By Thomas A. Harden
On Sunday, DJ Green Lantern set the Internet ablaze with a new Nas freestyle titled, “Power, Paper, Pu**y,” off his new mixtape Invasion Radio 2K10. The following day, DJ Funkmaster Flex aired the stellar freestyle on his Hot 97 show under a new title, “Last Real Pt. 2.” Produced by Nas and long-time collaborator Salaam Remi, the Herb Alpert-sampling track finds Nas in rare form, as the reinvigorated Queensbridge MC delivers some of his best bars in recent memory. Some critics and fans alike have commented that the track points towards the return of God’s Son earlier moniker, Nasty Nas.
From the amount of hits garnered online from “Last Real Pt.2,” we decided to compose a list of top 5 Nas and Salaam Remi records of all time, with the assistance of a few key players. Hit the jump to see which track was the illest.
5. “The N,” Hip-Hop Is Dead
” ‘The N’ was a real triumphant track that fit well in the Nas catalog,” says Anslem Samuel, digital content director at XXL. “Despite the title being a play on words for ‘the end’ Salaam Remi crafted a track that seemed to express a beginning, a movement towards something greater. The drums were rumbling and the horns felt triumphant. The end result was standout album cut that was a definite head nodder. ‘The N’ is the ‘ish.”
4. “I Can” God’s Son
“Nas and Salaam are kind of a hit or miss combination,” says Timmhotep Aku, lead editor at AOL’s TheBVX.com. “In the event of ‘I Can,’ it was a hit, where working together produced a good outcome. I think one of the things that makes Nas so valuable right now is that he is one of the only artists that would make a song like that, and make it a single. What I mean is, he basically made a song that’s was old-school edutainment, copyright KRS-One. As far as the musical accompaniment, at first I was skeptical of the beat, but I thought it was an interesting twist on a very classical song. Overall, of the joints with him and Salaam, I definitely think that’s one of their best ones — of that combination.”
3. “Thief’s Theme” double album Street’s Disciple
“Salaam sampling the chorus from ‘The World Is Yours,’ hearkened back to the grittier Nas that people were asking for,” recalls Shahendra Ohneswere, hip-hop journalist. “The Iron Butterfly flip (‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’) wasn’t wholly, original, but the approach really gave the record a solid mixtape feel. Despite a few misses (‘Virgo’), overall career-wise Salaam has honed Nas’ modern sound.
2. “Made You Look” God’s Son
“The energy of the song is incredible,” says Toshitaka Kondo, senior editor of Complex magazine. “Nas was spitting on that also. It was crazy for the clubs, but also just an ill gutter street record. I love how they cut the beat off at the end and Nas is still rapping.
“It seems like Nas and Salaam think alike too,” Kondo continues. “Like they’re on the same page musically. Whereas another producer might just be giving him a beat, with Salaam they basically made a whole double album (Street Disciple) together. So I think they understand each other well. I like him with Alchemist too.”
1. “Get Down” God’s Son
“’Get Down’ is my favorite,” explains Amanda Diva, VH1/AOL Black Voices personality. “Nas hasn’t always been the best beat selector, but when he works with Salaam I feel like he’s getting the best of the best.
“It has that old-school feel, from the James Brown (‘The Boss’) sample they used. … I always love hearing Nas over soul samples, but also because where the record came on the album,” Diva continues. “It was the first record of the album, and sonically it set the tone. With the intros Nas has had on his albums from Illmatic to It Was Written, I think in that sense they were able to do that in a major way again — which I feel it didn’t happen since It Was Written. I wish I could A&R a Nas album.”
What do you think are the Top 5 Nas and Salaam Remi records? Let us know in the comments.