Sunday, February 22, 2009

I love Vintage Vinyl. Every time I go in there I end up walking out with a couple gems. The hip-hop vinyl section is easily one of the best in the city. It's made great both because of the excellent selection of LPs, but also the varied assortment of 12" singles, which have their own section (appropriately called Hip-Hop 12s)! If you haven't been in there, I highly recommend it, especially if you're rockin vinyl. CD selection is one of the best in the city as well, but you can get CDs anywhere these days.

So this time I went in there and picked up two records. The first was a split-single with Mos Def and Reflection Eternal and the other was "The Lost Tapes" by Nas. It says right on the front, "No cameos. No hype. No bullshit." Couldn't have said it better myself. These cuts are straight Nas with no added crazy production techniques or over-the-top stylings. Basically, the tracks on this are throw-aways from the albums "I Am" and "Stillmatic." But that doesn't mean they're bad.

I couldn't believe it when I threw it on and heard the first Nas track I'd ever heard, but could never find anywhere for some reason. It's called "Doo Rags." It's a real laid-back retrospective track that would have fit right in on "Illmatic" ...but definitely not on "Stillmatic," the one from which it was dropped.

Another great one is "Black Zombie" -- a powerfully afro-centric track with some strong messages on inequality and the tough circumstances in which young Black men in the US find themselves. It's not a message that is unique to Nas' albums, but its power on this track makes it that much more meaningful.

Overall the album is pretty disjointed, as expected on an odds-and-ends piece like "The Lost Tapes." Though Nas' style has remained relatively consistent throughout his career (with only a handful of exceptions), so maybe it's not as ecclectic as some would expect. That said, this album stands alone -- both in terms of the unity of the tracks and the quality of the lyrics -- as a great LP from a great lyricist. Not just a collector's item for Nas fans, but a great hip-hop experience all-around. Check it out for sure, or hit me up for a listen.

That's all for now.



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