Thursday, July 2, 2015

Underrated Classic: Nas 'I Am...'

This month marks the 19th anniversary of Nas' sophomore LP, It Was Written, which some describe as a better record than its predecessor and his classic debut - Illmatic. While that argument will be a debate for years to come, one of his finest records always goes overlooked, especially coming out swinging with two blockbuster albums. In 1999, Nas released I Am..., the record that would complete the trilogy of covers that featured his home - Queensbridge Projects. Illmatic showcased his baby photo look at the buildings he lived in, It Was Written was him at that time look at those same buildings, while I Am.. had him donning a King Tut mask looking down saying "This is my kingdom!" It was the progress of his power and fame. Three albums in, he still had so much to say about growing up in that environment and being dirt poor. With production from LES, DJ Premier, Timbaland, Trackmasters, Dame Grease, and others, I Am.. bolstered two banging singles, "Nas is Like" and the classic "Hate Me Now." The album was originally intended to be a double album, but it happened to fall victim of a new technology back then known as MP3 leaks and Napster. Nas scrapped the double album idea and many of the leaked tracks appeared on his classic Lost Tapes mixtape. While it remains to be seen if an anniversary of the album would ever feature the original plan of a double LP, one thing is for sure, it was Nas just starting to get comfortable with the talents he had been given and the power of his tongue.