Undoubtedly, Nasir Jones stands as one of the most influential rap artists to ever wield a microphone, consistently delivering profound insights and unparalleled lyrical brilliance over the span of four decades.
Since his groundbreaking debut verse on Main Source’s “Live at the BBQ,” this Queens native has solidified his position as one of the premier wordsmiths in hip hop, leaving an indelible mark every time he graces the genre with his presence.
From the groundbreaking release of his seminal 1994 debut, often hailed as the pinnacle of hip hop albums, to his latest opus, “King’s Disease III,” unveiled in 2022, Nas has meticulously crafted an impressive catalog that remains the envy of aspiring rappers.
Today, we delve into some of his most timeless classics. From the narrative brilliance of “N.Y. State of Mind” to the scorching intensity of “Ether,” we present the top 50 Nas songs that have left an enduring impact on the hip hop landscape.
1. Hate Me Now
Released in 1999 and featuring Puff Daddy, “Hate Me Now” showcases Nas’s aggressive lyrical style, calling out different groups of people. Despite controversy surrounding the video, the song itself stands as a powerful rap anthem with Nas’s signature flow.
2. If I Ruled The World
Known for struggling on the radio due to explicit lyrics, Nas breaks the trend with “If I Ruled The World.” Lauryn Hill’s presence adds to the song’s effortless feel, making it a perfect blend of solid lyrics, smooth beats, and profound content.
3. Take It In Blood
Considered one of the best tracks from Nas’s second album, “It Was Written,” “Take It In Blood” boasts outstanding bars, staggering beats, and Nas’s characteristic speed and heartfelt aggression. The song’s hidden power is revealed when delving into its lyrics.
4. One Mic
Released in 2001, “One Mic” is known for its powerful lyrics and emotional delivery. The hyped beat adds to the intensity, creating a rollercoaster ride where Nas doesn’t just convey his feelings but takes the listener on the journey with him.
5. N.Y. State Of Mind
A contender for the best hip-hop song ever produced, “N.Y. State Of Mind” delves deep into thought-provoking lyrics, offering vivid imagery and distinct beats that resonate with the listener. It stands as a masterpiece in hip-hop history.
From his 2012 album, “Daughters” provides an introspective take on the father-daughter relationship. Meaningful and Grammy-nominated, the song maintains a smooth vibe to emphasize its message without overshadowing it.
7. I Can
In “I Can,” Nas boldly expresses his thoughts and feelings with intense imagery and an extraordinary flow. While not as aggressive, the song showcases Nas’s ability to create vivid pictures through his words, demonstrating his rap prowess.
8. Got Ur Self A…
Also known as “Got Ur Self a Gun,” this classic by Nas pays respect to Biggie and Tupac’s slayings. Addressing a raw subject, Nas displays his disgust with the beat mirroring the anger and dismay, resulting in a powerful track.
“Suspect,” from the “It Was Written” album, stands out with Nas bouncing through verses, delivering strong and precise lyrics. It’s a standout track that showcases Nas’s astonishing lyrical prowess.
10. One On One
“One On One,” featured on the Street Fighter soundtrack, perfectly aligns with Nas’s rap style. Focused on fights and weapons, it adds a fun and distinct flavor to Nas’s repertoire.
11. One Time 4 Your Mind
From the “Illmatic” album, “One Time 4 Your Mind” slips under the radar but offers a mellow beat, adding depth of emotion to Nas’s delivery. The deep, powerful lyrics make it a stunning track on a fantastic album.
12. I Gave You Power
“I Gave You Power” infuses jazz inspiration into Nas’s style, resulting in a unique track. Nas’s storytelling remains in control as he delivers a compelling message through his lyrics.
In “Rewind,” Nas takes a reverse approach, pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. With an experimental feel, Nas showcases his creativity and skills, proving that his art knows no bounds.
“Ether” is a diss track where Nas exhibits control over his flow while expressing anger. The bars bounce along with the beat, creating a track that stands out as a stunning display of Nas’s talent.
15. One Love
Combining a perfect beat with gorgeous flows, “One Love” sees Nas in a philosophical mode, offering wisdom through his lyrics. The instrumental aspect adds to the overall feel, making it a classic that resonates with many.
16. Doo Rags
“Doo Rags” introduces a piano and jazz-inspired backing, giving it a different dimension. With solid beats and Nas’s catchy flow, it adds a smoothness that transcends genres.
17. The Message
Sampling Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” “The Message” has a luxurious feel with Nas delivering smooth vocals. The lyrics speak volumes without being overshadowed by the beat, making it a fantastic rap song.
18. It Ain’t Hard To Tell
With a brilliant beat and storytelling, “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” showcases Nas’s mastery of lyricism. The track stands out from beginning to end, making it a brilliant addition to Nas’s repertoire.
19. The World Is Yours
In “The World Is Yours,” Nas delivers smooth vocals over a slick piano sample. The thoughtful narrative on life and the overall feel of the song make it a stunning piece.
20. On The Real
Introducing an old vibe and maintaining a feel-good factor, “On The Real” adds a sense of nostalgia to Nas’s catalog. With solid beats and lyrical delivery, it offers a different perspective on life.
21. I Gave You Power
“I Gave You Power” reappears, emphasizing its jazz-inspired style and Nas’s storytelling mastery. The dreamlike opening transitions into a narrative that only Nas can deliver, making it a standout track.