WIN TICKETS to See NAS at Citi Field!

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This summer has been a weird season for rap. Kanye fell short of ascending to heaven withYeezus. Jay-Z's attempt to transcribe the Illuminati Handbook ended up being a Magna Carta Holy Fail (YUK YUK). J. Cole ranted on Twitter about no one paying attention to him because not Ye or Jay. But luckily for us, there is one dependable, steadfast rapper out there, and he'll be performing after a game during MLB All Star Week at Citi Field on July 19th: Nas! Very few artists are capable of matching the lyrical tenacity and overall heft of Queensbridge's own. And we've got tickets to his Citi Field post-game show. You want them?

See also: Five Great Nas Songs You May Have Missed

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Props to the Pops: A Father's Day Hip-Hop Playlist

Categories: Nas

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Nas and his father Olu Dara
As you're probably aware, this Sunday is hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur's birthday. But you might not know it also happens to be Father's Day, the day of the year we set aside to give our Dads thanks for all the great Dad-stuff that they've done for us. While the hip-hop canon has largely dealt with overcoming the hardships of an absent father, there's been plenty of tracks giving props to the ones who stuck around and raised their kids right as well. It is for all the Dads out there that we give props with our Father's Day playlist.

See also: Dear Mama: A Mother's Day Hip-Hop Playlist

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How Have We Not Seen Diddy Crucified in "Hate Me Now?"

Categories: Nas

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Nas
It's now 2013. As online music lovers, we've had widespread file-sharing for 14 years, Youtube for eight years and full-fledged communities dedicated to pop-culture preservation and video obscurities for at least five. At this point, every banned music video, live TV blooper or controversial performance once relegated to word-of-mouth memories is now a mere double-click away. With Ja Rule's infamous 9/11 discussion with "TRL" resurfacing in 2010, it would seem only one tumultuous music moment has yet to find a new life online. That moment is the crucifixion of Sean "Diddy" Combs.

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Five Great Nas Songs You May Have Missed

Categories: Nas

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Tonight, hip-hop legend Nas will be sitting down with Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony Decurtis at the 92Y for a discussion on his lengthy, important and influential career. For over 20 years, Nas, with his innovative writing style and signature delivery, has contributed some of the most celebrated works in rap. From his lauded debut Illmatic through unforgettable singles like "Ether" and "Made You Look," Nas' presence in hip-hop is unmistakable. While they'll have plenty of his critically acclaimed works to discuss, we thought this occasion would be a good time to discuss some stellar Nas performances that go far-too-often overlooked.

See also:
- So Nas Might Have Used A Ghostwriter. So What?
- Does Nas's New Album Prove That Life Is Good For Older Rappers?


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So Nas Might Have Used A Ghostwriter. So What?

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Earlier this week, one tweet and one blog post alleging that Nas had used ghostwriters—specifically, Jay Electronica and stic of Dead Prez—on his 2007 album Untitled. The tweet, by Jay-Z biographer dream hampton, came first; after that, former Hot 97 art director Frank William Miller Jr. (a.k.a. FWMJ) detailed a 2007 phone conversation in which Jay Electronica informed him that he was indeed writing for Nas' controversial Untitled album.

Hardcore rap fans expressed disbelief, weeping, and fury, aiming hundreds of pitchforks at FWMJ's twitter account. How could one of rap's great lyricists relegate himself to using a ghostwriter—the performance-enhancing drug of hip-hop? This is a cardinal sin!

Or is it?

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The Top 3.66 Hip-Hop Songs Of The Week

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Hip-hop is at its best when artists collaborate, challenging one another to create their best work, and this week's best hip-hop tracks are highlighted by a collection of odd couples. DJ Khaled, of incessant yelling and inexplicably giving Ace Hood work, managed to put Nas, Scarface and DJ Premier on the same song; meanwhile, Odd Future upstart Domo Genesis linked up with New York producer legend Alchemist.

