NAS – The Lost Tapes II


In mainstream Hip Hop, the media have developed an imaginary ‘Mount Rushmore’. The real one has four heads, Hip Hop has FIVE: 2Pac, Biggie, Jay-Z, Eminem & NAS. For Obvious reasons Pac & B.I.G. are exempt, but for the other three, they could well be the most polarizing figures in Hip Hop. Any major release they do will be praised by their fans, but heavily scrutinized by the ‘True Hip Hop Heads’. With Eminem, it may boil down to ‘white privilege’, with Jay, it’s his dumbing down of lyrics and his global status, had Big and Pac be alive, the true heads would surely find a major fault with them let’s Nas The Lost tapes 2keep it 100, and as for NAS, it’s his ‘bad’ ear for beats… every release from God’s Son onwards leaves heads saying one of two things: One – it’s not better than Illmatic/It Was Written or… there’s no DJ Premier production… Nas & Premo made a huge mistake in 2010 – announcing that they would do a joint project together, and ever since then, that’s what the fans have been clamoring for. Life Is Good came out, NO PREMO. After eight years, a ‘quasi’ follow up came in the form of ‘NASIR’, produced entirely by Kanye West, and that brought major disappointment within the fans, and perhaps didn’t get it until Nas released his mini movie. Now in 2019, Nas finally unleashes the sequel to The Lost Tapes, with the predecessor held in high regard by the fans, the pressure is on Nas to come through here. 16 previously unreleased tracks ranging from Hip Hop Is Dead, The Untitled (N!&&£r) Album, Life Is Good and Nasir with an all-star cast of producers, surely Nas cannot falter….can he????


When it comes to Nas, fans love to play the comparison game, so we are going to do the same thing here. The way the album starts off, one would think the listener is at church with arms spread out and head tilted up with eyes closed as if the heavens have opened up. If Nas is hoping for ‘No Bad Energy’, social media is the wrong place to start let me tell you. Instantly this track sounds as if Swizz produced an ‘Echo Part 2’… one thing is for sure, the glorious start he achieved with Doo Rags from the first Tapes was also achieved here.

Vernon Family sees Nas flawlessly flowing over a relentless Pharrell Williams beat, already by this time, heads are already playing the game ‘Which album was this made for’? We already know by the recent interviews that these are based on the last four album releases.

As we enter the most polarizing track of Nas career… we know he can have his creative moments. It simply boils down to if you are a fan of the Jazz sub-genre – ‘scat’…you will appreciate this track. If you’re not, well good chance is you won’t. On first listen, your confusion will go into overdrive. From that point, you will either decide to listen to it multiple times to absorb it or immediately dismiss it.


Now the Lost Freestyle screams NAS all day long… Statik Selektah nailed this sound perfectly and becomes one of the albums highlights… one would think that fans on social media completely forgot about this being played in the initial trailer and focussed all of their displeasure on the track previous. To keep the zoning out going, Statik lets the beat ride out, always a beautiful thing… Nas is also one of the few non-Wu artists on the planet who can rhyme crazy over a RZA beat, we know how unorthodox they can be… this time Nas directs his verbal intercourse over oriental sounding sonics and a Renaissance sample.

You have heard Royalty by Gangstarr, now hear Nas’ version. In this tune he contemplates getting married again after the failure of Kelis and RaVaughn providing the chorus enforcing our young women to respect themselves.

‘Who Are You’ is an interesting tale of a black man who made it out the hood, and while he tries to teach values to those still in the hood, he seems to have almost lost a part of who he was… “And we all know the code of the block/And you talking some gibberish, anti-n!&&@ sh!t/’Cause you marched back with Rosa Parks?
Brother, don’t start, go build your Noah’s Ark/You could float to the end of the world, and pretend what you not/But I know what you are…”


…meanwhile in ‘Adult Film’, even though Nas has been well known to go wild for the night as far as sexual encounters, Nas expresses his frustrations with insecure women, and their friends putting words in their ear… almost sounds as if these are wounds re-opened from the Kelis experiences…

The way Nas is talking in this video? It’s as if he’s thinking of pushing this as the next single under the strength of Lauryn Hill, and there is so much truth in this. War Against Love sounds as if it was recorded for the Untitled album as regards to lyrics and subject matter, talking about the savages trying to kill us off since the days of the Moors… “Cause we could be so great, pray it’s not too late/Put pride aside, coincide, I bet we both be straight/Straight to the top, side to side, twin Rolls Royces/We made choices to be devoted
To go at those foes who come at us with upside down crosses…”


