Nasir Jones aka Nas has been one of the best MC’s in the rap game since the early 1990s so when trying to assemble a list of his best songs it was no easy task. He took the music scene by storm when he released Illmatic, which is widely considered one of the best rap albums ever and why not it’s 10 tracks of pure fire. He has recently dropped his Untitled and he did an album with Damien Marley called Distant Relatives. I chose 35 of the best Nas songs that features tracks from each of his solo albums to give the list an even blend of tracks for your enjoyment. Obviously there are some omissions like for instance I have six songs from Illmatic but don’t freak out about the other four songs just listen to the entire album because it is worth it. Also check out: 41 Best Jay-Z Songs and Tupac’s Best Songs
New York State of Mind- The song starts off hard with an extended verse in which Nas compares himself to Scarface sniffing cocaine and tells a story about a shootout. A great Nas storytelling track.
Life’s a Bitch- His collabo with AZ on this album. The two rappers go back and forth spitting ill verses. I woke up early on my born day…
Halftime- The second verse on Halftime is one of my favorites by Nas. Explore rap and tell me Nas ain’t all that.
Represent- A shoutout to Queensbridge one part grimy and one part braggadocio. About Gods I don’t believe in none of that shit your facts are backwards.
It Ain’t Hard to Tell- Nas really shows off his lyrical chops on this one and completely murders the beat.
Memory Lane- I rap for listeners, bluntheads, fly ladies, and prisoners.
It Was Written
I Gave You Power- Nas creates a story of the hood and crime from the point of view of a gun. It is lyrically complex and creative, it is also the supposed inspiration for 2Pac’s Me and My Girlfriend which is reason enough to put it on the list if it wasn’t so damn good on its own.
Street Dreams- A sick beat, a hook lifted from the Eurythmics, and a story about the life of crime what more could you want in a Nas track?
Shootouts- A classic track.
The Message-There’s one life, one love so there can only be one king.
If I Ruled the World- Nas teams up with Lauryn Hill and produces a classic.
New York State of Mind Pt.2- The sequel to the first song on our list. My favorite part of the song is when he countdowns the friends he started with in life and how he lost each of them.
Hate Me Now- This was Nas right before the new decade started. The video was flashy and completely over the top and the song features Diddy but damn the beat and the song were on point. I loved it when I was 12 and still play it a few times a week.
Nas is Like- Produced by Premier this song has the focus and quality that was absent from some of the other material on this album.
Project Windows- My only entry from this album. There may be other track on here but this is the only one that still gets play from me.
Ether- Oh and they all thought he was dead after Jay-Z dropped the Takeover. Vicious and devastating, a diss track so good that nowadays people either get dissed or they get Ether’d.
One Mic- The song has a killer rise and fall of energy that at times completely envelopes you as the listener.
What Goes Around- The China men built the railroad. The Indians saved the Pilgrims and in return the Pilgrims killed em. You call it Thanksgiving I call your holiday Hell Day cuz I’m from poverty neglected by the wealthy. Very underrated song with lots of depth.
Doo Rags- A simple instrumental mixed with very potent lyrics.
Fetus- Nas explores his birth and family life.
Blaze a 50- An absolutely crazy track that goes into complex story about cheating, murder, and collecting an insurance policy.
Drunk by Myself- I’m drunk by myself with my gun up under my seat.
Poppa Was a Playa- Nas tells us a story about growing up and witnessing his dad’s infidelities.
Made You Look- This was a nice hit for Nas and the remix with Jadakiss and Ludacris was all over the place that year.
Dance- A song dedicated to his mother who passed away. He makes you feel his pain and even if you can’t relate you’ll still get hit with emotion.
Heaven- What if Heaven was only a mile away?
Thief’s Theme- Samples In the Garden of Eden by Iron Butterfly and it has such a dark sound to it.
A Message to the Feds
Just a Moment- We get introduced to Quan on this song about death and how it feels to lose those closest to you.
Bridging the Gap- Some people didn’t like this song when it came out but I thought it was great plus he got to work with his dad and made rap and blues work together.
Hip Hop is Dead
Hip Hop is Dead- The declaration of what most hip hop fans had been thinking for years.
Black Republicans- Nas and Jay-Z squash the beef and deliver a good song over an epic instrumental.
Can’t Forget About You- A track about life and reminiscing on it all. Chrisette Michele sounds beautiful on the hook.