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The Top 3.5 Hip-Hop Songs Of The Week

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The worst result of 21st-century technological advances, at least from a musical point of view, is the dual proliferation of DIY recording equipment and social media, allowing millions of—notice the quotation marks—"musicians" to flood inboxes, festival backpacks, Facebook timelines and Twitter mentions with "hot" tracks. Rappers could be seen as the worst offenders, since rap songs are the easiest to record, needing only a mic, an instrumental and minimal mastering to work.

As a result, Internet browsers are all being transformed into freelance (and usually unpaid) A&R reps, sifting through hundreds of songs before finding something that's worth loading into an iPod. The job can be quite overwhelming—but have no fear. Every Wednesday, we'll bring you the week's best hip-hop tracks so you can clear your inbox and stop playing the guessing game. Here are the three and a half great songs that popped up this week.

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Live: Nas Celebrates His New Album At Tammany Hall

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Stephen Bercovici
Nas
Tammany Hall
Tuesday, July 17

Better than: Listening to Nastradamus.

"I don't even know how to start this shit..." lamented a young Nas right before presenting the most complete, most timeless rap album in history—and doing so his first time out of the gate. Illmatic was a lot to live up to; Nas, who was barely out of his teens when it was released, could've easily ended up like a child actor who peaks before puberty. He made some questionable song choices in the years that followed, and Nastradamus as a whole was very far removed from the street-purist theme music on Illmatic. But true Nas fans never stopped believing that their underground prince was just below the surface of this new shiny exterior called Esco, and that he would once again resume his place as the Street's Disciple.

Stillmatic, God's Son and even the dense double-LP Street's Disciple all promised a return to form, but none (except maybe Stillmatic) really hit like they were supposed to. Then his latest offering, Life Is Good, began being touted as Nas' best since Stillmatic, and maybe even Illmatic.

Was Nas back? Had the metamorphosis come full circle? SOTC ran up in Tammany Hall last night to find out.

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Does Nas's New Album Prove That Life Is Good For Older Rappers?

Categories: Nas, New Releases

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Something weird is going on in rap music; older rappers are as lost as Mitt Romney in a Dollar Tree. In a game dominated by the young, there doesn't seem to be much place for men of a certain age talking about clubs, bottles of alcohol and selling drugs, and the resulting soul-searching has yielded some alarming results. Busta Rhymes signed to Young (Young!) Money to rap alongside guys like Lil Chuckee and Tyga. Mobb Deep engaged in some Twitter war where homophobic slurs were exchanged and phantom lost cell phones were to blame. Pete Rock and Lord Finesse are suing and beefing with rappers for using samples they originally used decades ago. Meanwhile, Drake and his peers are laughing at rap's senior citizens ("talking about these other rappers getting old is even getting old," he raps on Meek Mill's "Amen").

While the most sustainable way for rappers to maintain an edge into middle age has been to fill every song with lyrics about how soft and vapid today's whippersnappers are (most masterfully accomplished in Heltah Skeltah's 2008 anti-pop gem D.I.R.T. —if you listen to it and don't want to smack a high school kid, then you're part of the problem), being overly didactic about the golden era alienates younger listeners and gets tiring even for the most staunch old-school enthusiast. There's a fine line between being a throwback act who's critical of today's microwavable hits and who becomes one of the finger-waving old uncles hip-hop was built partially to rebel against. Ice T's anti-Soulja Boy videos and KRS-One's quizzical battle with Nelly came off as more of the ladder than anything.

So what exactly does an elder statesman do to stay fresh, relevant and entertaining in today's hip-hop market? The 39-year-old Nas may have the answer.

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The Top Five Queens Rap Anthems (As Chosen By Hip-Hop Artists)

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Nas, representing Queens' own.
Talk of patriotism might be all up in the BBQ-scented air at this time of year, but rap artists are equally as proud of their local roots, not least when it comes to the great masses who hail from Queens. With the Q-Boro having provided perhaps more great rappers than any other section of New York City, we got in touch with some of Queens' most estimable hip-hop stars—Prodigy from Mobb Deep, Psycho Les from the Beatnuts, Das Racist's pal Big Baby Gandhi and DJ Rob Swift—and asked them to pick their all-time favorite Queens hip-hop anthems.

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