Happy 20th Anniversary to Nas and his album Nastradamus, the fourth album released by Nas on Ill Will and Columbia Records. The album debuted at number 7 on the US Billboard 200, selling over 232,000 copies in its first week. Despite mixed reviews the album achieved considerable commercial success and spawned two charting singles, “You Owe Me” featuring Genuine and “Nastradamus.” On December 22, 1999, the album was certified Platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This album was supposed to be the part of Nas’ album “I Am”, which was leaked on the Internet. Columbia had scheduled to release the leaked material from “I Am” and use the title Nastradamus during the latter half of 1999. Nas decided to record an entire new album for the 1999 release of Nastradamus.
The son of jazz cornetist and guitar player, Nas has released eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum albums and has sold over 30 million records worldwide. He is also the associate publisher of Mass Appeal magazine and the co-founder of Mass Appeal Records. Nas got his shot in 1991, as a featured artist on Main Source’s “Live at the Barbeque”. In 1994 Nas would release his debut album “Illmatic”, it received universal acclaim from both critics and the hip-hop community and is frequently ranked as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. Nas’s then released “It Was Written” and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, stayed on top for four consecutive weeks, went Double Platinum in two months, and made Nas and international star.
In 1995, Nas did guest performances on the albums Doe or Die by AZ, The Infamous by The Infamous Mobb Deep, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx by Raekwon and 4,5,6 by Kool G Rap. Nas also hired Steve Stoute in preparation for It Was Written, consciously working towards a crossover-oriented sound. It Was Written, chiefly produced by Tone and Poke of Trackmasters, was released in mid-1996. Two singles, “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” featuring Lauryn Hill and “Street Dreams”, including a remix with R. Kelly were instant hits. Nas had now became a common name among mainstream hip-hop. It Was Written featured the debut of the Firm, a supergroup consisting of Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, and Cormega.
They signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment label, the Firm began working on their debut album. After problems between Steve Stoute and Cormega, they added Nature and released “Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm: The Album.” The album was finally released in 1997 despite being certified platinum, the album was considered a flop and the members of the group disbanded to go their separate ways. During this period, Nas joined B-Real, KRS-One and RBX in the hip-hop supergroup Group Therapy, who appeared on the song “East Coast/West Coast Killas” from Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath.
In late 1998, Nas began working on a double album, to be entitled I Am… The Autobiography and also co-wrote and starred in Hype Williams’s 1998 feature film Belly. I Am… The Autobiography was completed in early 1999, and music videos were shot for its lead singles, “Nas Is Like”, produced by DJ Premier and “Hate Me Now”, featuring Sean “Puffy” Combs The album leaked into MP3 format onto the Internet, and Nas and Stoute quickly recorded enough substitute material to constitute a single-disc release. Nas decided to record an entire new album for the 1999 release of Nastradamus, it was therefore rushed to meet a November release date. With the lead single”You Owe Me” many critics downplayed the album. A secret beef was brewing between Nas and Brooklyn Heavyweight, Jay Z and Rocafella. On the lead single Nastradomus, Nas rhymes “I need an encore y’all, y’all should welcome me back/ Wanna ball to you fall, I could help you with that” in response to Memphis Bleek single “What you Think of That”. My favorite song on the album is “Project Windows” featuring the legend Ron Isley of the Isley Brothers. Nas raps about what he watched growing up in his projects. He vividly described his environment while Ron Isley provides a soulful hook.
In 2000, Nas & Ill Will Records Presents QB’s Finest, which is popularly known as simply QB’s Finest, was released on Nas’s Ill Will Records. In 2001 Nas would release Stillmatic after trading shots on freestyles and mixtape appearances, the highly publicized dispute between Nas and Jay-Z became widely known to the public when Jay-Z released his song “Takeover”, Nas responded with “Ether”, a song some will consider one of the best battle raps of all time. Later on, Jay Z and Nas would reconcile and it created the opportunity for Nas to sign a deal with Def Jam Recordings, of which Jay-Z was president at the time. He signed Nas in January 2006. The signing included an agreement that Nas was to be paid about $3,000,000, including a recording budget, for each of his first two albums with Def Jam.
Nas would go on to release seven more albums and is credited with releasing eight consecutive platinum albums and has sold over 30 million records worldwide. Happy 20th Anniversary to Nas and his album Nastradamus, an album that was widely slept on, but to me was always a classic. The album was ahead of its time, hence the name. From production to rhymes, this album was all around dope. Salute to you Nas and continued success on your ventures.