The production guessing continues in this next album highlight with the Pete Rock Produced ‘The Art Of It’, The Soul Brother flips Naughty By Nature’s Uptown Anthem in such epic fashion, and here Nas reveals when this could have been made in terms of his age at the time. The hook sounds a bit unfinished but that doesn’t matter… this track right here further validates some heads claims that Nas doesn’t know how to pick beats for his albums… this one right here is inexcusable. This is an instant banger. According to Nas, he didn’t want to tarnish Pete Rock’s legacy…so that’s why it never initially came out. Then in Highly Favoured, this sounds like one of the Wu-Tang Killa Beez were actually working on it and then Nas stormed in and said – ‘RZA – I’ll take that – this is Highly favoured for me…’ Next, Nas goes all Marvel on us in Queen’s Wolf, but Netflix might have cancelled that season before it even started.


Don’t you think it’s ironic that during the legendary battle between Nas & Jay-Z, Nas calls out Jiggaman for reciting many of B.I.G.’s lines, and in The Alchemist produced ‘It Never Ends’, Nas winds up doing the same thing? It’s like John Cena calling out The Rock for turning his back on wrestling in favor for Hollywood, only for Cena to do the same thing years later… and most likely end up on the same film in the future (Fast & Furious 10?)

They say ‘You Mean The World To Me’ could be the best Kanye West produced track for Nas and was meant for Nasir…if that is so, it wouldn’t stop the Kanye haters going in on the Nasir album. In this track, it seems as if the woman in this tale actually took Skyzoo’s words of advice.

Again, with ‘Queensbridge Politics’, it’s hard to buy Nas’ claim of tarnishing Pete Rock’s legacy especially when when you are paying homage to Prodigy, amidst all the ups and downs over the years. Finally RaVaughn rejoins Nas in the album’s feel good finale – Beautiful Life. It feels as if when this was recorded, Nas was juggling between this and Bye Baby for the Life Is Good album closer. Maybe he didn’t want to put too much spotlight on Kelis at the time. Nas fans wouldn’t have minded, they see Kelis as the enemy anyway… especially in the eyes of Redman & Method Man.


And that line right there resonates everything I have seen in recent days… this line stuck with me ever since Nas said it in 2012, and heads are falling for it every time. This collection of unreleased material is a nice project, it could have been trimmed down a little to match the original, but it is nice no less with plenty of replay value. Perhaps maybe not as consistent as the first in terms of production (it seemed like Nas worked with the same team over It Was Written, I Am and Nastradamus which made it flow well). However for those fans who most likely gave it one spin and then updated their status with negativity, they will forever be stuck in their ways and there is no helping them. They want that Nas/Premo project and to that I say this: ABANDON HOPE and tweet Royce Da 5’9 why it didn’t happen…and if Nas brings out The Lost Tapes 3 & 4… the same thing is going to happen – heads will pay attention, they will curse out Nas for having a bad ear for beats, listen to it anyway, and curse him more EVEN IF the album is good, such is the case with this. It’s just how it is.



The number NINE seems like a very powerful number within the Wu-Tang Clan of recent memory. NINE living members (rest in peace Ol’ Dirty), 2018 was the official 25 year anniversary of Hip Hop’s greatest dynasty but the celebrations have spilled into 201(9) big time, with the unveiling of their own district (first Hip Hop group to ever achieve that), Staten Island has an official Wu-Tang Clan Holiday (NOVEMBER 9), to celebrate 36 Chambers… RZA would tell you that 3 add 6 makes 9… with the success of the Inspectah Deck Chamber No 9documentary ‘Of Mics and Men’ and the upcoming show ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga, and the Gods of Rap tour which was originally a UK show but demand made that go worldwide, the Wu-Tang Clan is truly REBORN, as the number 9 suggests in Supreme Mathematics. For Inspectah Deck, his first album ‘Uncontrolled Substance’ was released in 1999 featured a track called ‘9th Chamber’, and that same title re-emerged in his 2010 album – Manifesto, on October 9, 2012, he came out to the UK to perform and did so in epic fashion, and after many Czarface projects, NINE years later Inspectah Deck returns with his new solo album – CHAMBER No.9. For this brother, he feels REBORN.


