want to disrespect his legacy. When Nas first heard the beat and that it reminded him of Naughty By Nature's "Uptown Anthem", he was like "Aww yeah, that's the one". With a dope beat from Pete Rock and some good rapping skills from Nas, I don't need to say more about this song. Then we have the song "Highly Favored" which is again produced by RZA. "Queens Wolf" is produced by DJ Toomp and I think this song was maybe recorded in 2008 because both artists have worked together back then for Nas album "Untitled". In this song, Nas tells a story about his Queens adventures on this smooth and melodic track from Toomp.
"It Never Ends" is produced by The Alchemist, who Nas has worked in the past on "The Lost Tapes" and "God's Son". On this song, Nas interpolates The Notorious B.I.G. "Come On" where you can see that Nas still misses Big Poppa and honors him. Alchemist delivered a good production on this track as always. The following song is "You Mean The World To Me" and it was produced by Kanye West in 2006 for Nas album, "Hip-Hop Is Dead". On this song, Nas raps about having a relationship with a woman in whom he sees the Queen in her but she is too used to being treated as a pawn. "QueensBridge Politics" is produced by Pete Rock and the song is Nas closure regarding the late Prodigy's death. He also raps about Queens music legacy and influence it had for the past 30 years. The last song of the album is "Beautiful Life" featuring RaVaughn and it's produced by No I.D. The song was supposed to be in "Life Is Good" in 2012, but with all the lyrical content and the legal activities regarding Nas divorce with Kelis at the time, he did not want Kelis to use that song against him in court. The song is about Nas past divorces and the fact that Kelis did not want their son to see his father. Nas opened up on this song about everything but in the end, no matter the ups and downs, he said to always remember that life is good and beautiful.
At the beginning of "The Lost Tapes II", I felt that maybe the album is going to be just ok because it started slow. After the 4th song, the album started to have my attention, and it got more my attention the more I was listening to the album. With all the great producers on this compilation album, the production was amazing, so I think Vlad from VladTV should just stop about criticizing Nas for being the worst person to pick good beats. As for Nas rapping skills, they say hip-hop is a young man game, but I say as long that rappers like Nas are still alive, the youngins could learn a lot from the veterans because Nas is showing no signs of felling off and I never enjoyed a Nas album like that since God's Son. "The Lost Tapes II" could have been perfect if he would have removed at least 4 songs from the album. I think it's safe to say that Nas should leave Def Jam and pushing his work with his indie label Mass Appeal.