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On his third release, I Am, Nas bolsters his reputation as one of hip-hop's leading wordsmiths. His voice has grown so strong that none of the A-list guests (they include Puff Daddy, Aaliyah, Scarface, and DMX) can upstage the 25-year-old rapper.


Nas has acted in a movie (Belly), but his real ambition is to write them; until that happens he'll be known for highly cinematic tales of the street. Nas is a lot like a prison-yard bard: he tells crime stories full of blood and guts, but he balances them with strong messages to stop the cycle of violence. His ghetto tales, such as "Small World" and "Favor for a Favor", stress desperation as the cause of crime rather than glorify the nihilistic criminality.


Except for one track, "Dr. Knockboot", which casts him as a columnist to the hip-hop lovelorn and playa wannabes, Nas is unremittingly sober on I Am. His righteousness would seem nearly sanctimonious if not underpinned by superb production from the Trackmasters and DJ Premier. The production helps make this a consistent recording throughout, rather than a smattering of hits and misses.

Nas - I am….

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  • 1. N.Y. State Of Mind II
    2. Hate Me Now
    3. Small World
    4. Favor For A Favor
    5. We Will Survive
    6. Ghetto Prisoners
    7. You Won't See Me Tonight
    8. I Want To Talk To You
    9. Natures Shine
    10. Dr. Knockboot
    11. Life Is What You Make It
    12. Big Things
    13. Nas Is Like
    14. K-I-SS-I-N-G
    15. Money Is My Bitch
    16. Undying Love

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