The beauty of Clan/Solo projects is when they use kung fu film samples they are not random and just to sound good, they are carefully thought out and with purpose, particularly with intros. Here the Shaolin Rebel steps up vowing to do the best he can and putting everything on the line, but he’s been doing that for 25 years! He continues his disgust for how the rap game has turned out now an even worse, comparing him to them like one of the same… You know your man asks/How you gang gang with yoga pants and handbags?/I don’t get it, maybe I ain’t supposed to/Comparin’ ‘em to me is like Stop and Shop to Whole Foods…

Track 2 on the album is the opposite of what it’s title suggests… and by this time we should already be taking note of a one Danny Caiazzo… doesn’t come across as a hip hop name, or sounds like somebody we would see on Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge, but this is a producer we should keep tabs on. He has gone all soulful with this one with hard hitting thumping drums to boot, and Deck is letting the young ones know that the fast money lifestyle is No Good do not get it twisted.

The tributes to Ol’ Dirty just keep on coming, and guys like Deck, Rae and even RZA himself will let you know that ‘Life Changes’ will never be the lasting tribute remembered through the ages, but instead of being emotional and reflective, Deck switches up. Just calling the track ‘RUSSELL JONES is a highlight in itself, this goes hard. From here forward, saying the word ‘unique’ is cliche… say ‘Russell Jones’… he is the epitome of the word.

Can’t Stay Away might be INS’ confession that yes he did want to retire from Hip Hop and realised that wasn’t the case… call it the art of retiring without retiring… Deck talks about his origins and how he fell in love with H.E.R. and then switches up the head nodding volume up with the infectious Na, Na, Na! 5 tracks in and Danny (Caiazzo) is on fire! He is running this skullbuster with ease!


This track right here is a blatant video waiting to happen, and it appears so the way Deck’s first video ended, with a hook filled with scratches of  classic Wu lines over it’s golden years, Chamber No.9 is EPIC and Certified gig ready… I can imagine this banging at a venue. True indeed, Inspectah Deck and Danny cannot be stopped even if they came with ABS. ’24K’ features the album’s only other guest clan member Cappadonna and Hellfire, and this time Boo Bundy steps in as the producer. Cappadonna even admits he wasn’t on form here! “You’re voices down low and your rhymes are whack/While I been flippin’ that, give me that sh!t, dimes and crack/My darts from the shot bust, I’m taking the shortcuts/You can’t get pu$$y, you’d be paying my whores up/This is the bad me, the good me don’t record stuff…”

…and in ‘What It be Like’, Deck describes the street life which is sounds no different from what they were when he was growing up, that’s why the Game Don’t Change, just the players do.

As far as visuals go, this could well be the best video Deck has done is his career to date. Seemingly paying homage to a combination of Terminator & Blade (incidentally my favorite all time film franchises/heroes), the Rebel is sent from the Wu-Tang skynet to terminate all the wack behaviour going on in Hip Hop today.


Dolla Signs has Inspectah Deck & Mz Gemini exploring the subject of C.R.E.A.M even further and what people would do to get it, the opening lines are reminiscent of what a billionaire named Shawn Carter once did, and you would think the youth wouldn’t have to do through that…

‘Who Run It’? Seemingly Hellfire here. It’s either meant for a project Hellfire might be working on, or it’s Deck’s way of stepping back and making him shine as if to say ‘he’s next to blow…’

Even the Shaolin kung fu sample that starts before ‘FIRE’ fits in well, telling the story of how Wu-Tang became #1, and just like the title, Trife Diesel brings just that in his rhymes: “I was made in the Lord’s image/That’s a word to my mama, I was perfectly sculpted/Put rappers in surgery in the infirmary posted/Place ’em in body bags, you leave them virtually roasted/Turn a Moe to a John Doe, I never heard of these culprits
I’m back the being focus, reloaded, the book has been decoded/It was written way before Nas and Hova even wrote it…


With this album, you have to give the Fifth brother maximum props. He made two risky moves – one, he didn’t rely on well known producers like he did all his previous efforts and called on two hungry producers and two, He has always been one to not heavily call on his Wu brothers to jump on a track. I’ve heard heads express concerns about that but that hasn’t stopped Deck consistently put out good material and in this case it may have resulted in arguably Deck’s strongest album since Uncontrolled Substance. After all, Inspectah Deck & The GZA are known to be the clan’s best lyricists, and Deck prefers to keep it that way. Chamber No 9 is an album which does what it says on the tin – chop heads off lyrically with the fatal flying guillotine. Considering he was going to leave the game with ‘The Rebellion’ in 2013 which never came out (thank god), was Czarface responsible for adding longevity? What made INS make that U-Turn on retirement? And interestingly, what happened to Inspectah Deck  – The Producer? These are the questions I would like to ask Jason Hunter given the opportunity… say, are you available for radio interviews?????





TRUE STATEMENT. Especially in the case of Toronto Hip Hop Duo Primal Winds. If you know them over the years like I have, you will find that every project they do brings a different flavour,  but the similarity is always there. Hip Hop. Together they have given you a street album, a martial arts album, an 80’s video game influenced album, and quite recently a wild, wild west album. These guys love to explore what they were raised on. This time they have gone the route of the Road Warriors. To most, that title resonates with the classic wrestling tag team legends. That might well be the direction here… a wrestling tag team meets apocalyptic Mad Max style affair.

Road Warriors CoverThe way the album jumps off sounds like their entrance theme coming to the ring, pyro going off all over the arena, feared by all other teams… then Gas Town follows the same principle, only difference is they sound like a babyface (good guy) tag team feeling triumphant. The hi-octane energy continues into War Boys, driving the big toys, showing their dominance.

If a venue books Primal Winds to perform, and they dropped ‘Twisted Metal’… they would have a mean mosh pit on their hands, the likes of which even established rock bands like Nirvana and Megadeth would even be afraid of. Security would have handed in their badges and retreated to the nearest gym to pump some more iron.

At this point the duo have realised there were casualties and fatalities from the results of that last track right there so they have decided to slow it down. The survivors of the mosh pit made it to the Radiation Station. Going by the lyrics of Iron Wind in the Fresh Kils Remix of ‘How You Like Us Now’, he’s also been heavily influenced by disaster movies.

So imagine this is the story so far: Primal Winds walk in your tag team champions of the world, with the power of their rhymes and their metal backdrop, they cause an apocalypse. Survivors found air raid shelters as the aftermath causes an pandemic ‘Outbreak’, and the population continues to decrease. The album sequencing here has been done to perfection thus far. Now the pair mount their motorcycles and prepare for ‘Road Rage’… it’s all survival of the fittest music from here on end.


One thing Primal Winds really excel at – is how they acknowledge the female of the species. They don’t just make a typical song about a love interest and talk about how they wine and dine her before giving her loving no… Tank Girl is their ode to the comic book badass chick. There was one other notable instance when Iron Wind in particular did a homage track and it was Lady Snowblood from The Warrior Inside album.

Don’t you just love when Hip Hop can take a sample from some of the most oddball pieces of music and make it work? Primal Winds have done this with ease with ‘Atomic Love’, sounding like Hip Hop originated during World War 2 and not 1972 as we all believe! Finally ‘Stand By Me’ which features Fortunato and resident songstress Lucy Lovesick closes out the post-apocalyptic conclusion. The album also includes the original version of ‘How You Like Us Now’ but Primal Winds, with the help of Fresh Kils have achieved something quite rare in this era of Hip Hop where the remix is superior to the original, but they included it for the loyal fans who may prefer the original.


Which brings us back to this. Primal Winds have listened to constructive criticism over past projects while maintaining the creative juices, they scaled the tracks down whereas earlier projects had maybe 20 songs and after a while some tracks may have sounded either samey or filler, and just like every box of chocolates, you may not like every single chocolate in it and the least popular are left at the bottom. That is the case for Road Warriors if some of the heavy metal driven sounds are not really your thing. On a personal standpoint, on first listen a lot of the tracks were skippable, but on second listen you find that the album tells a story from beginning to end, it flows as far as a conceptual album goes, and if you are really down with the rock/hip-hop fusion you will find this an enjoyable album.  The genius behind all of this is Primal Winds are broadening their audiences, and are able to be booked in more venues depending on what crowd they are catering to, and that can only be a good thing.